Choose the original
07 March 2008
There is evidence to suggest that the use of ‘pirate' spare parts is on the rise in the construction equipment industry. This is of course a concern for CECE and its members because it represents a direct loss of revenue.
However, CECE is concerned that equipment owners are creating problems for themselves by using ‘cheap' non-original parts that result in expensive equipment failures. The price of these components might be low, but this is a false economy.
These issues are being highlighted by a new campaign – ‘Choose the Original Choose Success', which was developed by the German CECE member VDMA, and which is now being rolled-out across Europe. Leaflets, posters, information and other campaign materials are available on the CECE website, www.cece-eu.org.
Original parts have many features that make them a superior choice to ‘pirated' copies. Fake parts may be cheaper, but they are cheaper for a reason!
First, original parts are produced to high quality standards, and using them helps prevent breakdowns and costly machine downtime. A fake part may look the same and have the same dimensions, but physical geometry is only part of the story.
Original parts are produced to high tolerances and are made from specific, carefully chosen material. They are also subject to a range of manufacturing processes – heat treatment for example – that increase their durability. Such processes and materials are not duplicated by the pirates, which is why such parts are cheaper, but also inferior.
Another important point is that using of fake parts will invalidate a construction machine's warranty. If a machine subsequently breaks down, there is no obligation for the supplier to help solve the problem. On the other hand, when genuine parts are used – even if there is a problem – the machine owner has the piece of mind of the warranty and can call on the manufacturer and dealer for service and support.
This all comes down to the issue of efficiency, and it is clear that the most efficient way to operate construction equipment is to use genuine spare parts. Non-original spares result in breakdowns, machine down time, inefficiency and high costs in the long run.
Besides the issue of efficiency, there is safety to consider. Construction equipment is often physically large and heavy, and therefore posses a risk if not operated and maintained correctly. Even ‘compact' machines can be dangerous.
It is no exaggeration to say the use of fake spare parts costs lives, particularly if parts fulfil a structural function. There have been examples in the lifting industry where the use of counterfeit lattice sections has led to cranes collapsing on construction sites, killing and injuring machine operators and other workers.
Construction companies have a duty of care to put the safety of workers first, and as far as equipment is concerned the use of genuine spare parts is a ‘no-brainer'.
Copying parts is of course an infringement of legitimate manufacturers' intellectual property rights (IPR), and CECE is seeing an ever-increasing number of violations. According to a survey conducted among European small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by the European Commission last year, 83% of respondents found IPR abuse to be a significant concern and 23% considered that their business was effected significantly.
The impact of this is considerable. Just over 20% of companies said IPR abuses resulted in a loss of sales of -10% or more.
According to an OECD study, the international trade in counterfeit and pirated items amounts to about US$ 176 billion (€ 120 billion) per year. This represents about 2% of international world trade in terms.
The majority of counterfeit products come from Asia, with 56% of respondents in the Commission's SME survey saying China was the main source of counterfeits. However, product piracy is a global problem. Copies are sold worldwide, though a high number of them remain in Asia.