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Jul 13, 2012

Counterfeit electric equipment in SA threatens lives

Engineering|Africa|CBI-Electric|Components|Contractor|Copper|European Conformity|Fire|German Verband Der Elektrotechnik|Installation|Safety|Underwriters Laboratories|Africa|South Africa|United States|Authentic Electric Equipment|Counterfeit Device|Counterfeit Devices|Earth Leakage Devices|Electric Equipment Manufacturer|Equipment|Low-voltage Equipment|Manufacturing|Products|Steel|Michael Grant|Far East
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Counterfeit electric goods that do not pass South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) tests not only burn when loaded below the rated current and fail breaking capacity tests but also endanger South African lives, South African electric equipment manufacturer CBI-Electric senior electrical engineer Dr Michael Grant warns.

Consumer awareness of these goods in South Africa and demands for authenticity, how- ever, could ensure that contractors use authentic electric equipment.

The counterfeit circuit breakers and earth leakage devices look almost identical to CBI-Electric’s low-voltage equipment and are fraudulently stamped with the company’s name.

“These devices are meant to protect lives, but 100% of all counterfeit goods tested by us, under supervision of the SABS, have failed all rating tests,” he notes.

Grant says that some of the components in the counterfeit devices are made of steel instead of copper, which increases the heat generated, and the devices fail to interrupt a fault current.

“The plastic components of our devices contain special fire retardants and degassing additives and are, therefore, high-quality components – the counterfeit goods have no such additives and readily burn.

“However, CBI-Electric tests its products according to high standards, including SABS standards and international standards set by US-based Underwriters Laboratories, German Verband der Elektrotechnik and European Conformity, and the authentic products pass, and even surpass, all rigorous tests. The counterfeit devices do not,” he notes.

The counterfeit devices are also fraudulently imprinted with the accreditation marks of these international standards authorities, but Engineering News witnessed, under controlled conditions, how a counterfeit device smoked and burned before the rated current was achieved. CBI-Electric also carried out standard breaking capacity tests on a counterfeit device, which exploded.

“These counterfeits fail even under normal operating conditions, not to mention fault conditions. They are apparently imported from the Far East. The State is working with industry to prevent the influx of these goods, but consumers must be aware of the presence of these devices for their own safety,” highlights Grant.

The counterfeit devices fail the mandatory tests that electricians must carry out on them before they are installed. Contractors generally buy them because they are cheaper, but by ensuring that your contractor buys the goods from authorised distributors, you can ensure that authentic equipment is installed, he notes.

All CBI-Electric devices have a complete and traceable history of their manufacturing.
“Electricians must be aware that by using counterfeit goods, they will compromise the certificate of compliance for a structure, and will be directly liable should these devices fail,” he stipulates.

“Local manufacturers anchor skills in the South African economy and we adhere to strict international standards for electrical devices. We call on any individuals, electricians, contractors, electrical installation companies and industry to contact us about manufacturing history and authenticity, and for approved distributors on our hotline – 0860 273257,” concludes Grant.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
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