EC&M’s 2014 Product of the Year Platinum Award Winner demonstrates how sometimes the simplest change can have an enormous impact. By replacing the ubiquitous “handcuff” type closed jaw with a front-loading style, Klein Tools’ Open Jaw Cable Cutter, which hails from the hand tools category, makes it easier than ever for users to fit this type of product into confined spaces such as service panels and subpanels.

“Like many other products that Klein has launched, the development of the Open Jaw Cable Cutter was driven by feedback from our customers,” says Thomas R. Klein, Jr., general manager, heavy infrastructure. “Common complaints regarding the traditional ‘handcuff’ style ratcheting cable cutter design were that it did not grant access in low-clearance applications while also requiring two-handed operation to get the blades around the cable and release the blades again after finishing a cut. In response, Klein started developing a solution for these unmet needs back in 2012.”

Introduced to the market in October 2013, the cable cutter features a high-leverage ratcheting mechanism that allows for single-handed cutting of 11/8-in. communication cable, 600 MCM copper, and 750 MCM aluminum — without burrs or sharp edges, while a spring-release lever facilitates fast, one-handed jaw reset between cuts.

“This unique open jaw design not only enables end-users to position the cutter head around the cable in a one-handed operation, but also allows them to cut cable in low-clearance applications,” says Klein. “This saves end-users time, effort, and, of course, money.”

Designed specifically for use by electricians and overhead and underground line workers, the product underwent approximately six months of end-user testing and feedback to ensure it met or exceeded customers’ expectations. The company incorporated this input into the tool’s final design.

“Customers claim that the Open Jaw Cable Cutter is the ‘best improvement to cable cutters since the ratcheting mechanism,” notes Klein.

Weighing 2 lb and measuring 11.5 in. long, additional product highlights include red plastic-covered handles with hand guards, a jaw made from hardened proprietary steel, and a 1-yr warranty.

“Klein Tools is constantly trying to find innovative ways to facilitate the tradesman,” Klein adds. “We are always looking for ways to make their job easier, faster, and safer. This award validates our efforts.”

 

Gold Award

Panelboard

Schneider Electric’s Square D I-Line combo panelboard is the first runner-up in this year’s Product of the Year competition. The UL 67-listed panelboard, which comes from the Power Distribution Equipment (Load Centers/Panelboards) category, combines ILine and NQ/NF lighting sections in one unit. The Single model is available in 26 in. and 32 in. widths with one NQ or NF lighting section. The Duplex version is available in 32-in. and 44-in. widths, either in two hard-bussed lighting sections or one hard-bussed lighting section with open mounting space for field-installable options. The I-Line power section mounts horizontally and is available in 18-in., 22.5-in., or 31.5-in. configurations.

 

 

Silver Award

Split-Grounding Bushings

This year’s second runner-up is from the Connectors & Fittings (Wire & Cable/Conduit) category. Bridgeport Fittings’ Mighty-Rite split-grounding bushings are hinged and feature an adjustable grounding lug, allowing them to be installed before or after pulling wire. In addition, the bushings are cULus-listed, available in 0.75-in. to 4-in. sizes, and include a heat-stabilized nylon insulator rated for 150°F.

 

An EC&M Tradition

The EC&M Product of the Year competition was established in 2000 to recognize excellence in new product development for the electrical industry. Showcasing inventiveness in product design, as well as improvements in safety and efficiency, the competition’s two-fold judging and voting process determines the most pioneering products of the past year that allow electrical design professionals, installers, and maintenance personnel to perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

Products eligible for this year’s competition were those introduced to the market between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2013. Out of the record-smashing 200 products entered this year, a hand-picked panel of judges ranked each product based on a uniform list of scoring criteria, ultimately selecting 44 category winners for the first phase of the competition. These category winners were then narrowed down to just three through an online poll available to our readers on the EC&M website. By casting their votes, EC&M subscribers determined the platinum, gold, and silver products of the year.

 

Voting Winners

EC&M would like to congratulate the following three readers who each won $100 for voting in this year’s competition:
    • Allen Lowe, systems department coordinator, Dynalectric Co., Dulles, Va.
    • Alex Alonzo, journeyman electrician, AA3, Los Angeles
    • Larry Whitton, supervisor, S&L Electric, Inc., Hailesboro, N.Y.
The EC&M editorial team randomly drew these names from the list of voters who cast their vote in the online poll.