Wires and cable are everywhere in today’s world to make our connected, electrified way of life possible. These flexible strands of metal are used to transmit data, voice, and power across short and long distances. Throughout history, wire and cable have come a long way.
In our video, Willy the Wire recalls the history of wire and cable.
Wires are Everywhere
A wire is a metal strand usually covered in insulation. If you look around, you’ll see wires and cables transmitting data and electricity everywhere. There are two basic types of wire: solid wire, which is inexpensive, rigid and fragile; and stranded wire, which is more flexible.
The history of wire and cable stretches back hundreds of years:
Industrial Revolution. Rapid innovation in technique and machinery changed the way we produced a wide range of goods, from textiles to iron. The steam engine made it possible for miners to keep up with the Industrial Revolution’s high demand for coal.
Michael Faraday. In the 1820s, Faraday discovered electromagnetic conduction by experimenting with a magnet and a current-carrying wire.
The Light Bulb. After testing more than 3,000 designs, Thomas Edison filed the patent for his electric light bulb in 1879.
Power Lines. In 1889, electricity was transmitted 14 miles to power lights in Portland, Oregon. This was the first long distance transmission of electricity.
The Telegraph. Samuel Morse helped to invent the telegraph and sent the first message in 1844. In 1861, Western Union established itself as a national telegraph company by laying the first transcontinental telegraph line.
The Second Industrial Revolution. Between 1870 and 1914, the world saw another rush of innovation, from steel manufacturing to long distance transportation by railroads. Electricity was better understood and harnessed for production, communication, and more.
Telephone. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell secured a patent for the telephone and placed a call within a few days. The Bell Telephone Company was established the following year.
Factory Electrification. In the early 1900s, electric power increased production and changed the roles of factory workers.
Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable. Understanding the demand for standard and custom wire, cable, and more, our company incorporated in Chicago in 1919.
World War II. Communication and manufacturing demands increased significantly, and Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable worked as an OEM to meet the Allies’ need for wire and cable.
The Post-War Boom. Unemployment was at an all-time low, and Americans were ready to spend their money and enjoy life again. This led to growth in radio, television, home appliances, cars, and more. Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable was ready with wire and cable solutions.
Automobiles. With mass production and the affordable Model T, Ford Motor Company made car ownership accessible to millions of Americans.
Factory Automation. Automatic processes keep prices low for the consumer by reducing manufacturing costs and making precise replication faster. This was made possible by high-tech wire and cable capable of transmitting power and data.
Lighting. Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable supplies wiring and cable for the growing demand for lighting streets, film, TV and theatre, and horticulture.
Medical Needs.Medical equipment, like MRIs, defibrillators, and ultrasound probes, must adhere to strict regulations. The wiring that powers this equipment must be safe and reliable for high-volume use. Our retractable cords, wire coatings, and more are found in medical facilities throughout the country.
Modern Day. Wire and cable are present in many of our modern-day innovations. Telecommunications, the internet, microprocessors, quantum computing, and remote work are all made possible by wire. Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable is proud to contribute something integral to our past, present, and future.
In the workplace, you’re bound to have countless social interactions. Both working and personal relationships form naturally as you collaborate with your colleagues, share lunch breaks, borrow supplies, and make plans for the annual holiday party or monthly happy hour. For many people, those social interactions are the highlight of a busy workday; they help you build a network where you can vent, celebrate, and feel like part of a team.
At least, that’s what it’s usually like, but there’s nothing “usual” about the current situation. Among the workers who were able to keep their jobs, 62% of them were working from home in April. Even in manufacturing facilities, where remote work isn’t possible, colleagues who used to work next to each other are now required to practice social distancing. All of this diminishes opportunities for building relationships.
Maintaining those connections is as important as getting the work done—and connecting is often essential for getting the work done in the first place. As more people move to a remote working situation—some of them permanently—we’re more reliant than ever on the wire and cable solutions that power the equipment we need to work and socialize.
What Do You Need to Work From Home?
Successful remote work relies on a properly equipped home office. The standing desk, calendar white board, and inspiring artwork are part of that, of course, but we’re really talking about the hardware that will keep you connected. Your company should issue some guidelines or requirements to help you get started.
Computer:It all starts here. You probably already have one, but you’ll need to make sure you have the appropriate amount of memory and a large enough screen to do your job.
High-Speed Internet: Hard-wired Internet is often more reliable than wireless, which is why some companies feel better about having you literally plugged in. However, that requires different equipment, so talk to your local Internet provider to get what you need. You can’t afford any dropped calls or lost connections when you’re doing business.
Noise-Canceling Telephone or Headset With a Microphone: Depending on your job, you may have to make and receive phone calls, and depending on your unique home office, there may be noise you need to block out. This is an investment that can save you from a lot of distraction.
External Webcam: Your computer might already have one, but if not, you can buy one that easily plugs into the USB port. Even if you’ve never used one before, you may find yourself needing it for virtual meetings.
Printer and Scanner: Our paperless world still uses a lot of paper. Hopefully your employer will provide you with the scanner/printer; if not, your life will be easier if you pick one up.
And More: A wireless keyboard and mouse, dual monitors, an external hard drive, and a USB hub may not be necessary, but they’re nice to have. You don’t want to find yourself in a frustrating situation where you think, “This would be so much easier if I only had the right tools.”
Wire & Cable Powering Working From Home
While you need all the equipment listed above, all that equipment needs wire and cable! Without it, working from home wouldn’t be an option.
Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable is a one-stop source for all your wire and cable needs. From standard and custom electronic wire to power supply cords, molded cable assemblies, wiring harnesses, and more, we’ve got what you need for your specific application. For more than 100 years, we have been serving customers in nearly every industry and market—wire and cable is needed everywhere—and we’ve got the experience and skills to tackle even the most challenging performance requirements.
Contact the experts at Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable to learn more about how we can help you set up your home office. We’re always happy to answer your questions.
It is not lost on us that we are amidst an unprecedented time in our country and we are all receiving a large volume of communications on a variety of topics. For this reason, our message is brief.
Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable remains fully operational, fulfilling all orders and service requests in support of our essential businesses. If you have any thoughts, concerns, questions as it relates to the COVID-19 impact or otherwise, regarding lead times, product availability, health, sanitation policies, or the safety measures taken to protect employees and contacts, please reach out directly to your aligned Consolidated Sales Representative so that we may address it personally. Additional contact information is below:
As you know, our economic and political landscape is evolving at a rapid pace. The team at Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable is committed to keeping you informed as pertinent information becomes available. Please stay safe and exercise responsible common sense best practices!
President, Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable
Wire and cable applications and installations rely upon many different technical terms that may not be familiar to those outside the industry. This blog will define many of these terms to help readers develop a thorough understanding of terminology used in the wire and cable industry.
Through nearly a century of business, Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable has served a multitude of industries and applications, which has provided us with the experience necessary to fully understand our customers and their electronic wire and cable needs.
This understanding has significantly contributed to the design and construction of our custom cable solutions and has allowed us to manufacture the best product for each of our customers’ unique needs.
Simply put: At Consolidated, we understand your industry, the challenges you face and the solutions you need.
We encourage you to visit our Portfolios section to view some of the great work we’ve done across a diverse range of industries and applications. Listed below are a few new portfolios, showcasing why Consolidated is a leading manufacturer and national source for electronic wire and cable solutions.
Custom Hospital-Grade Retractile Cord
The customer’s previous retractile cord hung down and obstructed medical devices, thereby limiting equipment functionality. Consolidated successfully designed a hospital-grade solution that met the client’s exact needs.
Evaluating the needs of a particular project and familiarizing yourself with gauging systems and the qualities of particular gauges can help to ensure the right wire selection.
American Wire Gauge (AWG) is the official United States standard method for measuring round, solid conductors. The measure, or gauge, denotes the cross-sectional areas of a wire and thus helps to determine its capacity for carrying current as well as resistivity.
Gauges are based on whole numbers, of which there are 44 standard AWG sizes, along with size 00, 000 and 0000. Gauging is named by the number of dies a standard wire size passes through during production, and every six gauge increase is the equivalent to a doubling of the wire’s diameter. Every three gauge increase is roughly a doubling of the wire’s area.
Higher gauge, or thinner wire, is broadly optimal for long distances and maintaining conductivity. It’s also more common to find solid wire in a higher gauge.
A wire with a lower gauge number refers to thicker wire. It can carry more amps at a time, but depending upon the application it may not be as effective. The thicker a wire, the more likely it will be most effective as a stranded product.
Wires larger than 0000 or 4/0 are typically measured in 1,000 circular mils (kcmil or MCM), where one cmil is the area of a circle with a diameter of one mil (1/1,000 inch). Also applicable to smaller wires and easily found with a simple formula, the circular mil area of a solid wire is always the equivalent of that wire’s diameter in mils, squared.
Stranded Wire and Gauge
Because of air pockets and varying types of insulation in stranded wire, gauges aren’t quite as straightforward, especially to the naked eye. For any given size in AWG, the stranded wire will take up more physical space than a solid wire equivalent, because the wire gauge is measured based upon the sums of each strand’s cross-sectional area (circular mils), not its overall size
Stranding also affects diameter measurements of the overall wire for the same reasons. The same gauge size in both a solid and stranded conductor can have a very different diameter, as gauge is always a measure of the size of the wire, independent of its insulation or arrangement.
Even stranded conductors with the same gauge size can display different diameters, depending upon the conductor strand types. Different strand types and quantities can produce thousands of combinations to create the ideal conductor for an application, an especially useful quality for wires in larger projects.
AWG and Resistance
The variations in AWG specifically affect a wire’s resistance, which also varies based on material for any conductor (copper, aluminum, silver, etc.). Resistance is essentially the way current will be converted to heat while moving through the wire conductor. Low resistance wire loses less energy to heat.
The larger a conductor, the lower its provided resistance. A stranded conductor tends to have larger electrical resistance than its solid counterpart.
Depending upon a wire’s application, resistance and gauge can be more or less essential. For example:
Power Plant Systems: Minimal resistance is essential for efficient transfer.
Speaker Circuits: Excessive resistance causes loss of high-frequency energy—the system will sound very different depending upon a proper gauge.
Audio Interconnects: These high-impedance circuits aren’t directly affected in a meaningful way by wire gauge.
Analog and Digital Video: Wire gauge only moderately influences signal output.
Other Gauging Systems
Not unlike the different measurement systems for volume and distance that we encounter daily, multiple gauging systems have emerged for wire over time.
For instance, the Washburn and Moen (W&M), U.S. Steel, and Music Wire Gauges govern different methods and applications specifically for steel-based wire. You may also find wire measured in Standard Wire Gauge, or SWG. This system is the official Imperial measurement, and it’s sanctioned by the British Board of Trade.
Another British system, the British Standard for metallic materials (BS 6722: 1986), is often used in replacement of SWG. It is based completely on the metric system, and includes wire among other materials. The naming in this system is based upon ten times whatever a wire’s diameter measures in millimeters. You’ll find that these wires are generally labeled and referred to directly by millimeter measurement, skipping the gauge entirely.
October 2 marks the fourth annual celebration of Manufacturing Day. This year, nearly 1,000 manufacturers across the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico will celebrate the event by opening their doors to the public for open houses, demonstrations, expositions, conferences, and other events.
Manufacturing Day, often shortened to MFD DAY, was founded in 2012 by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), and the Manufacturing Institute.
These four organizations — among the largest and most important trade organizations in the country — joined together to find a way to help improve the public perception of manufacturing in America.
By bringing manufacturers together with the public, MFG DAY serves several important purposes.
First, it literally brings manufacturers together. MFG DAY has given American manufacturers from across the country and across innumerable industries a way to unify their voices. They can identify common challenges and work together to develop solutions.
Second, MFG DAY allows manufacturers, and manufacturing as a whole, to help dictate their public image. Many Americans have an antiquated view of industry, and MFG DAY allows manufacturers to invite the public to learn what it’s really like.
Third, manufacturers can use MFG DAY to address one of the most serious problems they all face — the shortage of skilled labor. MFG DAY is a vital opportunity for manufacturers to show the public that a career in manufacturing can be very rewarding.
And finally, MFG DAY gives manufacturers the chance to help their communities thrive, for this generation and for all future generations.
Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable hopes Manufacturing Day 2015 is a huge success for all participants and that our future generations find themselves inspired by the manufacturing industry.
At Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable, we are committed to providing our customers with the resources they need to make an informed decision. On our website, we offer a variety of technical documents with information regarding NEMA configurations, color coding and insulation tips, and other wire and cable specific information.
Solid & Stranded AWG Chart: AWG-specification information for all outside diameter & wire types, including solid, concentric, rope bunched & more.
NEMA Configurations for Plugs & Receptacles: NEMA plug & receptacle configurations for voltage ranging from 125V to 600V, 15 to 60 amperes.
Color Coding Charts: Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable’s color coding charts for various types of cable & wire products.
Wire Insulation Characteristics: A comparison of various types of wire insulation materials, including PVC, polyethylene, polypropylene, rubber, Neoprene, TPR & PEP.
NEMA Number Nomenclature: View the NEMA number nomenclature for plugs & receptacles, as well as current ratings & voltages.
Cable Standards Reference Guide: View the Cable Standards Reference Guide for NEC catalog reference information and a cable substitution chart.
We encourage you to visit the Technical Info area of our website to view these documents. We hope they prove to be of some use to you and that you find the information you are looking for.
No matter the industry or application, customers today face a tremendous number of available choices of manufacturers. Every product and service presents an almost limitless amount of options, as well as the vendors who offer these goods.
The sheer variety can overwhelm procurement managers, OEMs, and other customers. These companies need to be able to easily see what sets a manufacturer apart, why their products and services are beneficial, and why they are a company with whom a customer should partner.
Selecting a Wire & Cable Manufacturer for Your Product
Companies throughout industries rely on wire and cable for a diverse range of projects like electrical service, computer networking, signalization, and security. Each of these applications imposes demands on a manufacturer to be accommodating and dependable, and provide cost-effective wire and cable solutions.
Choosing the right manufacturer and supplier who can offer you an ideal combination of reliability, quality, and affordability requires awareness of a number of factors.
Capabilities – Begin by examining a manufacturer’s capabilities. If they create a diverse range of wire and cable products, allowing for customization of a number of unique applications, that company is more likely to provide a reliable product.
Cost – A reliable wire and cable manufacturer will be able to offer competitive prices, especially on custom and bulk orders.
Quality – Make sure that a manufacturer has the proper certifications, like ISO 9001 and QS-9000, which denote attention to detail and quality control throughout the company.
Choosing Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable as Your Partner
With over almost a century of experience fabricating and manufacturing custom wire and cable solutions for numerous industries, Consolidated knows exactly what it takes to make a great partner. Our electronic wire and cable, power supply cords, cable assemblies and other products are ideal for use in industries ranging from aerospace, agricultural, and utilities to gaming, broadcast, and home entertainment.
For a detailed look into how Consolidated fits all the requirements of a great partner and manufacturer, we encourage you to explore our company guide, Bringing Ideas Together. Inside, you will find a full list of our capabilities and how we can deliver the unique custom solution for your requirements.
Nothing is worse than having a wire or cable fail on your commercial or industrial project. Not only can it mean downtime and costly repairs, but it can also ruin your reputation. At Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable, we know how difficult it can be to choose the exact wire for your unique applications.
That is why we created a free eBook for our customers. It is titled: Choosing a Wire & Cable Manufacturer for Your Product. This eBook is written to help you make the right wire and cable choice. This downloadable eBook, which is available on our website, covers a wide range of topics, each of which make picking the precise wire or cable easier and more cost-efficient.
Let’s take a closer look at our new eBook, section by section.
In this section, our experts lay out the three main capabilities you should demand of your wire and cable provider which include:
A reliable manufacturer makes a wide range of products, and allows for customized or completely unique products.
A second capability that’s non-negotiable is flexible manufacturing capacity. Your wire & cable provider should be able to produce prototype runs as well as large volume orders.
The last capability that is important to inquiry about is the availability of comprehensive engineering services. In-house engineering support services are a must for any project, even if custom wire & cable isn’t required.
After capabilities, cost is the next crucial zone to consider when choosing a wire and cable provider. Our eBook takes you through the hidden charges you should keep an eye out for as well as tips on how to save time and money.
No matter how affordable something is, if the quality is low, it could jeopardize your overall project or application. Choosing a Wire & Cable Manufacturer for Your Product teaches you how to properly judge quality.
These tips include, checking what industrial, precision, and operational standards your manufacturer is certified in, and how to investigate the extent your supplier goes into inspecting raw materials and finished products.
Single Point Supplier
The final section deals with why you should try to find a wire and cable manufacturer that offers one-stop shopping. You need a supplier that has the manufacturing capabilities which can grow with you.
Everyone at Consolidated Wire believes that if you follow the advice laid out in Choosing a Wire & Cable Manufacturer for Your Product, you will never be stuck with subpar wire and cable again.
To download a free copy of Choosing a Wire & Cable Manufacturer for Your Product, please visit the eBook page and simply fill in the quick form. If you want to learn how Consolidated Wire can fulfill all of these demands for your next wire or cable project, please contact us directly today.