Cable Evolution:
from Submarine Depths
to Space

Cable products are the basis for all industrial productions: cables supply them with power and transmit information. Cables are required in all production segments, so this industry is considered a kind of indicator for the overall status and trends of the national and global industry. We talked to Sergey Lobanov, Chief Commercial Officer of the Spetskabel plant, about how this industry lives today, whether it is possible to launch cable production without any equipment at all and how their evolution will change the life of common people even in the nearest future.
- Sergey, where and how did your plant start?

- We started with the development of cable products and the first year we worked without production at all. At that time, which was 1997, we had no technical support as well. One of the Spetskabel founders Andrey Lobanov designed cables, wrote specifications and offered them to plants in exchange for decommissioned equipment. It was a new product for the country, so enterprises readily took it into their production. He started out, I think, with LAN cables, which are the standard twisted-pair cable that connects computers and makes the Internet work. So at first, Spetskabel lived only by developments. But that was just the beginning.

- What about today?

- And today we make low-current data cables. Don't mix them up with power cables: these are two completely different products. Our products are in demand wherever information needs to be transmitted. And this is by and large any industry: industrial production, telecommunications, defense, aerospace, mechanical engineering and many others.
Sergey Lobanov and Director General, Chief Constructor of Spetskabel cable plant Andrey Lobanov
- Is the demand for your products growing?

- We work for very different industries, which means that demand is uneven. In some industries, there is development, in some - stagnation, somewhere - recession. We supply cables to various industries, so we have more or less evened out these fluctuations. Meanwhile, upgrade and adoption of new technologies is a common trend driving the demand for new, higher performance cables that offer high-speed data transmission.

- Expectations are rising, your products are evolving. What would be the ideal cable of the future?

- In computer technologies, we are likely to completely switch from copper to optic cables over time. So far, the latter one is relatively complex and expensive to produce and operate. But everyone including industrial automation strives for the same parameters: interference immunity, stable data transfer, high velocity. And it's the optics that can give it all.

- Will it have any effect on the lives of ordinary people?

- Of course, it will get better! Imagine, there will be high-speed Internet everywhere, the latest cables will provide interference immunity and guarantee protection from external connections and unauthorized access to information.

- Does this apply to the industry?

- Of course, especially since there is now a trend towards unification of communication standards in production. While optic cables in production are certainly expensive, but that's where it's going.

Generally speaking, we are already dealing with optic cables, though with the special ones. For example, specialists of the plant are developing and mastering in production a series of cables for aircraft, weapons and military equipment. They have a very large operating temperature range, shock and vibration protection and high flexibility.
"Spetskabel started with the ideas of enthusiasts and became the leading enterprise of the country. Just as 20 years ago, the company is now a close-knit team of like-minded people
- Where else are your cables used?

- Our series of ultra-lightweight symmetrical Spacewire cables are primarily designed for space and aviation applications. They are used for example on spacecraft, where the standard requires minimum weight, maximum durability and resistance to various factors. We are the only producer in Russia. Our floating cables enable robots to operate in the depths of Lake Baikal, and sealed cables are used on submarines and warships.

- Your products are unique. Are they often counterfeited?

- Counterfeiting is more of a problem for household cables and wires. This is a very simple product, it can be produced in almost any garage, and then this fake can be sold on the same construction market to those who are not versed in it. We work in a different industry and the main protection of our products is the complexity of their manufacture. Counterfeit is usually visible, so there are very few counterfeit manufacturers in our market, and it is more likely to take the form of unfair competition. For example, we developed a certain brand, promoted it, and another company starts producing cable under the same name, but it's government-issued, so it can't be protected. The name is the same, but the cable has completely different features and is much simpler. And that's something we're certainly struggling with.
Audience: 16+