Electrical professionals searched for new products that would help them boost profits and cut down man-hours at the 16th annual Electrical Exposition and Conference in Orlando. The following is a sampling of the time- and money-saving products out on the show floor.
Thomas and Betts, which has been in business for 103 years, manufactures and supplies electrical components and connectors. Nick Cassella, vice president of sales and marketing, said the company's new products help contractors maximize man-hours.
“Contractors have a shortage of qualified electricians and they want to make them as productive as possible,” Cassella said. “If we're going to come out with a new product, it better be a better mousetrap, save labor, save time and be easier to install.”
Thomas and Betts introduced many new products at the show including Battpac, a handheld compression tool with 6 tons of crimping force. The battery-powered tool features a die design to optimize the number of crimps between charges.
The Pumpac II battery-powered hydraulic pump (also see page 1), another new item in Thomas and Betts' Color Keyed connector tool line, is designed to meet a range of crimping needs on the job site.
To save time and money on the assembly line, the company also introduced its new Sure-Ty Automated Fastening System, which automatically applies, tightens and cuts cable ties flush in less than one second.
Fluke Corp. launched the 330 series of clamp meters, which are ergonomically designed for one-handed operation and feature a large, easy-to-read backlit display.
Wavetek Meterman, a separate, wholly owned company of Fluke Corp., San Diego, Calif., launched an electrical line of products designed for the “working man.” Unlike Fluke products, which are premium-priced, rugged and reliable, Meterman products are designed to be value-priced.
“The Fluke product line and Meterman product line fit together perfectly,” LaBrue said. “There's very little overlap.”
The predominant Fluke buyers are often the contractors or managers, who have electricians that work under them that don't need a Fluke meter, LaBrue said.
“It's used as a backup supplementary meter or for someone who uses a meter only occasionally,” he said.
Wavetek Meterman organized focus groups with electricians to find out how they used the meters and what features they were looking for in a new product. They then launched an entire line of seven meters, ranging from a compact pen-sized meter to a professional clamp meter. For an additional cost, the tools are enclosed in a leather holster.
“Electrical contractors can get a significant price break on the meters,” LaBrue said. “It gives you everything you need to go out and be an electrical contractor.”
Current Tools, a new exhibitor at the Electric Show, manufactures tooling, tuggers, cords and wire carts for electricians. Brad Roberts said the company was founded two years ago and now has about 100 distributors nationwide.
Current Tools displayed its newest product in its booth — an 8,000-lb. puller, which will be on the market in the fall.
“Some field testing is being done and it will probably be in the market in eight to 10 weeks,” Roberts said. “At 5,000 pounds, we'll pull at about 10 ft a minute. It's faster and less expensive and has a two-year warranty.”
S-P Products Inc. displayed many new products at the Electric Show, including the “Big O” Box Bracket, which features predrilled holes to save installation time. The company also displayed its QwikDuct Template for duct banks, utility transformers and switchgear stub-ups. Peter Vrame, president, said an electrical contractor used the product, which won the 2000 NECA Showstopper Award, to install 210 ft of 5-in. conduit per man-hour at the Detroit airport.
The company also showcased a prototype for the Quick Adjust Anchor Bolt Template, which will be out on the market in fall 2001. Vrame said the product is an adjustable template to set anchor bolts for lighting poles and adjust them to any setting in either direction.
“It's a brand new invention,” Vrame said. “No one has it.”
AWC, which had its booth in the show's Voice/Data/Video Pavilion, came out with a pre-terminated fusion spliced rack mount for commercial applications.
“The whole idea is that it saves a ton of money for the contractor,” said Robert Henry, director of marketing for AWC. “Contractors love to hear about products that are labor saving. We figure that it's an average time savings of 38%.”
Normal terminations can take from three to five minutes per termination depending on the type of connector and termination. Every minute counts to electrical contractors due to the shortage of man-hours, Henry said.
Because the product can handle up to 144 fibers, it is more suitable for commercial and outside plant applications than for residential.
“It's way too expensive and you would never have it close to that many fibers in a residential situation,” Henry said. “Most homes have one fiber and this one has up to 144. Contractors can use this when you have a big network that requires a number of fiber connections whether it's going to the desk or to the backbone.
Salisbury launched a new line of fall protection, including fall arrest systems, safety harnesses, lanyards and some lightweight body belts. Vladimir Ostrovsky, regional sales manager, said Salisbury began marketing its products to electricians after the OSHA regulations came out six years ago.
“Our major customers are utility linemen,” Ostrovsky said. “That's where we are well known and have been selling since the 1920s. Now we're extending into the electrical market since the OSHA regulations came out in 1995.”
The company also offers grounding equipment, blankets, rubber sleeves, jumpers and leather protectors.
“Every electrician must have protection if they work live,” he said. “The overall response is slow from the electricians, but the market is picking up.”
The Little Giant Ladder System, a multipurpose articulating ladder system, drew a lot of attention from show attendees. Erik Dunne, factory representative, said independent business owners, presidents, vice presidents and sales managers gathered around the booth to watch the demonstrations.
“One ladder is able to articulate to several different positions,” Dunne said. “It is also able to separate to scaffolds, allowing the user to access about $1,000 worth of ladders for the price of one ladder.”
The ladder can handle more than 1,000 pounds and comes in both fiberglass and aluminum.
“It allows people to keep the cost of business down,” he said. “One of the major selling features is instead of ladder racks, people can store them by the side of their trucks.”
Dunne said the ladders have garnered a positive response.
“If people don't buy them right now, afterwards, they'll go home and we'll get contracts for a dozen or so,” Dunne said. “No matter what kind of work you're doing, you need ladders because it's a lot cheaper than getting boom trucks.”