This issue covers:
- Faulty appliances spark hot debate
- Weaker global semiconductor demand
- Review highlights appliance energy failings
- Global efforts to win the war against counterfeit electrical goods
- Upgraded compliance testing in the UK lighting sector
Safety charity, Electrical Safety First, is delighted the Government has acknowledged the importance of its campaign against dangerous electrical items, highlighted recently by national media headlines on the damage caused by white goods such as tumble-dryers and gadgets such as hoverboards.
At a recent Westminster Hall debate in London, MPs discussed not only the flood of fakes entering the UK – particularly through online outlets - but also the issue of substandard items.
Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Nick Bowles MP, agreed that more needs to be done to protect consumers in our digital age and that a review into how Trading Standards can address this issue was being undertaken by his department.
Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, who arranged the Westminster Hall debate and whose constituent, Linda Merron, died in a fire caused by a faulty air purifier bought on eBay, highlighted not only the prevalence and danger of counterfeit goods but also the problem of substandard components in electrical items.
ESF also noted the impact of an increasing complex supply chain in relation to substandard items and called for a tightening of the product recall process. Currently, recalls have only a 10 to 20% success rate, leaving millions of potentially lethal products in people’s homes.
According to ESF, the market for fake goods in the UK has been conservatively estimated at £1.3 billion and the London Fire Brigade estimates that, on average, white goods such as dishwashers and tumble dryers are involved in one fire each day in the capital. Full story at www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk.
According to new figures from IHS, global semiconductor revenues fell by 2 percent in 2015.
Sequential quarterly growth was weak throughout every quarter of 2015, especially in the first quarter when the market declined 8.9 percent over the previous quarter – that represents the deepest sequential quarterly decline since the semiconductor market collapsed in the fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009.
Global revenue in 2015 totalled $347.3 billion, down from $354.3 billion in 2014, according to IHS and this market drop follows solid growth of 8.3 percent in 2014 and 6.4 percent in 2013.
“Weak results last year signal the beginning of what is expected to be a three-year period of declining to stagnant growth for semiconductor revenues,” said Dale Ford, chief analyst at IHS Technology. "Anaemic end-market demand in the major segments of wireless communications, data processing and consumer electronics are expected to hobble semiconductor growth during this time.”
Overall semiconductor revenue growth is expected to record a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just 2.1 percent between 2015 and 2020. Full review here
Nearly one in five fridges, dishwashers, microwaves and other household gadgets use more energy than advertised according to a three-year survey of Europe's home appliance industry.
The Marketwatch study also found digital radios using over twice their stated energy when turned off, dishwashers not washing properly in eco cycle mode, and vacuum cleaners hoovering up 54% more electricity from the plug than advertised.
In all, 18 of the 100 products were non-compliant with EU ecodesign laws, according to the tests by several European efficiency groups, led by the EnergySaving Trust (EST) in the UK.
Dr Fanoula Ziouzia, the EST’s head of products, said: “While this was a targeted sample, we suspect that as many as one in 10 household appliances sold today consume more energy than the manufacturer states. This could be misleading for consumers and result in higher energy bills – and true product cost – than they would anticipate.”
Ecodesign laws are primarily meant to cut carbon emissions by preventing wasteful energy use. The efficiency group Clasp expects a 10% shortfall in energy saving targets for products to translate into an extra 47m tonnes of CO2 equivalent reaching the atmosphere by 2020.
In response to the survey, the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances (Amdea) said “Our members are very committed to this legislation and have spent a great deal of money on ensuring that their products are more energy efficient. They would argue that they have had a lot of success in doing that.”
Two recent news items from different parts of the world highlight the growing problem in combatting trade in counterfeit electrical products.
In Australia, raids by trading officers in New South Wales uncovered thousands of unapproved and counterfeit products, including 10,000 items at one location of “unapproved and potentially dangerous” USB phone chargers.
It is illegal under Australian consumer law to supply goods that do not comply with safety standards. The maximum penalty is $1.1 million for a company and $220,000 for an individual. It is also an offence under the Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act to sell unapproved electrical articles. Individuals caught doing so can be jailed for two years and fined $55,000, while companies can be penalised up to $550,000.
In Canada, according to Ontario Electrical Safety Authority’s electrical safety report, the percentage of product safety investigations into devices with suspected counterfeit labels reached 16 percent in 2012. By 2013, the percentage rose to 38 percent.
It said that these counterfeit electrical products, including circuit breakers, extension cords and surge protectors, are unsafe lookalikes that have the potential to harm both people and property.
The UK Lighting Industry Association (The LIA) has officially opened its new laboratories complex.
The facility will provide the industry with a cutting edge testing and certification service helping grow exports and improve product compliance.
The new purpose built facility in Telford is the largest facility of its type in Europe and houses the latest testing equipment creating a UK wide, national testing asset for the whole lighting industry.
Already employing over 20 staff and technicians, it is envisaged that the laboratory will employ more than 60 highly skilled personnel within the next two years.
Along with the financial investment in the centre and new test technology, the LIA will also be investing in key experts to ensure the industry continues to receive outstanding service, whilst encouraging those new to the industry to grow and develop.
The LIA Laboratories are the UK’s largest independent ISO 17025 test laboratory dedicated to lighting and an ISO 17065 (product certification) National Certification Body. Full details at www.thelia.org.uk/.