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What price quality?

Pat Delaney of CIMCO UK LTD discusses the case for quality versus price when wholesalers are selling electricians tools to their customers.

What price quality?

The first question that needs to be considered is what does quality mean? Does it mean you get what you pay for? Does it mean because it is made in one country rather than another that it must be better? Does it mean because it is stamped with an EN or VDE standard it must be good quality?

Quality is perceived, and yes, it is real. But how do you know; the price, the looks, because someone says it is good?

Quality is a choice after all. Manufacturers spend a great deal of time building a reputation for quality, but what is the real difference between a pair of pliers costing twice as much as another pair? Often the answer is complex. Firstly, the cost of a quality product comes from the fact that a lot more care has gone into the selection and treatment of the material used to make the tool. Secondly, the design has been well thought out, ensuring the ergonomics, or the fit in the hand, is as comfortable as possible. Finally, all of the individual pieces have been thoroughly tested.

In the case of pliers, side cutters, etc they are, or should be, insulated to 1000 Volts and should fulfil the requirements of IEC900, DIN EN 60900 and VDE 0682/part 201. Quality manufacturers will carry out individual tests in a water bath, and subject them to 10,000 Volts ensuring that the smallest pinprick in the insulation will be detected. Careful choice of materials and design allows minimum force to be used to use the tool. Not only is it important to have the correct strength and hardness in the steel that makes up the body, but also that the cutting edges should have received special treatment to ensure longevity, to avoid needing to be replaced every 6 months. And, the insulation should be made of a material that is non-slip and impervious to sweat, salt water, oil and many commonly encountered chemicals.

Typically, two or three different coloured insulating materials are used for premium tools. If the outer covering is scored, the other colour becomes visible. The product is then deemed unsafe and should be discarded. This really is just another built in quality check allowing continuous re-testing on-site throughout the lifetime of the tool.

Another important quality issue is seen with screwdrivers. How often does a Philips or Pozidrive head fail after a relatively short working life? Well you could, buy a new screwdriver every 3 months (!) or, better, buy quality and invest in a screwdriver that will last. This means that the best materials have been used and the tips have been given an extra degree of hardening to ensure optimum life. A smooth, three-sided shaped handle is designed to perfectly complement the 120º angle of rotation of the human hand. This optimises the manual pressure that can be exerted, and allows the hand to close right around the handle. Further refinements have resulted in a reduction in the necessary force required to be exerted by the human hand in order to increase the torque levels at the tip of the blade. So actually, in the long run, it’s not just better, it probably works out much cheaper as well.

Finally and probably most importantly, an insulated hand tool is a piece of electrical equipment that can sometimes inadvertently come into contact with live circuits - in effect putting lives in danger. We all spend a lot of time and moneymaking chances to improve our quality of life, so your customers shouldn’t risk their lives by taking chances with the quality of the tools they use. The novel, three-sided handle of a premium screwdriver is produced in a three-component injection moulding process. The innovative technology not only lends a fresh and modern look but also the use of different materials minimises user fatigue. The first component (black) is a high strength material creating an ideal bond with the hand. The second component (red) is the connecting link between the inner and outer components, and bears the abrasion-proof handle designation. The third material is a soft component with a high coefficient of friction preventing the screwdriver handle from slipping, even when hands are greasy. This enables the transfer of particularly high torque to the screwdriver tip.

Cimco are renowned for top quality, long lasting tools, which are guaranteed for life, (typically 5 to 10 years depending on usage). But what does this mean to your customer, the professional electrician – well, simply when you buy Cimco, you’ll probably never have to replace a worn out tool ever again. Their looks reflect the user benefits that have been engineered into their production, to achieve performance in everyday use not previously available in tools of this price.
CIMCO precision-engineered tools have been market leaders in Germany for many years now, and they are at last available in the UK. They include the Diamant range of Electricians tools - probably the best in the world – in fact, Cimco are so confident of their quality and durability and hence saleability that they are making a special one-off introductory sales promotion offer to wholesalers!

The deal is that CIMCO will supply you from their Reading base a fully stocked display stand for 6 months (worth £1,800). If the German precision quality and performance fails to impress your customers and they don’t sell, you simply return the tools and the stand for a full credit – that is absolutely "NO-RISK" to you.

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