Alexander & Poole (A&P) was founded over 4 decades ago in 1980 and today is the sole distributor for the Southern African region of Anderson Power Products (APP) electrical connectors, renowned to achieve the highest levels of durability, reliability and performance.
While Anderson Power Products has a sound reputation for the manufacture and distribution of highest quality electrical products, locally, there has also been an alarming influx of counterfeit and inferior products supplied by unscrupulous companies, which are replicating APP connectors under the guise of authenticity.
This is posing a serious threat to the local manufacturing and 4 x 4 vehicle sectors – amongst numerous others where these connectors typically are used.
Juanita Fisher-Hill, National Sales Manager for Alexander & Poole and responsible for the sale and distribution of APP products in South Africa, is adamant that end-users and consumers need to be educated regarding what to look for to avoid purchasing counterfeit and inferior parts.
“The greatest offenders are companies from the Far East, which export counterfeit and inferior products – literally by the container load! 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,” she advises.
Alexander & Poole intends 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 Anderson Power Products (APP) range in particular,” Fisher-Hill states.
To this end, she cautions 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,” Fisher-Hill maintains.
“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,” she explains.
She points out that there is however an important ‘authenticity 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 draws 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,” she informs.
“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 adds.
“The end-user has bought these products, hitherto knowing no better, as they had not been educated regarding what to look out for. 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,” she observes.
“Counterfeiters’ websites are promoting these products as OEM plugs, and no-one is questioning the accuracy of this claim!” she adds.
“The impact on the end-user is serious when using an inferior versus a genuine OEM part. In the electrical sector, for example, when charging a battery, 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 says.
So, while the end-user may be purchasing counterfeit products at a reduced price, they are constantly replacing them, not to mention running safety and other related risks. This ultimately ends up costing more than if they had purchased the genuine part in the first place, she points out.
“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.”
Fisher-Hill cites the Anderson DIN product line (heavy duty power connectors) as a good example, which meets and exceeds the 5000-mating cycle required by the DIN 43589-1 standard. It is an expensive exercise to have parts certified and the counterfeiters obviously do not go to that expense.
“The counterfeiters’ agenda and motive is not quality or safety compliance, and neither is it the welfare of your business. It is simply to overtake and flood the market with their inferior products. So, be alert and be aware: when it comes to electrical connectors and related products – if it is too good to be true price-wise, it is because the product is not good at all! Instead, it is counterfeit, inferior, and will ultimately cost you and your business in down-time and lost productivity – not to mention potentially compromising your safety and the safety of those who work for you.
Use our suggested authenticity criteria check-list to ensure that the connector you are buying really is a genuine OEM one – and enjoy the peace of mind of ‘getting connected’ to the power of true product authenticity, safety and reliability,” she concludes.