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2015 EC&M Product of the Year Platinum Award Winner Announced

Aug. 18, 2015
Modification to a standard cable-cutting tool leads to jaw-dropping success.

One Tool, Many Uses

EC&M’s 2015 Product of the Year Platinum Award Winner helps prove the old adage that two sometimes really are better than one. Combining long-nose pliers and a wire stripper, Klein Tools All-Purpose Pliers, which took home the Hand Tools category winner award, are designed to cut, strip, and loop 8-16 AWG solid and 10-18 AWG stranded wire as well as offer 6-32 and 8-32 screw shearing capability — saving users precious toolbox space and time.

“Over the last few years, we’ve really put an emphasis on creating multi-functioning tools,” says Klein Tools Product Manager David Klein. “Tradesmen have been telling us that they want to carry fewer tools in their pouch or on their belt, and save time by being able to do more with individual tools. We’ve been making multi-functioning screwdrivers for a long time now and recently decided to stretch that line of thought to pliers and wire strippers.”

Introduced to market in March 2014, the company began product development by first performing research with professional electricians to make sure the tool included the features that are relevant to the work electricians are doing, not merely adding a slew of features that aren’t valuable to the user.

According to Klein, “There are always challenges when developing a tool that requires such precision, but we have invested in new, high-tech machinery and have an excellent manufacturing team filled with a highly experienced staff.”
Product highlights include a long nose for grabbing and looping wire, induction-hardened cutting knives, and a hot-riveted joint to ensure smooth action and no handle wobble. In addition, the product, which weighs 0.61 lb and measures 83/8 in. long, is spring-loaded to self-open after each cut or strip. It also features the company’s dual-material Journeyman handles for an enhanced grip.

“The tool’s forged steel design, combined with our unique heat-treating process and American manufacturing, helps set us apart from the competition,” adds Klein.

Klein Tools All-Purpose Pliers retail for approximately $42 and are available from various retailers throughout the United States and Canada.

“The response for this product has been greater than we ever expected,” notes Klein. “In fact, we had to buy new manufacturing equipment for our facility in Mansfield, Texas, just to keep up with demand for this one product.”

Gold Award

AFCI Switch

The first runner-up in this year’s Product of the Year competition is from the Wiring Devices category. Leviton’s SmartlockPro outlet branch circuit device features a combination AFCI/switch designed to protect against electrical fires from arc faults while providing a single-pole switch for controlling lights. The device may be used on new circuits or for modifications to existing circuits where a switch is the first outlet on a branch circuit. Featuring TEST and RESET buttons similar to those found on a traditional GFCI receptacle, the product meets or exceeds UL requirements for tripping time on both series and parallel arcs.

Silver Award

LED Driver

This year’s second runner-up is from the Ballast & Drivers category. Designed to replace two 60W LED drivers, Keystone Technologies’ 120W dual-channel, 12V model is 1.7-in. wide, allowing it to fit into the raceway of most sign cabinets. Despite its power output, the driver retains a Class 2 rating. Additionally, it offers an input voltage of 120VAC to 277VAC (±10%).

An EC&M Tradition

Established in 2000, the EC&M Product of the Year competition recognizes excellence in new product development for the electrical industry. Honoring inventiveness in product design, as well as improvements in safety and efficiency, the competition’s two-fold judging and voting process determines the most ground-breaking 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, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2014. A hand-picked panel of judges ranked the 199 products entered into this year’s contest based on a uniform list of scoring criteria, ultimately selecting 42 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:
    • R. Diamond, a maintenance electrician in Livonia, Mich.
    • Aron Bazen, an engineer with Bazen Electric in Grand Rapids, Mich.
    • Eric Mueller, the owner of Crystal Clear Engineering in Traverse City, Mich.
The EC&M editorial team randomly drew these names from the list of qualified voters who cast their vote in the online poll.

About the Author

Stefanie Kure | Content Producer - EC&M

Stefanie Kure is the senior associate editor of EC&M magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kansas and has more than 20 years of experience in the B2B magazine industry. In addition to EC&M, Stefanie has worked on Transmission & Distribution World magazine, Broadcast Engineering magazine, and Power Electronics Technology magazine.

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