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Making a stand against sub-standard cabling

When cable distributor, UK Cables, queried a Turkish consignment of PVC flexible cable, internal quality checks exposed a major cabling defect that has led to the withdrawal of many millions of metres of cables from the UK supply chain.

UK Cables is a supplier of electrical, data and telephony cables and had been trading with Atlas Kablo of Turkey for just over a year. An initial trial order was received on time with product labelled and packaged appropriately. The cable carried a HAR scheme certification licence from the Turkish Standards Institution, TSE and had been independently tested by BASEC (British Approvals Service for Cables) to prove it to be compliant with relevant British Standards specifications.

Delivery of subsequent orders proved to be less reliable and UK Cables reduced its purchases from Atlas Kablo. In January 2010, however, UK Cables received competitive pricing from Atlas Kablo for PVC flexible cable type HO5VV-F with a confirmed shipment date. It decided to place an order with Atlas Kablo for PVC flexible cable and it was duly delivered into UK Cables’ Manchester operation in March.

However, a routine physical inspection identified an irregular strand formation on the 1.5mm conductor of 27 strands of 0.19mm – most manufacturers produce 27-30 strands of 0.25mm for a 1.5mm cross section. It was at this point that concerns were raised about the products construction and safety.

UK Cables contacted Atlas Kablo to voice its concerns but the company insisted that the quality of the copper used in the construction enabled the conductor resistance value to be achieved without using a conventional strand formation.

Ongoing communication ensued and UK Cables received a test certificate from Atlas Kablo confirming a conductor resistance pass for the 1.5mm cable. UK Cables continued to have reservations about the credibility of the information supplied and made the decision to quarantine all goods.

Aware of the launch of the recent launch of the Approved Cables Initiative (ACI), it sent samples of the cable for testing. Several of the samples were tested from 0.75mm to 2.5mm and were found to have insufficient copper leading to high conductor resistance which meant that they did not comply with appropriate British Standards. All samples failed on conductor resistance values and the sample of 1.5mm cable even failed the conductor test for 1.00mm.

UK Cables informed Atlas Kablo of the test results as well as BASEC. Independent testing by BASEC later confirmed the ACI’s findings and led to the suspension of Atlas Kablo’s BASEC licence for a serious decline in quality across its range of products. This suspension is still in place today.


Nigel, Gallie, Product Procurement Manager for UK Cables said: "We are very pleased to have been able to identify this issue and bring it to the attention of relevant authorities. In this instance it is clear that the ACI is already playing a vital role in raising the issue of non-spec cables and will continue to act promptly in the future."

"It is important that we work together as an industry to stop faulty, highly dangerous cable entering the market. By being vigilant, we have been able to protect our customers this time but this is a growing issue and one where all industry parties throughout the supply chain need to take action before safety is compromised and lives are lost," continued Gallie.

To date more than 14 million metres of faulty cable has been returned for scrapping by Atlas Kablo. Anyone in receipt of affected cable is advised to contact their supplier and further guidance should be sought from a qualified electrical authority if cables have already been installed.

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