Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

May 14, 2020

Gurvinder ChopraBy Gurvinder Chopra

This June, Canadians will commemorate Electrical Safety Month; June also marks the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic national lockdown. For many Canadians, working from home has become the new normal. As confinement continues, the demand for constant power feed to connect to the world we now live, work, and play in at home has grown substantially. Homes are being equipped with new technologies that offer plenty of benefits, but they also place high demand on electrical systems at home, potentially causing serious safety risks. Are today’s homes equipped with devices that keep us safe from electrical hazards? What electrical safety measures should be re-evaluated?

Protecting homes from electrical hazards can include a variety of common knowledge solutions. However, is the average homeowner aware of arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) technology to prevent arc-faults that can cause serious electrical fires in homes? The importance of modernizing their electrical systems to support the power that runs throughout their home will serve as a good reminder this June.

Advancing technology for home safety

Electro-Federation Canada’s (EFC’s) manufacturer and distributor members play an important role in developing and distributing electrical safety products that protect Canadians from unforeseen electrical hazards. Proven technologies such as arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) provide heightened protection by detecting a potentially-hazardous arc-fault and quickly cutting off power before a fire starts.

The increased demand that modernized technology places on today’s electrical systems makes arc-fault protection in homes an essential part of a modernized infrastructure. In fact, the Canadian Electrical Code requires all new home builds to be AFCI code-compliant; arc-fault circuit protection must be installed for 125Vac, 15A and 20A circuits supplying receptacles throughout the home (with a few exceptions). This extends beyond branch circuit wiring by safeguarding all cords that are plugged into the receptacles. AFCIs are designed to protect against both high current (parallel) and low current (series) arcing.

Although, the Code does not mandate existing homes to have arc-fault protection, except when adding a new branch circuit or receptacle(s) to an existing branch circuit. This causes a concern for the safety of Canadians. Arc-faults are known to be a significant cause for electrical fires in homes. In Ontario alone, an estimated 1,500 fires caused by electrical loss[1] were reported over the past five years, resulting in an average of six fatalities per year.[2] The electrical failures or malfunctions are largely attributed to the misuse of devices, wiring, outlets, etc., or to the use of uncertified, refurbished and/or counterfeit products.

With the availability of certified electrical safety devices on the market, ESA notes that there been a steady decline in the number of electrical-caused fires (rate decrease of 12% over the past 10 years in Ontario).[3] This positive downward trend is largely attributed to greater fire safety awareness and response, better construction materials, and new fire prevention technologies like AFCIs.

Industry action is vital

To support this effort, EFC’s Distribution Equipment and Wiring Supplies members formed a task group in August 2018, which led to the development of an online portal with resources and information about AFCI technology: https://www.electrofed.com/products/afci/. This portal provides prevention measures, a tripping report form, and the electrical risks involved if action is not taken.

Next month, Electro-Federation Canada (EFC) is launching a series of campaigns to remind homeowners about the importance of modernizing their electrical systems. Protecting homeowners is a collective effort. The entire electrical community, including manufacturers, distributors, contractors and regulators, must join forces to ensure consumers are aware and protected from possible electrical risks.

As Canadians continue to stay at home and update their homes with the latest smart devices, appliances, and electronics, they must also be reminded to modernize the electrical system that feeds power to various applications. Distributors are encouraged to communicate the use of AFCI technology with their electrical contractors to bring awareness to consumers about the significance of this technology and the range of arc-fault protection available to them.

Gurvinder Chopra is VP, Standards & Regulations for Electro-Federation Canada.

Notes
1. Electrical loss refers to incidences involving some type of electrical failure or malfunction as a factor contributing to ignition.
2. https://www.esasafe.com/assets/files/esasafe/pdf/Safety_Reports/ESA_OESR_2017_Final.pdf
3. Ibid.

CEW market research 400By John Kerr

The past nine weeks have been to say the least a challenge across the electrical industry. From agents to suppliers, from end users to the electrical channel, all have been affected, all have been forced to think differently and all have begun the journey to retooling the way we operate.

This is the third report in our series quantifying and exploring how electrical wholesalers have had to adapt and how they are looking to find a way forward. For this we have taken a different approach from our previous reports in that we have incorporated the results from our recent survey alongside personal interviews and discussions with electrical distributor teams across Canada

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arkest Before the Dawn, Part 2

CEW 9 JK Figure 1 700By John Kerr

I spoke in my previous article about my father’s quote darkest before the dawn. Well, he had another saying clearly brought forward by his growing up in the depression. He would say, “Money is not everything. It just helps,” and at a time like this when there are so many storylines of effort above and beyond the call, and so many initiatives underway by electrical distributors, there will be a rallying right across the country. The electrical distributors are moving, reacting, and more adaptable than ever before. 

The current situation we find ourselves in is to say the least fluid, dynamic and somewhat disconcerting for many, but underlying it is a focused, disciplined approach to addressing the new norm and new reality. Some branches remain closed, some open with minimal staff, and others rotating staff and working differently than ever before.

Recent public reports by Wesco and Rexel have indicated drops approaching 23% through mid April and clearly ones that demonstrated a slowdown from mid March. Our discussions with both distributors and end users/contractors alike confirm their buying and purchasing activity were curtailed more aggressively in early April.

Over 106 electrical distributors responded to our recent survey with 73% from corporate and branch management. 

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Gurvinder ChopraBy Gurvinder Chopra

This June, Canadians will commemorate Electrical Safety Month; June also marks the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic national lockdown. For many Canadians, working from home has become the new normal. As confinement continues, the demand for constant power feed to connect to the world we now live, work, and play in at home has grown substantially. Homes are being equipped with new technologies that offer plenty of benefits, but they also place high demand on electrical systems at home, potentially causing serious safety risks. 

Read More

David GordonBy David Gordon

In talking with distributors and manufacturers it is clear that many are actively in the planning and pivoting mode, moving from survivability to thriveability. They’ve stabilized their business financially, emotionally (from a staff viewpoint) and operationally. Now they are looking at “doing business,” and more financially secure ones are identifying ways to take share.

This doesn’t mean that others are not planning and pivoting. Some didn’t miss a beat; others typically don’t do much planning and live in the moment. 

Read More

Building Permits - MarchThe total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities decreased 13.2% to $7.4 billion in March, with declines reported in seven provinces and two territories. The $1.1 billion national decrease was the largest since August 2014. This reflected notable drops in Ontario (-12.9%), Quebec (-18.1%) and British Columbia (-19.4%), which coincided with efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 Value of residential permits down

The total value of residential permits decreased 13.1% to $4.6 billion in March.

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Changing Scene

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EIN evolve 400As we continue to respond to the changing status with the COVID-19 outbreak, EFC is taking preventative measures to protect conference delegates from any further risks associated with this virus. After much consideration and consultation, the EFC Board has decided to cancel EFC’s Industry Conference in Banff which was rescheduled from late May to September 1 - 3, 2020. This decision was difficult but necessary for the safety of our members, employees, and the community.

One of EFC's key mandates, is to deliver a premier national thought-leadership conference for industry members, partners, and affiliates. 

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Sonepar's Gaurav SharmaA new video featuring Sonepar’s Vice President of eCommerce and Digitalization, Gaurav Sharma, answers COVID-19 related questions regarding Sonepar Canada’s digital solutions, his team, and the future of eCommerce in the electrical wholesale industry.

Among new solutions introduced by Sonepar: customers can now create an online account through a simple text message. Traffic on Sonepar’s website has tripled since the pandemic began, and the number of new accounts has doubled. Many Sonepar locations also feature curbside pick-up.

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Schneider ElectricThe Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Hugo Lafontaine, Vice-President Digital Energy at Schneider Electric Canada. CABA is an international nonprofit industry association that provides information, education and networking to help promote advanced technologies for the automation of homes and buildings.

“We are delighted to welcome Hugo Lafontaine to CABA's Board,” said Ron Zimmer, CABA President & CEO “He brings a stellar background in building systems integration and the building automation market, and a wealth of insight into the digital platforms and solutions that will define smart-building innovations now and into the future.”

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Harold HayesHarold Hayes, a stalwart of the electrical industry, passed away peacefully in Scarborough, Ontario at the age of 90 on May 9, 2020.

Harold joined the industry as an apprentice at age 18, working first for his father’s business, Power Cable Installations, and then for Comstock. Among his later accomplishments, he formed Federal Pioneer Electric’s electric heating division, served as president of the Ontario Electric League in 1985, and while in his 80s consulted for Intellimeter Canada Inc.

 

 

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Sarah SilversteinBlake Marchand

Sarah Silverstein is a principal with Liteline along side her two brothers Mark and Daniel. Together, they lead the company founded by their father, Steve Silverstein, who retired in 2018.

Although she initially pursued a career in outdoor education, Sarah was instrumental in the company’s expansion into architectural lighting and the U.S. market. She joined Liteline as a project manager in between stints working in outdoor education. Now she leads Liteline’s U.S. distribution arm and marketing department.

 

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