Only Connect: On the quality of materials

Welcome to another post in the series by Nick Locke, of Nicab Ltd, who has over 15 years experience in the electronics manufacturing industry specialising in interconnection cable assembly.
Do you ever check what you are paying for is what you are getting? I expect most of you to say ‘Of course I do’.

Well, the reality is that you probably do check that the correct quantity of product has arrived and they are the correct type of product, but how do you know that what you are buying is legal when it comes to copper cable?

A recent programme on the BBC, Fake Britain, showed how thousands of tonnes of copper cable had been found to be illegally marked because the cable was marked as a higher AWG grade than the copper is actually on the reel.

All this is not news to us in the cable assembly business because we have seen this for years. Suppliers in the far-east only putting 6 strands instead of 7, trying to be that little bit cheaper than the competitor.

Another consequence is copper-clad aluminium (CCA) cables. We are seeing a lot of Ethernet cables being offered into the market at substantially lower prices than traditional pure copper conductors. The problem is that although they pass the specific Cat 5e & Cat 6 test their performance is poor especially if you need to rely on them for video streaming and high bandwidth applications.

The main reason for all of this I believe is our fault because we keep expecting the price to go down when commodity prices like copper and oil are going up. At some point something has go to give.  

So, my challenge for today is to go to your stores and just check those reels of copper cable you have and satisfy yourself that you have what you paid for. Most importantly what YOUR CUSTOMERS expect to receive as a finished product from you.

So the next time you go through your QA for goods in, how about just adding a simple copper conductor test? Believe me, it will save you a lot of hassle in the future.

Previous Only Connect entries:

* Only Connect: Apple's new doc connector

* Only Connect: Copyright in manufacturing

* Only Connect: Apple's Thunderbolt Technology

* Only Connect: World Wide Top Cable Manufacturers

* Only Connect: Made in Britain for China (UK Manufacturing #5)

* Only Connect: The greening of electronics manufacturing (Going Green #7)

* Only Connect: On better manufacturing co-operation

* Only Connect - A small quiz on fiber optics

* Only Connect: A guide to fiber optics

* Only Connect: Product Technology - Cat 7 network cabling

* Only Connect: Carbon nanotubes - a new interconnection technology

* Only Connect: Ten things to consider when choosing a coax connector

* Only Connect: How to promote UK Manufacturing #4

* Only Connect: Renewable energy made in the UK (Going Green #5)

* Only Connect: Electronics and natural disasters

* Only Connect: A simple guide to DVI Connectors

* Only Connect: A Thunderbolt of innovation

* Only Connect: The golden principle of good design

* Only Connect: Common fiber connectors - a guide

* Only Connect: Product innovation - mixing signal

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