Head of labelling at Brother UK, Mike Kelly, explores some common issues with labelling among electricians and advises on the importance of professional labelling in the sector.
Labelling is part and parcel of every electrician’s work, from marking sockets to identifying wires and consumer units. Cementing this, research from information, communication and technology services provider, Brother UK, has revealed that – when it’s done badly – labelling can also be the route source of many problems for electricians and contractors.
The technology specialist, who have worked with the industry for decades, conducted research to reveal the top problems with unsatisfactory labelling and how electricians are approaching it.
What are the biggest problems caused by poor labelling?
“Our research revealed that poor-quality labelling causes issues for organisations in two key areas: confusion with electrical equipment, which leads to errors, and breaches of policies and regulations.
“Electricians and contractors told us that unsatisfactory labels – which may be unclear or poor quality – can lead to mistakes when using equipment on site, or with the testing, accreditation or documentation of equipment. Some of those asked even said that it has led to confusion during evacuation drills or emergencies which obviously pose a worrying safety risk.
“The other main problem with poor-quality labelling is it leading to breaches of internal company policies, as well as potential non-compliance with the requirements of insurance policies which could result in invalidity. This not only poses potential safety hazards, but also has significant financial implications.”
What have you found is the reason behind poor-quality labelling?
“Some electricians we speak to tell us that poor-quality labelling can be down to the individual completing the task, who may have rushed the job or labelled incorrectly which is a separate issue in itself. In our experience, however, poor labelling often comes down to the quality of the labels being used.
“In this industry, labels need to be durable and capable of withstanding all kinds of environments – whether that’s extreme temperatures or diverse weather conditions.
“According to our research, almost half of electricians and contractors are labelling their work using handwritten labels. The concern here is that, although electricians are completing the labelling in the correct and professional way, the labels and the ink used on them are not capable of withstanding these different climates. In the long term, the quality of the labelling may deteriorate and lead to the issues identified with unsatisfactory labelling in our research.”
Is there an alternative to hand-written labels?
“Brother produces a range of label printers designed specifically for electricians and electrical contractors. Our technology aims to streamline the labelling process for electricians, making it more eﬃcient and professional.
“Our flagship PT-E550W prints clear, durable labels which can be used across different components and sites.
“Our models come with a variety of built-in templates, including high-voltage warning signs, meaning users can design and print bespoke labels instantly, including warning and instructional labels, PAT test labels, as well as labels to identify RCDs and cable wrap/flag.
“Leaving customers with an electrical system that is labelled with clear and customised labels will give them confidence that the work has been completed by professionals, and is in line with wiring regulations. Not only will this help uphold the reputation of you and your company, but it will also make things simpler and safer for your customers in the long term.”
Brother’s Rainmakers CSI research was conducted between August 2015 and March 2016 in the UK, France, Germany and Italy with over 1,000 electrical professionals.
What else is important when it comes to labelling?
“Another key learning of our research was the changing way that electricians are working with 93% admitting to using a smartphone at work and, even more interestingly, 62% to using work-related apps.
“With this in mind, we developed our free Cable Label app, which electricians can use to print labels directly from smartphones and tablets – useful when working on site. The app offers a wide range of templates, meaning electricians can design bespoke labels on mobile devices and print them instantly. This ease of use has led to widespread usage in the industry and over 13 kilometers of labels have been printed via the app in the UK alone.”