Cable assemblies: The real cost of fakes and clones

Cable assemblies: The real cost of fakes and clones

Technology News |
By Jean-Pierre Joosting

LMR is a registered trademark of Times Microwave Systems; it is not a generic term other companies are free to use. Times Microwave designs genuine LMR products to meet stringent specifications, developed by Times’ highly proficient engineering teams and made in state-of-the-art manufacturing plants. Times’ LMR products have been tested and proven in the field for many years. LMR cables offer very low loss and excellent flexibility. Their easy termination, UV and weather resistance contribute a great deal of reliability. In turn, customers have come to trust the quality.

Some companies try to capitalize on Times’ reputation for high quality by illegally appropriating the LMR designation on their products and literature, tricking buyers into unknowingly purchasing substandard products. Clones or counterfeit components are often the culprits when the RF system fails.

Using inferior components can be costly, and system failure can be devastating – especially in mission-critical applications and environments. If a low-smoke, zero-halogen cable fails to meet UL standards for emissions, the cost might be human lives. Noxious smoke and gases from a burning cable can reduce visibility and hamper occupants’ safe evacuation- you may not realize your cables don’t meet the standard until it is too late.

Besides obvious safety concerns, there is a considerable cost to buying clones and fakes. Spending more to repair damage and replace faulty components can far exceed the component price savings. Labor costs for reinstallation alone can add up.

In another example, a leading telecom carrier recently contacted Times Microwave – they had been using our LMR cable assemblies in their laboratory for a year and a half. They tried to save money by sourcing products from a supplier that offered lower prices and promised the same quality performance and specifications. The product purported to be LMR, and the customer never doubted its authenticity. They had no idea they were buying imitations that would not deliver the same quality as they got from legitimate LMR products.

Once installed, the fake LMR assemblies did not perform as expected. Electrical performance was unstable, and there was a lot of noise in communication signals. The customer was unaware these were not genuine LMR cable assemblies. Upon investigation, it turned out the products purchased were not only fake LMR cable assemblies, but they didn’t meet specifications and were fabricated with inferior materials. The cable jacketing material was substandard, braiding was applied at insufficient tension, and adhesives and bonding were faulty.

The customer’s only choice was to replace all the inferior components with genuine LMR products from Times Microwave. Ever since the carrier has been adamant about ensuring all LMR products are genuine, LMR products are only available from Times Microwave and authorized distributors.

This is just one example of what can happen when RF users are sold “a bill of goods” instead of a quality product. LMR assemblies from Times Microwave are specially engineered to meet the performance requirements of the most challenging applications. These highly flexible, non-kinking cable assemblies are also designed for fast, easy connector attachment reducing installation costs.

So how do you protect yourself from making the same mistake?

First, understand there are two types of deception:

  • Fakes – These products are marked and advertised by a particular brand name, such as LMR, but they’re not. Most of these counterfeit products come from China or Korea. We see them regularly, especially in the UK. Dishonest companies are using false advertising appearing on online selling platforms, social media channels to deceive customers.
  • Clones – These products don’t claim to be LMR, but they are almost direct copies of the genuine product. Although this is a global issue, we see more clones than fakes in the US. These companies are supplying clones, but they often do not stand behind their products. They don’t have the technical expertise or broad options to offer the best cable for the right situation.

The best defense against fakes and clones is to work directly with a quality original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and their authorized distributors to be sure to buy genuine, tested and proven products to meet the standards needed for optimal performance. Don’t skimp on materials and assume all products are created equal. The engineering in custom interconnect solutions is indispensable; you need a supplier who understands your application and meets its needs. Look closely at your LMR cable – if it’s authentic, it has the Times Microwave’s name, model numbers, and cage code as shown below.

In the end, you can save a lot of time, money and performance issues by making sure you’re buying the real deal.

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