Author Archives: Erica

  • 0

French Gerleman’s New Mobile App: Photo Inquiry


Have you ever needed a product and weren’t sure where to find it? Thanks to French Gerleman’s new mobile app, finding what you need has never been easier.

With the French Gerleman photo inquiry option, you can take a picture, include a quick note and press send.  Our inside sales support team will review your request, quickly source the product for you, or recommend an alternate product we have in stock and confirm pricing and availability. Count on our knowledgeable team of product experts to find you what you need to help keep your business running.

There are even more features to discover on French Gerleman’s new app, and you can try it out for yourself on either iOS or Android. Contact your French Gerleman Account Manager to learn more about how you can use photo inquiry and other features on the app.

  • 0

Switchgear Lifecycle, Technologies & Safety Seminar Recap

Recently we hosted a Switchgear Lifecycle, Technologies & Safety Seminar covering the product life cycle, preventive maintenance, and planning for future capacity. If you couldn’t attend, here are a few highlights from the seminar.

Electrical systems are essential to almost every other system a building has, and maintenance is required to keep them running properly. All equipment eventually reaches the end of its useful life, but well-maintained equipment lasts 35 years on average, as opposed to 17 years for unmaintained equipment.

Electrical equipment was never designed to go without maintenance.  In fact, when it was installed, you should have received an owner’s manual and maintenance guide.  Loose connections or mechanical parts are responsible for more than 30% of electrical losses, and electrical system components are 3x more likely to fail without preventive maintenance. If in doubt of what proper preventive maintenance for electrical systems includes, refer to the NFPA 70B for details to prevent equipment failures and worker injuries.

Below are key recommended preventive maintenance services according to NFPA 70B:

  • Voltage and current measurements
  • Harmonic voltage and current measurements
  • Ultrasonic testing
  • Infrared thermography
  • Visual Inspection

Checking for voltage imbalances, drops and the intended voltage ratings for your equipment can elongate their useful lives. The use of infrared thermography does not interrupt uptime for any of your equipment, but picking up excess heat readings can indicate poor connections or excess load. Qualified, experienced electricians can often visually identify and fix issues on the spot which non-qualified maintenance personnel may not notice.

Visual inspections are incredibly useful in preventive maintenance, although they cannot be solely relied on as the only type of preventive maintenance.  Regular switchgear maintenance should include cleaning, inspecting for physical damage, checking insulation resistance, and reinsulating windings as appropriate. Circuit breakers 225 amps and above should be electrically trip tested to ensure they operate correctly.

An arc flash risk assessment should be included with your regular preventive maintenance. Arc flashes occur when an electrical arc passes through air, phase to ground, or phase to phase, and can cause serious injury and damage. The risk assessment will help you determine if there are any current hazards to address, and estimate further precautions to take against arc flashes by referring to the NFPA 70E.

Finally, an important part of preventive switchgear maintenance is preparation for an electrical system failure. Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) ensure power continuity to maintain process control in the event of a utility power failure. There are many solutions to provide backup of information, power continuity, control panel protection, and surge protection to keep your electrical infrastructure running smoothly.

For more information on the information covered in the Switchgear Lifecycle, Technologies & Safety Seminar, contact your French Gerleman Account Manager.

  • 0

The Responsibilities of Authorized, Competent and Qualified Persons

Like those in any field with its own esoteric language, we in fall protection often take for granted that when we use a term, everyone else knows what we are talking about. For example, if I said, “For that Fall Arrest application, you’ll need an SRL-LE – and make sure the shock-absorber is attached to your dorsal D-ring,” you’d probably understand what I meant. Other terms can get squishier. What is the exact definition of a “prompt” rescue? What is a “regular interval” of inspection? What makes using a fall protection system “infeasible?” What constitutes “supervision” of work?

Clearing the Mud

We turn our attention to three terms found throughout OSHA and ANSI regulations that have caused more than a bit of confusion amongst newcomers: the Authorized, Competent and Qualified Persons. Each of these titles defines a specific role within the world of fall protection, and there has been more than one person (including myself) who has been confused as to where one person’s responsibility ends and another begins.

Let’s start with the term that affects the greatest number of workers – the Authorized Person. OSHA 1926.500 defines the Authorized Person as, “…a person approved or assigned by the employer to perform a specific type of duty or duties or to be at a specific location or locations at the jobsite.” Pretty vague, no? That definition covers just about every person at the jobsite. ANSI tightens the definition by adding that “…the person will be exposed to a fall hazard.” In a nutshell, within the fall protection world, the Authorized Person is anyone who is required by their employer to be exposed to a fall hazard. But don’t think that’s all there is to being an Authorized Person. It’s not like you show up to your first day on the job and your employer asks you to kneel and touches each of your shoulders with a 4’ level and says, “Arise an Authorized Person, and get thee to the roof!”

Before you step foot on the job as an Authorized person, your employer must ensure you are fully aware of, and know how to recognize potential dangers on the jobsite. Not only that, but you also must be trained in the proper use of fall protection equipment, from harness and lanyards, to anchors, guardrails, and ladders, including their proper maintenance and storage. After all, having the title of Authorized Person doesn’t mean much if you don’t have the knowledge to back it up.

Competency Is a Good Thing

Climbing the ladder of responsibility, we next find the Competent Person. The Competent Person’s responsibilities encompass those of the Authorized Person, but with the added duty (assigned to them by the employer) to take corrective measures to eliminate fall hazards, up to and including halting operations until the hazards have been mitigated. As a matter of fact, the latest OSHA 1910 General Industry update added this latter authorization to their definition of Competent Person. This strengthens the role, and brings it into alignment with the established 1926 Construction and ANSI standards – a good thing.

The Competent Person is a walking, talking storehouse of fall protection knowledge, who constantly monitors the jobsite for hazards, and who, in fact, must first survey the jobsite before an Authorized Person comes onsite to create both a fall and rescue plan. And once a job begins, they are the person Authorized Persons should consult when there is a question regarding the suitability or compatibility of fall protection equipment in a particular situation. The Competent Person understands and approaches fall protection from a slightly higher level than the Authorized Person, and their word carries more authority across the jobsite. And if there is an incident, guess who is right in the thick of the questioning? That’s right, the Competent Person.

In addition to situational expertise, the Competent Person is also responsible for regular inspections of fall protection equipment.  It is the duty of every Authorized Person to inspect their gear every day before work, but the Competent Person, with their high-level of knowledge, is considered to have more expertise and therefore is charged with being a sort of gatekeeper in regards to equipment. Think about it this way: An Authorized Person may only deal with a limited variety of Fall Protection equipment – maybe a harness and lanyard, but the Competent Person is responsible for knowing about the full spectrum of gear, and must possess the requisite knowledge to determine whether a particular piece of gear is safe for continued use. Hint: If you would like to do something to make you immediately more knowledgeable and valuable on the job, get yourself to one of our Competent Person classes. Every jobsite needs one, why not you?

Qualifying Qualified

Above the Competent Person is the Qualified Person. When I say “above,” I don’t necessarily mean that the Qualified Person is an Authorized or Competent Person’s superior, or even supervisor, but that their responsibilities take on an even higher degree of technical knowledge, expertise, and in many cases, education. The most comprehensive definition of a Qualified Person is provided by ANSI, and states that a Qualified Person is:

“A person with a recognized degree, certificate, or professional certificate AND with extensive knowledge, training and experience in the fall protection AND rescue field who is capable of designing, analyzing, evaluating and specifying fall protection and rescue systems to the extent required by this standard.”

This means that a Qualified Person knows not only which fall protection system might work in a particular situation, but also show (usually through on-site testing) that the solution meets the performance standards as dictated by ANSI or OSHA.  A common example is the certification of anchorages used in fall protection. OSHA mandates that anchors must be capable of supporting 5,000 lbs., but even if the anchor was installed per manufacturer’s instructions, how do we know it will? That’s where the Qualified Person comes into play.

As mentioned in the post on the updated OSHA 1910 regulations, building owners with rope descent systems must provide to the employer written certification that their anchorages have been tested and meet the strength requirements as set forth by OSHA. Only a person with specific engineering education and experience is capable of performing these tests and certifying the results in any meaningful way. In many instances, Qualified Persons will hold a technical or other engineering-based degree. Since inspecting and testing requires broad-based knowledge about structures, including their integrity and composition, it makes sense that a person who puts their name on the line has a background in physics, material strength and fatigue, and scientific testing methods.

With such specialized responsibilities, it’s quite unlikely that a Qualified Person will ever be on a jobsite full-time, day in and day out.  The nature of their work really puts them in place before work commences, or if after work begins, as conditions change and a new fall protection system needs to be engineered or tested. And keep in mind, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a Qualified Person has been on every jobsite. Many jobsites never have a Qualified Person visit to certify anchor installations. To understand why this may be, you need to know about certified vs. non-certified anchors. But that’s a story in itself, so let’s leave that for another day.

What Does This Have to Do with Us?

There is one other role that also needs to be mentioned alongside our triad of Authorized, Competent, and Qualified persons, and that is the manufacturer – in this case of course, Guardian Fall Protection. What role does the manufacturer play when it comes to the responsibilities of these three jobs? In two words, a lot. Essentially, no one installing, inspecting, testing, or using fall protection could do their job until we do. Our role as a manufacturer is to first think of the needs of the worker, then engineer a product to fit that need.  That sounds like a simple process, but brother, it’s not. Before we release a product to the market, it is tested (and retested…and retested) to make sure it meets all of the safety specifications from OSHA, ANSI, and ourselves. Testing is in large part a process of discovery in that we go into the lab with a certain expectation (usually they are met), but sometimes it’s the unexpected little things that throw us for a loop. Maybe it’s the number or gauge of screws that are used, or maybe it’s the thickness or composition of the substrate that we need to tweak one way or the other. No matter what comes our way though, we adjust our parts and procedures and continue our work.

Once we have a successful product, we generate documentation that spells out precisely how the product (an anchor, let’s say) should be installed for maximum strength and performance. Even the documentation goes through revision after revision to make sure it’s just right – trust me on this…  It is this information that then gets passed on to the subsequent Qualified, Competent, and Authorized persons so that they can install and use properly the very equipment on which lives will rely. But don’t think that once a product is released that that is the last time it ever sees the lab, or its installation instructions are reviewed. Guardian regularly batch tests every product that comes through our warehouse, and we believe wholeheartedly that constant review and revision is the best policy for making sure our products will perform to their maximum potential when they are needed the most.


This blog is reprinted with permission from Guardian Fall Protection.  Originally published April 3, 2017, on The Guardian Fall Team Blog. For more information about fall protection or other personal safety products or issues, please contact your French Gerleman account manager or e-mail

  • 0

Reform Capacitors to Keep Your Spare VFDs Ready for Use

Having spare VFDs on hand can help reduce the amount of downtime when a failure occurs, but these spares require regular maintenance to keep them ready for use.

When VFDs are stored for long periods of time, typically 12+ months, the internal chemistry of the DC bus capacitors begins to deteriorate if power is not applied.  Formed when voltage is applied to the capacitor, its oxide layer acts as an insulator preventing shorts from occurring. In storage, this layer can degrade.

If the VFD is not powered up slowly to recondition the DC bus capacitors and prepare it for operation under full load, it could result in a catastrophic failure and render it useless. To help maintain your spare inventory, French Gerleman now offers a Bonitron M3628PCF Portable Capacitor Former for rent allowing you to reform your VFDs on site.


How often do capacitors need to be reformed?

Most manufacturers recommend an annual power up of all drive modules to insure capacitors are always in an operable state. Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific instructions for your specific VFDs.




Why rent the Bonitron Portable Capacitor Former?

The M3628PCF Portable Capacitor Former can reform capacitors by slowly increasing the DC bus voltage to allow the internal chemistry to readjust at a safe rate. There are digital displays to show the voltage levels and current. The Capacitor Former operates from standard 110-240VAC supply and can also be used as a variable DC power supply for recharging capacitors, or discharging capacitors for maintenance.

Because it comes with wheels and an extendable handle, it is easy to take with you wherever you need it.  It is only 10.5” tall by 18” deep by 22” wide, which makes it convenient to use.

Renting a Bonitron M3628PCF Portable Capacitor Former may be the right solution to make sure your spare VFDs are ready for operation when needed. If you are interested in renting a Bonitron M3628PCF Portable Capacitor Former or have any questions, please contact your French Gerleman Account Manager or Power Control Product Manager.

  • 0

French Gerleman’s New Mobile App: UPC Scanner

Today most manufacturer products include a UPC (barcode). When you’re looking to replace an existing item or replenish inventory, the French Gerleman UPC scanner can help you quickly locate the products you need.

Ordering a product from French Gerleman is easy.  Simply scan the UPC with your phone using the UPC scanner built into our mobile app. If the product is in our inventory of 36,000+ SKUs, the app will bring up the product and you can directly add it to your cart.

Not only can you easily match and order the right product with the UPC scanner, you can also check real-time inventory.

Use the scanner and more features with the French Gerleman app, now available for Android or iOS. To learn more about our app, contact your French Gerleman Account Manager.

  • 0

Nidec-Shimpo Offers OEMs Faster Turnaround on High Precision Servo Gearboxes & Custom Product Assemblies

French Gerleman’s partnership with Nidec-Shimpo offers customers increased access to a wide-range of high-precision servo gearbox products, inventory and custom assembly options. Gearbox options include economy, standard duty and high-performance class, inline and right angle planetary, and right-angle worm products that offer many standard features superior to competitive products.

With the success Nidec-Shimpo has seen over the last few years, expansion was necessary to support ongoing customer requirements.  In July of 2017, they moved to their main North American headquarters to a new 50,000 square foot facility in Glendale Heights, IL.  The new facility offers more than double the space of their previous building.

The new facility satisfies the need for expanded assembly, but also met a number of other needs.  For example, they added a larger testing facility, room for new employees and engineering support, improved on paint booth capabilities, and included a large addition to inventory space.  Currently, Nidec-Shimpo maintains inventory of nearly $4 million and with the proximity of their new headquarters, French Gerleman can offer next day delivery on several common Shimpo models.

The Midwest-based assembly operation benefits our OEM customer base by handling a wide variety of products, and assembling those they do not have available as complete units.  This satisfies small quantity orders, prototypes and helps in emergency/machine down situations.  The expansion has also opened the door to more custom product conversations.  Recently they have seen more requests from customers for custom shafts and adapters, private labeling/colors and food grade coatings.

With Nidec-Shimpo Japan now focused on product development of the robotic technologies they manufacture, this facility offers the extra space and capability for more local design in addition to the assembly resources here for those future products.  Globally Shimpo manufactures more than 70,000 robust, high quality and cost-effective planetary gearboxes per month.

For more information on Nidec- Shimpo products, to review a product sample kit or to discuss the option to tour their new facility, contact your French Gerleman Account Manager.

  • 0

Panduit and General Cable Offer End-to-End Structured Cabling Solutions, Guaranteed Network Performance & System Reliability

For more than 10 years, Panduit and General Cable have offered a comprehensive line of structed cabling solutions for a variety of institutional, commercial and industrial applications.

How businesses manage their network cable and connectivity can have a major impact on overall system performance and business productivity.  Especially if there is an unplanned downtime due to poor network reliability.

Panduit and General Cable’s combined category 6A, 6 and 5e high-performance copper and fiber systems provide a robust and optimized cabling infrastructure that exceeds electrical parameters for today and into the future.  This world-class partnership provides guaranteed network performance and system reliability for the most demanding network requirements.

The Panduit and General Cable (PanGen®) vision is to provide organizations – large and small – the ability to enable essential business applications.  These solutions are developed through advanced research and development, manufacturing excellence and rigorous performance testing.


Four Key PanGen Benefits:

  1. Importance of Structured Cabling – A properly designed and implemented cabling infrastructure is a fundamental strategic asset of every business and institution. Carefully planning a structured cabling solution facilitates the delivery of new services, lower network maintenance costs and increased productivity.


  1. High-Performance Solutions – Category 6A, 6 and 5e high performance copper and fiber systems with network connectivity and cables provide a robust and optimized cabling infrastructure that exceeds all electrical parameters.


  1. World-Class Installation & Technical Support – Quality installation of PanGen solutions is provided through an extensive network of specially trained and certified installers. Meeting stringent qualification requirements, installers receive continuous training on products, standards and installation practices.  PanGen solutions come with prompt, nationwide technical support for customers from the design stage to post-system installation support.


  1. Complete Solution Warranty – All PanGen installations are eligible for the PanGen 25-year warranty*, which offers the following advantages:
    • 100% warranty coverage to repair and replace defective components
    • Compliance with all applicable ANSI, TIA/EIA and ISO standards
    • Backed by an installed channel performance guarantee
    • One point of contact for all inquiries (


Interested in exploring options to enhance your current network infrastructure? If the answer is yes, we can help.

French Gerleman is an authorized distributor of Panduit and General Cable’s full-line of data communication products and services.  For more information about PanGen® structured Cable Solutions visit or contact your French Gerleman Account Manager.  We can schedule a facility walk-through or assessment and help you to determine the appropriate next steps to achieve your data infrastructure goals and objectives.

Content developed in coordination with Panduit and General Cable.

*To be eligible for the PanGen® system warranty, the system must be installed by a Panduit    Certified installer, meet certain requirements, and be registered by Panduit. The PanGen system warranty is subject to various terms, conditions and limitations.

  • 0

French Gerleman’s New Mobile App: My Product Groups

French Gerleman’s new mobile app focuses on providing speed, convenience and mobility. The app has many features that personalize your experience so you can quickly find the product you are seeking.

If you consistently order the same products from French Gerleman, you can group them together to make them easier to locate and reorder in the future. These groups can be completely personalized based on your needs. Want different lists for lighting fixtures, conduit, fittings, cleaners and more? There’s no limit to the number of groups you can create or the number of items you include in each group.

You can set up your product groups either on the website or in the app. If you set up your groups at a desktop, they will show up on your app and you can easily add them to your cart to order, and change quantities based on your needs.

The app is available for both Android and iOS. Use it on your phone or tablet based on what is most convenient for you. For more information about the app, contact your French Gerleman Account Manager.

  • 0

Show Your Workers You Care About Their Safety This Winter

In the Midwest, it’s never too early to start thinking about winter safety. The upcoming drop in temperatures can cause safety issues for your workers and potential damage to your equipment. Making sure workers are properly equipped and educated in safety precautions to take during cold weather can help reduce accidents and keep your jobsite or facility running smoothly.

Watch out for Cold-Induced Health Issues

Extreme cold is known to cause various illnesses, but did you know workers can still suffer from many cold-related illnesses even at above freezing temperatures? Strong winds and damp environments can cause body temperatures to drop to dangerous levels. Learn more about some of the illnesses to guard your workers against this winter.

Put the Coffee Down

Coffee can make you feel warm, but unfortunately it doesn’t actually warm your body. Because the beverage is hot and the caffeine increases the heart rate, coffee just gives an illusion of warmth, which can cause more harm than good. Encourage your workers to stay hydrated with water or an electrolyte drink as the temperatures start to drop.

Suit Up For the Cold

Safety gear is required when working in hazardous environment, and proper winter gear should be required when working in hazardously cold environments. Staying warm and dry makes a huge difference in your workers’ health.

Here are a few of our featured cold weather products:

Heat PacksWinter Liners

Cold Weather Gloves


Limit Exposure to the Cold

Keep your eye on the weather so you can know when the weather starts to get dangerous. When it’s extremely cold, make sure workers can have frequent, short breaks in a warm environment. If possible, schedule work in the warmest part of the day to minimize their exposure outdoors.  You can download a weather app to your smartphone so you have up-to-date forecasts at your fingertips.

Watch Your Step

With winter comes slippery surfaces and an increased potential for trips and falls. Equip your workers with appropriate footwear to keep them upright. French Gerleman has a wide selection of shoes and boots which provide the grip they need, and can keep their feet warm and dry this winter.

Clear off the Snow First

Winter weather can bring a host of new hazards every day, from slippery surfaces to fallen branches. Supervisors should inspect the workplace before work begins to check for any hazards that need to be addressed. Clear snow and ice away before starting the job, and salt large areas of ice as needed. Taking the time to prepare the workplace at the beginning of the day will save you time later.

Don’t Forget Your Vehicles

Vehicles also can suffer damage due to cold, and should be checked to ensure they are working properly before use. Make sure every vehicle is equipped with a winter emergency and first aid kits in case of an accident.

Simple precautions can make all the difference when dealing with cold weather. Remember, our weather can be erratic, so don’t get caught by surprise.  Contact or your French Gerleman Account Manager today to learn more!

  • 0

French Gerleman’s Upcoming Holiday Hours

The holiday season is upon us and French Gerleman will be closed the following dates:


  • Thursday, November 23
  • Friday, November 24


  • Monday, December 25
  • Tuesday, December 26

New Year’s Day

  • Friday, December 29
    • St. Louis – closing at Noon
    • Kansas City – closing at Noon
    • Columbia, MO – closing at Noon
    • Washington, MO – Closed all day
    • Springfield, MO – Closed all day
    • Quincy, IL – closing at Noon
  • Monday, January 1- Closed


When it comes to production lines and facility downtime, we know every minute counts. As a reminder, after-hours emergency services are available around the clock on holidays and weekends and from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. on Monday through Friday.  Access our emergency service team by calling your local branch:

St. Louis:  800-333-3122 or 314-569-3122

Kansas City:  800-707-3122 or 913-894-8844

Columbia, MO:  800-283-3122 or 573-474-4194

Washington, MO:  888-959-9448 or 636-390-4949

Springfield, MO:  855-763-9311 or 417-799-0200

Quincy, IL:  800-234-3122 or 217-223-3122

An automated attendant will answer. Follow the prompts to reach our on-call representative. A service charge may be applied.

We appreciate your business, and wish you a safe and happy holiday season.