AN EC&M TRADITION
Now in its seventh year, the EC&M Product of the Year competition was established to honor excellence in new product development for the electrical industry. The prestigious Platinum Award showcases the most innovative product of the past year and recognizes inventive products that allow electrical design professionals, installers, and maintenance personnel to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.
This year's contest pulled in 108 submissions — representing every major product category offered to the electrical design, construction, and maintenance markets. The quality level of this year's diverse selection of products made it difficult for voters to zero in on just a single item, which once again led to a close final vote tally — with just a few votes separating the top three products.
PLATINUM AWARD: WINNER BY A KNOCKOUT
After working as a commercial electrician/foreman for more than 11 years, Brent Galbreth, president of Deviser, Inc., Winchester, Calif., knew there had to be an easier way to mark electrical enclosures for conduit entry. Like many electrical contractors, he found the task of measuring each conduit, transferring the measurements to the enclosure, and getting everything to fit exactly right both arduous and time consuming. But instead of accepting the frustration that routinely accompanies this task as a fact of life, he became obsessed with finding a better way. A few years later, his idea for a product unlike anything the industry had ever seen before, the KO stamp, became a reality.
Drawing upon his experience as an electrician, Galbreth tested the product in the field before launching it commercially. “When I created the KO Stamp, my co-workers at A&R Electric would test the product for me,” he says.
Comprised of a vinyl insert, a vulcanized rubber stamp with center point, and inkpad, the KO Stamp is a marking device that helps installers find the center point of conduits in an electrical enclosure. Priced at $48.65, the KO Stamp starter kit includes 27 stamps (in sizes ranging from ½-inch to 4 inches in diameter to fit all standard conduits) as well as an inkpad. Contractors can also request custom sizes.
According to Galbreth, the tool allows users to eliminate measurements and cut layout time by as much as 98%, compared to the traditional method. “The benefit of the KO stamp fitting inside the conduit is you can adjust the stamps above the tallest conduit in the raceway,” says Galbreth. “As your enclosure makes contact with each stamp, the stamps will slide down the conduit until it makes contact with all the stamps in the raceway.”
Using the KO Stamp involves a straightforward three-step process: Insert the stamps into the conduit, ink the stamps, and place the electrical enclosure on the stamps and apply even pressure. The tool gives electricians the center point, conduit size, and diametric lines passing through center to align the knockout punch score lines for a precise hole. In addition, it is reusable, rugged, and works on underground applications, overhead, and sideways. The ink used to mark the conduit is dye based and takes 10 to 15 minutes to dry, which allows time for electricians to set the enclosure and gives them enough time to wipe the ink off in the event of a mistake. “On average, I could layout an enclosure with 25 to 50 conduits in about 1 to 2 hours the traditional way,” notes Galbreth. “Now, with KO Stamp, I average 2 to 4 minutes for the same layouts. It also eliminates certain conduit layout mistakes made in the field, which could result in scrapping an entire enclosure.”
Although the KO Stamp is not Galbreth's first invention — he actually invented a floating ping pong table years ago — it is definitely his most successful. Still holding down his day job, Galbreth is a true entrepreneur, assembling the kits from home in the evenings. Despite his company's small size, this year's winner is proof that a one-man show with a great idea can make a difference in the industry. In this case, the KO stamp impressed EC&M readers and the expert judging panel alike, knocking out some seriously stiff competition in this year's race for EC&M's coveted “Product of the Year” title. For more information, visit www.deviser-inc.com.
GOLD AWARD: METAL ADJUSTABLE BOX
The first runner-up in this year's Product of the Year competition came from the boxes category and went to Carlon/Lamsom & Sessions for its Metal Adjust-A-Box. This product allows the installer to adjust the box to any wall thickness with the turn of a screw. Clip onto the stud, and then turn the screw to adjust the box in or out to make it flush with the finished wall. Removable and gangable, the box can be upgraded for multi-gang applications.
The second runner-up in this year's competition was Fluke's 117 Digital Multimeter in the portable test & measurement equipment category. This device includes integrated VoltAlert non-contact voltage detection, which quickly senses the presence of AC voltage and provides a visual indicator to determine proper grounding. The device also features Auto-V automatic AC-DC voltage detection and a low-impedance input function, which helps prevent false readings due to ghost voltage.
EC&M would like to congratulate the following five readers who each won $100 for voting in this year's competition.
- Shyam Govil, senior engineer, Bechtel Savannah River, Inc., Aiken, S.C.
- Mark McCuller, electronic engineer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif.
- Daniel Mann, electrical engineering consultant, Service and Technology Corp., Bartlesville, Okla.
- Jerry Podleski, electrician, General Motors, Lansing, Mich.
- Prem Mattappally, electrical engineer, Fermi National Acceslerator Laboratory, Batavia, Ill.
The EC&M editorial team randomly selected these names from the list of voters who cast their vote via our online Web poll.