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More investment is needed to tackle counterfeit cables

The International Authentication Association (IAA) is urging cable manufacturers to invest even more in anti-counterfeiting strategies and technologies, and not reduce their efforts in an attempt to save costs, during the current tough trading conditions.

The chairman of the IAA commented recently on the British Cables Association initiative to tackle the problem of counterfeit cables. The ‘Approved Cables Initiative’ (ACI) aims to address the issue of unsafe, non-approved and counterfeit cables from the UK market. The initiative has the backing of various industry bodies including the British Approvals Service for Cables (BASEC), the Electrical Distributors Association (EDA), Electrical Contractors Association (ECA), Electrical Safety Council and the NICEIC Group.

The IAA believes that there are still too many dangerous cables entering the UK via organised importers who are not complying with their legal duties under UK regulations. Once in the supply chain they are very difficult to track and trace - stockists could even be breaking the law without realising it.

The UK market for electrical cables and systems has an approximate value of £2bn. It is estimated that up to 20% of cable products in the cable systems supply chain are unsafe, non-approved or fake.

This is a major concern for the industry – and many manufacturers, installers and end users may not even be aware of the health and safety threat it poses or the legal ramifications for an organisation or individual.

Furthermore, these cables present life threatening risks to the public. Nearly 30% of all electrical fires are attributed to electrical products which use faulty wires and cables, according to Department of Communities and Local Government statistics.

IAA chairman Jim Rittenburg, who says the ACI is a step in the right direction to addressing the problem, believes combating counterfeits is an effective way to maintain turnover and market share.

He said: "Manufacturers are already under pressure from higher energy, labour, materials and financing costs and for some an automatic reaction will be to compensate by cutting expenditure wherever possible – with investment in authentication technologies that help prevent counterfeits and maintain brand integrity a likely candidate. The temptation to cut back is obvious but we support the ACI’s aim to educate the electrical supply chain through seminars and marketing material.

"Continuing investment in features and systems that prevent losses will help companies through the hard times ahead. We also urge those in the supply chain routinely check cable markings and reels, checking identification tags. Anything suspicious should be reported straight away."

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