Brett Smyth, General Manager EMEA of Ideal Industries, discusses the quality, integrity and safety implications of choosing counterfeit connectors for electrical terminations.
Everyone loves a bargain. In the electrical sector, where margins are often tight, it’s not surprising that contractors will look for opportunities to reduce overheads by exploring value-for-money products. And after the tumultuous year we had in 2020, the drive to make cost-effective choices has never been greater. But there’s a huge difference between value for money and ‘cheap’.
While, financially, choosing the lowest cost option may seem like the right decision, unbranded consumables could have negative commercial implications that cost much more than the small savings gained from choosing the cheapest option. When it comes to cable connectors, for example, the pennies saved by using unbranded products could result in installation integrity and safety issues, which could affect repeat business and even potentially the contractor’s reputation.
What’s the difference between branded and unbranded?
If something looks the same as a branded item and does the same job, it must be the same, right? Wrong. But many contractors follow this philosophy when buying electrical consumables, where the savings gained are lowest but the potential pitfalls are just as significant.
Imagine, for a moment, that we’re not talking about connectors but about a tool, a mobile phone or a work vehicle instead, and consider whether you’d be willing to swap your branded item for something slightly less expensive and unbranded. For the vast majority of people, the answer would be ‘no’.
Why? Because they trust the brand and know that they’re buying a quality item from a reputable company. Now switch back to thinking about connectors: the same principles apply. The branded product has not only been the catalyst for a new, faster, easier and more consistent termination method; it has also been designed and tested with a meticulous research and development process that ensures it is fit-for-purpose, easy to use and provides a robust solution throughout the service life of the installation.
That design is protected by a patent, ensuring the company can continue investing in innovative product development and enable contractors to access faster, easier and more consistent installation methods.
Ideal Industries is amongst the brands that have invested in a detailed product development process for push-in and lever connectors, resulting in tested and proven products that are manufactured using quality materials. In-house manufacturing ensures that quality assurance protocols are in place to underpin product confidence, ensuring it will perform as expected, during installation and beyond.
Conversely, many unbranded, cut-price connectors are not only contravening patent law, but are often cheaply produced, without meeting the quality assurance and safety standards embedded in the product development and manufacture of branded products.
The pitfalls of using counterfeit products
So, if the product looks the same and feels the same, what’s the difference between using a branded product and an unbranded one? As a manufacturer, we have a duty to ensure we respond to consumer demand for good, quality products.
But we also have a duty to ensure we are working with our installer base – both heating engineers and electricians – and equipping them with all of the training and skills they need to grow their businesses. The benefits of installer networks and good quality training are out there for the taking – we recommend that electricians grasp the opportunities with both hands. So with the future potentially being controlled at the touch of a button, now is the time to start thinking about partnerships or upskilling your business to become ‘smart’.
It pays to make the right choices
It’s been a tough commercial climate for all aspects of the electrical delivery chain over the past few months and saving money where possible has been key to commercial resilience. Sometimes, however, it pays to invest in quality rather than cutting corners.
It can be hard to spot counterfeit connectors because they are purposefully manufactured to look like leading brands, but branded products are always clearly labelled and packaged.
View the Ideal Industries Wire Connector Solutions Catalogue by clicking here