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How serious of a threat do you beleive counterfeit electrical equipment is for electrical safety?
Serious problem
Somewhat of a problem
Not much of a problem
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 Post subject: Counterfeit Electrical Equipment and Electrical Safety
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 11:39 am 
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Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
Much has been written about the problem of counterfeit electrical products which includes equipment such as overcurrent protection and electrical distribution equipment.

How serious of a threat do you believe counterfeit electrical equipment is for electrical safety?
  • Serious problem
  • Somewhat of a problem
  • Not much of a problem
Comments about your experiences are always welcome.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:49 am 
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Location: Charlotte, NC
Bigger problem than most realize, I am very involved in this issue and have meetings and trainings from UL and the OEM's anti-counterfiet teams annually.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:22 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:10 pm
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Location: NW USA
Not aware of this but considering the critical life safety nature of system protection equipment; even one instance could be catastrophic. Perhaps ZOG can use this thread to educate us a little.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:57 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:39 am
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With the ability to produce "cosmetically" duplicate products so easily in today's global economy, it's a real concern to me that safety critical items with respect to shock and arc flash are susceptible to the same risk.

My first encounter with counterfeit components was luckily not safety-critical, just a severe inconvenience. Problems in a reputable electronic fluorescent ballast manufacturer's product were traced back to a specific component. When the component manufacturer was questioned regarding possible quality issues with the date code batch utilized in these ballasts, they informed the ballast manufacturer that the date code did not match any format that had ever been used by the component manufacturer. To the naked eye, the counterfeit components looked just like the real thing, but certainly didn't work as well, or I wouldn't be telling this story. A well-meaning "procurement specialist" obviously thought he had found a lower cost component supplier ... instead he found, at best, another counterfeiting victim, or, at worst, a crook. No safety issues resulted from this incident, but what if instead of a ballast it had been the electronic trip unit in the circuit breaker you were counting on to limit the incident energy levels in your switchgear to protect your personnel?

The lesson here is to choose your suppliers very carefully, and if the price or delivery is too good to be true, it probably is. Counterfeiting is a very real and dangerous problem to the electrical safety professional in today's global economy and corporate "low bid" procurement mentality.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:03 pm 
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The breakers found the last few years have been distributed from many suppliers covering all the major OEM's. They are primarily smaller MCCB's (Counterfieters go for quanity). Here is a recent case that was a shocker. http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1112/111208jacksonville.htm

There has yet to be a case where drawout power circuit breakers were counterfieted, they have all been MCCB's. If you do a google search you will find a whole bunch of similar cases to the one above.

PEARL is one group fighting hard against counterfieters, they post cases all the time here. http://www.pearl1.org/electrical-safety-news.htm

Lfuller said it perfectly "The lesson here is to choose your suppliers very carefully, and if the price or delivery is too good to be true, it probably is. Counterfeiting is a very real and dangerous problem to the electrical safety professional in today's global economy and corporate "low bid" procurement mentality."


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:37 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:19 am
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Location: Charlotte, NC
One way to look at it is if a counterfitted component is duplicated exactly and performs exactly as the original, then there is no problem.

But if a counterfitted component were duplicated exactly and if it performs exactly as the original, it would likely cost comparable to the original as well - so what is the point in counterfitting it?

Most likely a counterfitted component is a sub-standard component, manufactured as cheaply as possible and produced to generate the maximum profit margin with absolutely no regard to conforming to UL or any other standard.

A sub-standard part is an accident waiting to happen.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:59 pm 
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A common senario for "Counterfiet" MCCBs goes like this. A big OEM (Not picking on any one, they all do it about the same) give contract to plant in China to make 1 Million breakers of a certian type over 5 years. The OEM oversees quality for the contract. Then after 5 years the plant wants to renew the contract for more $$$, so the OEM obsoletes that model and gets a new contract with a new plant in say India.

Now there is a plant in China with equipent and workers but no contract, so they just keep making them but without the QA, engineering, and material suppliers the OEM had when they were there. Same breaker, same plant, same workers.....no QA, sub par materials, etc...

All the OEMS have ways to combat this practice bu to the untrained eye you may never know the difference, the best way to know, as mentioned earlier, if the deal seems to good to be true, it probally is.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:50 am 
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Location: Charlotte, NC
Follow up story to the one I posted above

[url='http://www.actionnewsjax.com/content/topstories/story/Man-sentenced-in-4-7M-counterfeit-circuit-breaker/zBLNCRJ2-kmgY5ss-bk3IA.cspx']http://www.actionnewsjax.com/content/topstories/story/Man-sentenced-in-4-7M-counterfeit-circuit-breaker/zBLNCRJ2-kmgY5ss-bk3IA.cspx[/url]


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