‘Fluctuating power is a fact of life in Australia’: F&P comments on Bosch recall

By Claire Reilly

Yesterday news emerged that BSH Home Appliances was recalling roughly 63,000 dishwashers manufactured between 2000 and 2006 due to the affected models’ potential to “develop cracks in the printed circuit board within the control module”.

In explaining the recall, the company stated, “It also appears that unpredictable fluctuations in the Australian domestic power supply [was] a contributing factor”.

However, the technical compliance manager for Fisher & Paykel, Terry Fogarty, a man who has dealt with his own company’s recalls over the years, has spoken to Current.com.au, saying that it is simplistic to blame issues with local power supply for any recall.

“Obviously I wouldn’t comment on Bosch’s misfortune – the expression ‘There but for the grace of God go I,” he said. “But from just the technical point of view, yes the voltage in Australia does vary, those are the conditions. You know what they are. You mightn’t like them but they’re the cards you’re dealt with.

“I don’t like recalls, but I then thought, ‘Would I have tried to have blamed the supply voltage?’ The trouble is when you do that is that you sort of look like you’re trying to blame someone else.”

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As the technical and engineering mind behind Fisher & Paykel’s appliances, Fogarty outlined the differences between the ways power is supplied in Australia and the power supply in Europe.

“In rural areas [in Australia], you might have farms a kilometre apart. If you’ve got power coming along at the first farm, you might end up at 250 volts, the second farm it might be 245, the next one is 240 and you go down to the one at the end, and the one at the end knows that when everyone else turns their things on, that their lights go dull.

“The one at the start has got high voltage and the one at the end has got low voltage. It brings its own problems.

“Bosch comes from a European background where the voltages are more stable and they don’t have the long distances. They have a lot more users per kilometre of cable, so it’s part of just the geography and the distribution.”

However, Fogarty also reiterated that it was important for retailers and consumers not to alarmed when a recall occurred, as it was often a precaution to ensure the brand was producing only the best products. And in the case of supplying products to Australia, dealing with variations in power supply comes with the territory.

“We know the voltage requirements in Australia and you design your electronics accordingly. Does it cost a little bit extra? Yes it does. We do have the variations, we know that and we design our products for that – if you want to sell products in Australia they are the conditions.”

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