ALEXANDER & Poole (A&P), the sole distributor for the Southern African region of Anderson Power Products (APP) electrical connectors, has reported an “alarming” influx of counterfeit and inferior APP products.
A&P National Sales Manager Juanita Fisher-Hill warned that this was posing a serious threat to the local manufacturing and 4 x 4 vehicle sectors – amongst numerous others where these connectors typically are used.
“The greatest offenders are companies from the Far East, which export counterfeit and inferior products – literally by the container load,” she said. “Unless one knew what to look for, one would be convinced that these products were original. They are manufactured to appear indistinguishable from the genuine OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) products.”
Fisher-Hill said her company intended playing a pivotal role in counteracting this disturbing practice and trend, via product education of the end-user. “We are currently focused on a concerted sales and marketing drive, to re-ignite and drive awareness around the need for genuine OEM parts, and our APP range in particular.”
She urged prospective buyers to inspect products more closely, to ensure that they know exactly what they are buying.
“This will have the added benefit of ensuring that the local manufacturing, 4 x 4 vehicle, greater automotive and other vertical industry sectors using electrical connectors and allied products start using genuine OEM parts again. This will boost the entire sector from a quality, safety and productivity perspective, as these products are the mainstay of many mission-critical and essential operational systems.
“Unfortunately, the drawcard of counterfeit parts is that they are cheaper than the original OEM parts and, until a malfunction occurs, the end-user is none the wiser.”
However, Fisher-Hill said, there is a checklist of specific tell-tale signs which can alert buyers as to the authenticity of the part.
“The APP range is produced with the strictest adherence to international industry quality and safety compliance standards. Therefore, inferior materials are the first cause for concern. For example, typically used within the 4 x 4 vehicle manufacturing industry and a key product in the APP range, the SB series connectors clearly demonstrate the difference between the OEM parts and the vastly inferior, counterfeit version.”
Further to this point, Fisher-Hill drew attention to the (apparently) silver lugs. “With an APP connector, these components should be made from silver-coated copper. In the cloned or counterfeit parts however, they comprise nothing other than inferior tin that – when subjected to heat – will simply melt.
“Also, the connector plastic is made from recycled, thinner material and – needless to say – nothing has a warranty or a guarantee of any kind. There are also no other inherent safety features either.”
She said the problem is exacerbated by the fact that these sub-standard products are easily available online – so until they are physically in the end-user’s hands, the customer has no opportunity to inspect them at close quarters.
“Counterfeiters’ websites are promoting these products as OEM plugs, and no-one is questioning the accuracy of this claim. The impact on the end-user is serious when using an inferior versus a genuine OEM part.”
She cited the example of battery charging where there must be a constant flow of current or else the voltage drops. “When that happens, that battery is damaged beyond repair. The potential for disaster is immense when this type of malfunction occurs, whereas an APP product comes with all the correct quality and safety compliance of an industry leader and with a lifetime guarantee.”
Fisher-Hill said while end-user may be purchasing counterfeit products at a reduced price, they are constantly replacing them while running safety and other related risks. This ultimately ends up costing more than if they had purchased the genuine part in the first place.
“What is of particular concern to us is that these counterfeit parts have no certification whatsoever. They have not passed any form of standards compliance or quality assessment. Anderson Power Products parts, on the other hand, undergo advanced quality and safety testing and have been appropriately certified.”