Why Counterfeits Should Not Be Welcome Where Product Performance Is Critical

Each year, the counterfeiting of well-known electrical brands continues to increase worldwide, making up an estimated five to seven percent of world trade. This is a disturbing global trend that makes it particularly important for professionals in occupations where electrical product performance is critical to understand how to avoid counterfeits and the safety threats that can accompany such unsafe lookalikes.

A counterfeit is a product, service, or package for a product that uses, without authorization, the trademark, service mark, or copyright of another. The purpose is to deceive prospective customers into believing that the product or service is genuine. These hazardous copies, including circuit breakers, extension cords, and surge protectors, are often made without regard for electrical safety and may not even meet minimal performance specifications. As a result, using counterfeit products can lead to a high risk for failure or malfunction. These failures can cause electric shock, overheating, or short circuits, which often lead to equipment failure, fires, or explosions that can cost workers their lives and cause substantial property damage.

There are many occupational environments where electrical product performance is particularly critical. These occupations depend on electrical equipment to provide critical services, such as patient care, delivering water to homes and buildings, or educating our nation's youth.

It's important for employees across all industries, especially those who work in critical environments, to understand why counterfeit electrical products can have negative consequences on their occupational environment.

Key Sectors Where Electrical Performance Is Critical
The following is a selection of a few of those professions where electrical product performance is critical:

Health care facilities: Health care facilities rely on electrical equipment for everything from lighting to life-saving medical devices. With many of these technologies depending on reliable electrical power, health care facilities are particularly predisposed to the grave safety threats posed by counterfeit electrical products. Any product malfunction or failure resulting in loss of power can leave less-than-desirable results for patients connected to or around electrical equipment at the time of the occurrence.

Public service providers: No one wants to be without water, gas, or electricity. By using genuine electrical products, public service providers can help avoid potential unplanned outages related to suspect or counterfeit products that could inhibit services from reaching customers.

Data centers: As technology continues to evolve, customers expect uninterrupted access to services and instant interaction. In settings such as data centers, where facility managers require the highest degree of availability for their equipment, any downtime can caused by outages can be harmful. Downtime risks posed by the installation and use of counterfeit electrical products is one event that is possible to avoid. Inexpensive electrical products sourced outside of authorized resellers may seem appealing at first, but if these "bargains" seem too good to be true, they likely are.

Educational institutions: An estimated 25 percent of all non-confined school building fires occur because of an electrical malfunction. Educational facilities can avoid potential fires caused by product malfunctions by sourcing only authentic electrical products, including circuit breakers, directly from authorized resellers.

High-risk environments: The safety and reliability of electrical equipment in high-risk environments, including the nuclear and mining industries, are absolutely critical to maintain quality of electrical power and protect the facility's electrical equipment. Professionals working in these environments should demand only genuine products are sourced from authorized resellers with a documented chain of commerce to ensure authenticity.

The best defense against counterfeiting is to always buy directly from the manufacturer's authorized distributors or resellers. There is a higher risk of counterfeits if you cannot trace the path of commerce to the original manufacturer.

It's also important to utilize tools provided by the original manufacturer, such as Eaton's Circuit Breaker Authentication (CBA) tool, to verify your electrical device's authenticity. Customers can access the tool on Eaton's PowerEdge mobile app and, by scanning information from the product label with the click of a button, detect whether Eaton's molded-case circuit breakers, up to 400 amperes, are counterfeit.

Tom Grace is manager, brand protection, for Eaton's Electrical Sector – Americas. For more information about counterfeit electrical products, visit www.eaton.com/counterfeit.

Posted on May 31, 2016

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