Sikora AG forging ahead in wire & cable business
Sikora AG, a German firm with operations in India, is a manufacturer and supplier of online measuring, control, inspection and sorting technology for the wire, cable, hose, tube, optical fiber and plastics industry. The company has been a major player in the power cable market. The company’s X-ray devices have been used for measuring all three cable layers at CV lines for more than 20 years.
Q. How important is this exhibition to Sikora?
Every other year, all the stakeholders of the wire and cable industry meet in Düsseldorf. Manufacturers, processors, suppliers and providers use this week to discuss technologies, projects and trends of the industry. Sikora has been participating in the exhibition since 1976, and even today, the wire and cable business is one of our core markets. Therefore, this show is for us the most important trade fair. In Düsseldorf, we have the opportunity to meet many customers in a short period of time. Furthermore, many friendships have developed with our partners through the years. Thus, I am not only looking forward to interesting discussions about Sikora technologies, but also to seeing friends.
This year, there will be a lot that visitors to our booth will have to look forward to. They can definitely expect many innovative measuring, control, inspection, analysis and sorting systems that further optimize production processes. Modern laser and X-ray technologies measure precisely and reliably product parameters such as diameter, ovality, wall thickness and concentricity. In addition, our product portfolio comprises spark testers for the detection of insulation faults, lump detectors for the detection of faults on the product surface, capacity measuring systems as well as devices for reliable conductor preheating and temperature measurement and control. In addition, visitors will get to know our sophisticated systems for quality assurance of optical fibers in the drawing tower.
Q. At Sikora, what does Industry 4.0 mean and what are the benefits for the customer?
Industry 4.0 means the intelligent connection of humans, technologies and processes. Thus, production lines can be operated more flexibly and efficiently and the quality of products can be increased. Electrification is growing worldwide and hence, the need for cables. Simultaneously, the requirements of our customers concerning measuring technologies have become more diverse. Whereas in the past a classic quality control, meaning the measurement of product parameters online as well as data transfer and diagnosis, were sufficient, nowadays the demands on technologies are more comprehensive.
Customers want to intervene in the process early and control it permanently. This is realised by an automatic control of the production line and in line with Industry 4.0. The customer is provided with relevant information via the Sikora processor systems or directly by the measuring systems. Furthermore, our devices have an optional OPC UA interface that enables the transfer of data within all IT systems. With Sikora systems, our customers receive smart technologies of the future to deliver highest quality and make production lines more efficient.
Q. Could you describe Sikora’s India operations?
In 2004 the power cable sector started to grow in India with a number of CV being installed. This led Sikora to start their operations in India, initially as a representative office. The first X-ray device was installed in 2005. In addition to the X-ray systems, Sikora’s gauges for diameter measurement gained quick acceptance from the industry. In 2007, the company started to offer service and support in addition to sales from India. As a result, a wholly owned Indian subsidiary was set up with its head office in New Delhi. An additional regional office was opened in 2012 in Thane to support western and southern India customers. Today, Sikora India is a sales and support centre for all of the company’s activities in India.
Q. Which are the industrial sectors and clients that Sikora caters to in India?
Especially popular in the Indian market are our technologies for the automotive, building, and energy cable sector. Among others, I also expect great potential for the optical fiber market in India. In 2012, we successfully launched a series of measuring and control technologies for use in drawing towers. The FIBER Series 6000 comprises devices for diameter measurement of the uncoated and coated optical fibers. Depending on the position of the devices in the drawing tower, this series provides information about the position, vibration frequency, tension and spinning of the optical fiber. Also interesting is the detection of airlines in the optical fiber, as well as our new devices for measuring the temperature and concentricity of the optical fiber as well as for 6-axis lump detection. With our Purity Scanner we provide customers in the cable and the plastic industries with an innovative system for inspection and sorting of plastic pellets to assure highest material purity.
Q. What are the new products introduced by Sikora to the India market?
I have already talked about our Purity Scanner. The system is the outcome of a co-development with Maillefer and is used for the inspection and sorting of XLPE pellets; for example, for the the insulation of MV, HV and EHV cables. The device detects and sorts out contaminated pellets so that only clean pellets are used for the extrusion process. The system combines X-ray technology with an optical system. This allows the detection of metallic and organic impurities down to a size of 50 μm in the pellet itself and on its surface. Due to the specially developed X-ray technology, the Purity Scanner inspects transparent and coloured (e.g. black) pellets as well as semi-conductive XLPE material for impurities and sorts them out automatically. It is an innovative concept which acknowledges the trend for highest quality.
Another technological highlight is the Wire Temp 6000, a system for continuous measurement of the conductor temperature. It was initially developed as part of the Sikora conductor pre-heating and control system, PREHEATER 6000 TC and is now available as an independent online measuring device. The system measures the temperature of metallic as well as the surface temperature of insulated conductors continuously on a non-contact basis. It is designed for diameters from 0.3 to 5 mm, alternatively from 3 to 50 mm. The system is laid-out for product temperatures up to 150°C and optionally up to 250°C. The measurement of the temperature is independent of the cross-section, the material, and the structure of the conductor surface. A great advantage over conventional systems is that the temperature is measured by means of a non-contact thermal image sensor in an infrared camera, which detects the conductor reliably and provides accurate measurements with no need for calibration. The precise measuring and control of the conductor temperature is the basis for high-quality cable production.
Q. Does India also serve as an export hub for neighbouring countries?
Sikora India is also responsible for the service support of customers in Southeast Asia besides the Indian subcontinent. Sometimes our service engineers also travel to Japan and Korea for supporting our customers over there.
Q. Does the company plan to set up a manufacturing plant in India?
Our devices are exclusively manufactured at our headquarters in Bremen, Germany. There we have a strong research and development department to develop or further develop technologies specifically tailored to our customers’ needs.
Q. What impact has the new government had on sales? Is the wire and cable sector opening up?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign endeavors towards reviving the Indian economy. This has created positive sentiments within the nation and also internationally. Increased government expenditure on telecom infrastructure and projects like NOFN and broadband highway will surely propel the demand for telecom cables. Other projects like NFS by the defense sector and 4G roll out could fuel the demand as well. The market for building and automotive wires is supposed to remain stable as well. For these applications we offer innovative technologies for quality assurance.
Q. Do you foresee a requirement for custom-made machines by Sikora, especially designed for the India market?
Globally, cable extrusion lines are more or less similar. We tailor our systems to the conditions of the production line and the customer’s needs: This does not only apply to Indian but to all of our customers.
Q. What are the marketing strategies that Sikora has planned for the next one year for the India market?
We see that customers are looking for technical solutions for various applications and that they want to stand out from their competitors due to the quality of their products. We offer innovative products according to these needs. Therefore, customer proximity is very important to us. Being close to the customer is the pre-condition to support him optimally. As such, we will further increase our visits to customers, especially to the south of India. Generally, all our customers can always expect innovative technical solutions as well quick and competent support from Sikora at any time.
Q. Do you foresee any new sectors that may offer scope for marketing Sikora’s products in India?
Purity of the material is a major issue for plastic manufacturers which provide applications, for example in medical, automotive or other industrial sectors. With the Purity Scanner mentioned earlier, Sikora offers a unique solution for 100 per cent inspection and sorting of plastic pellets, ensuring that only pure material gets into the production process. We see great potential in this market.