GreenBrook’s Sales Director, Peter Ratcliffe, issues a word of caution against budget conduit fittings and claims that if things seem too good to be true, they usually are…
The quality of electrical products used is vital to the safety and reliability of any electrical installation. However, despite a tradition of loyalty and a routine of buying products from a name they can trust, too many specifiers and contractors are starting to prioritise cost over quality as the industry battles to offer better value to its customers.
Most manufacturers are working hard to serve their customers by keeping prices as low as possible, but if a product is significantly cheaper then it usually is so for a reason. It may be made using lower quality materials or follow an unproven design. There may also be examples where the product has not undergone the kind of rigorous health and safety testing that the UK market expects. If this is the case then the product could potentially fail or, even more seriously, be hazardous to the end user.
Quality standards such as CE marking and the European WEEE, REACH and RoHS directives are designed to safeguard against faulty or sub-standard products and they certainly have their value. However, they’re not strongly policed so have little teeth. CE marking relies entirely on self-certification with absolutely no requirement for third party checks, which leaves suppliers free to safety test their products as rigorously (or as lackadaisically) as they see fit.
The case of conduit
The humble cast iron conduit fitting provides an excellent example of why buying decisions made based entirely on price are risky and short sighted. Conduit fittings can vary significantly in quality because there are varying grades available on the market. Malleable cast iron fittings can be bent, shaped or drawn by hammers or rollers because they undergo a lengthy annealing heat treatments process when manufactured, which gives them their unique properties. Because of this they cost a little more.
Non-malleable fittings, on the other hand, may look the same but they don’t go through this process. As a result they may shatter when being installed because the different process and grade of material used to produce them results in a product that is simply too brittle. Typically, an electrical contractor may install hundreds or even thousands of conduit boxes in a single installation, so opting for cheap and cheerful conduit boxes could be a costly mistake in the long run.
Instead of looking for cost savings, it pays to trust reputable brands with years of experience of developing products that are truly fit for purpose and a clear commitment to customer service, after sales support and a reliable supply chain with plentiful availability.
It’s not surprising during these tough economic times that cost has become the number one priority right across the supply chain. However, safety and reliability should always come first. How can the industry expect to hold on to the professional reputation it deserves otherwise? It’s a principle that needs to be held sacred by all manufacturers and, unfortunately, it’s the isolated few that make it difficult to be sure which brands to trust.
Only by concentrating on delivering quality and being prepared to pay for it can the industry stem the tide of sub-standard products, otherwise it could end up counting the cost of its complacency.
For more information about the range of Norslo cable management products from Greenbrook visit: www.greenbrook.co.uk