Industry 4.0 is truly the future of manufacturing. Automation, robotics, machine learning, and data analytics are just a few examples of how the fourth industrial revolution affects the way wire and cable is made and how well companies compete on the world stage.

Interwire 2021 Trade Exposition – Industry 4.0 in Wire Manufacturing

Q&A with Tom Heberling, 2021 President | The Wire Association International, Inc.


9/10/21 Update - WAI’s Board of Directors cancels Interwire 2021 Industry 4.0.  Virtual conference set for October 26-27, 2021


Give us some background on yourself and the Wire Association.

This year I have the honor to lead the Wire Association International (WAI) as its 2021 President. The Association has a strong, 91-year history of serving the educational needs of wire manufacturers.

Having been actively involved with the Association leadership—and the beneficiary of years’ worth of educational experience gained at WAI events—I can attest to the intrinsic value of its programs. The WAI’s international conferences and exhibitions are an essential resource for professionals to see, hear, and learn about the technological advances in wire manufacturing.

This year is particularly important to me as the Association’s leadership prepares for the Interwire 2021 Exposition at the Georgia World Congress Center, in Atlanta, a venue both close to my home base and my professional role as the vice president of wire and cable manufacturing at Southwire Company LLC.


You are hosting Interwire 2021 in October in Atlanta, GA. Tell us about the conference.

This year marks the 40th year since the Interwire exposition was introduced in Atlanta. The show is known for being the largest marketplace of its kind for wire and cable in the Americas and it draws global interest. The Wire Association hosts the event and runs its annual conference in conjunction with the exposition which includes technical and practical manufacturing presentations. This year the entire event carries an Industry 4.0 theme.

For the first time registrants will have access to all conference offerings in the WAI theater, exhibits, production solutions demonstrations, conference sessions, 15-minute briefings, and welcome reception.

WAI’s most popular training program “Fundamentals of wire manufacturing,” will be offered as a hybrid course this year. It has become a staple for those new to the wire industry. The program is led by 13 industry veterans and covers general, ferrous, and nonferrous topics. Interwire has the support of 24 important sponsors, which help draw attention to the value of this in-person event.


What new features can attendees expect at Interwire 2021?

New to the show this year is an Industry 4.0 Pavilion featuring 12 companies that work in this space. The idea for the Pavilion was to introduce smart manufacturing technology to attendees by highlighting companies that use these new technologies in wire manufacture as well as companies that provide the tools and software to realize these new advances.

The conference sessions and 15-minute briefings will also focus on Industry 4.0 topics. All of the activities, including a welcome reception, will take place in the exhibition hall rather than throughout the GWCC and other locations as in years past.


What types of topics will be part of the conference?

Intelligent industrial automation; artificial intelligence; the Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT); smart sensors; connected workers; inline quality control for autonomous manufacturing; smart factories; and big data are some of the highlights. (See the full program is shown here)


Why is Industry 4.0 playing such a key role in the conference?

Industry 4.0 is truly the future of manufacturing. Automation, robotics, machine learning, and data analytics are just a few examples of how the fourth industrial revolution affects the way wire and cable is made and how well companies compete on the world stage. The conference organizers recognized the need to formally introduce Industry 4.0 concepts at Interwire so that attendees can explore the topic in the conference sessions and briefings as well as in the exhibit hall.


Tell us about the Keynote speakers.

We’ve arranged for two speakers; one for each day of the show. Both are inspirational. Both presenters focus on a desire for change to make every day a rewarding experience—one emphasizing leadership, the other through operational improvements and technology.

The first is award-winning documentary filmmaker Brett Culp, founder of The Rising Heroes Project. He will address the audience with his presentation titled: “Superhero Leadership: How everyday people can have an extraordinary impact.”

The second—from Southwire’s leadership team—is Kathleen Edge, Executive Vice President of Operations at Southwire who will discuss “Southwire’s connected flexible operating system.”


Who typically attends Interwire? Why do you feel this is such an important event for wire manufacturers?

We generally see operations and plant management personnel; quality assurance, technical and engineering professionals; and senior level managers at Interwire. Professionals from all areas of wire manufacturing participate including those from the general, ferrous and nonferrous sectors.

Anyone who is involved in the manufacture of wire and cable, or in supplying product to this far-reaching industry, should participate because the show is a forum focused on the newest manufacturing methods and technology. Interwire provides an unequalled a way to collaborate with like-minded professionals in an educational setting.

I know that Southwire will be well represented at Interwire again this year.


What does registration cost and include?

Since all activities will be held on the exhibit floor, registration includes the Industry 4.0 sessions, exhibits, keynotes, production solution demonstrations, and the welcome reception. Pricing for advance registration (by October 8, 2021) is as follows: WAI member: $75 USD; New WAI member: $140 USD; Nonmember: $175. Registration for the hybrid Fundamentals of Wire Manufacturing course is separate with advance rates as follows: WAI member: $295 USD; New WAI member: $395 USD; Nonmember: $445. 9.


How can people learn more?

The exhibition and conference details are available at People can register and make lodging arrangements right through the site. Any additional inquiries can be directed to





About Thomas Heberling
Thomas Heberling is vice president, wire and cable manufacturing, at Southwire Co., where he has worked for nearly 35 years. A WAI member since 2010, Heberling has served the Association in multiple roles, one of the most crucial being when he served as co-chair of the WAI Member Relations Committee from 2012–2014. In this role, he carried out a Board initiative that reshaped the educational products serving the industry, and served to further strengthen the value of membership in the Association. In May 2017, he received the President’s Award for his lasting contribution to the Association and the industry for his work on the Member Relations Committee. 

Heberling became a WAI Director in 2017, and has served as an Executive Committee liaison to multiple committees. He now serves in that role for the Nominating and Exhibition Planning committees. He is a graduate of Auburn University, where he earned a B.S. degree in industrial engineering.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow
The Wire Association International, Inc. (WAI)

The Wire Association International, Inc. (WAI)

The Wire Association International (WAI), Inc., founded in 1930, is a worldwide technical society for wire and cable industry professionals. Based in Madison, Connecticut, USA, WAI collects and shares technical, manufacturing, and general business information to the ferrous, nonferrous, electrical, fiber optic, and fastener segments of the wire and cable industry. WAI hosts trade expositions, technical conferences, and educational programs.

More about The Wire Association International, Inc. (WAI)

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