The Transformer Association’s President, James Tabbi predicts growth for transformer manufacturing in North America, thanks to favorable domestic economic conditions, coupled with rising labour and freight costs in Asia.
James Tabbi has noticed in particular a growing tendency towards re-shoring, which bodes well for the future of American electrical manufacturing.
“During the late nineties and 2000s, the trend was to offshore. We saw a huge decline in the manufacturing of electronic transformers domestically in the US.” Tabbi says. “But over the last year or so there’s been a lot of talk about re-shoring. Much of that is to Mexico and Central America but a significant amount has been right here in the US.”
“Some companies shifted, not only the high volume work, but their complete operations to Asia and are perhaps now starting to feel this wasn’t such a good choice. For the mid-to-low volume, higher complexity work, it often makes sense to manufacture domestically.“ Tabbi affirms.
“In terms of technology and innovation, I do see certain trends that are going to be challenges.” he says. “One is power supplies moving to increasingly higher frequencies and power densities in smaller-sized transformers. This places extra demands on the quality and suitability of the raw materials, especially the core materials.”
Another issue for transformer manufacturers is the availability, pricing, shelf life and minimum buys of electrical-grade epoxies and adhesives. These materials are typically made from the by-products of petroleum and as refining techniques improve, their availability is significantly decreased.
In addition to its historical role of guiding industry standards, TTA provides a platform for the industry to network and stay abreast of technical, economic and regulatory developments. This is achieved through the association’s spring and fall meetings – and the annual CWIEME Chicago exhibition.
For TTA supplier members – roughly half of TTA’s 90 members are suppliers of materials to the transformer industry, including core materials, insulations, hardware and conductors – the trend for consolidation is an important topic for discussion.
Other hot topics for TTA members include environmental and safety regulations, lead times and general business conditions.