Earlier this year truck industry leading brands joined forces to educate about the potential harm that non-genuine components pose to the transport industry, these are non-genuine concerns.
A large group of interested parties attended an event in Setia Alam in Malaysia earlier this year to discuss the issues around non-genuine components in the truck industry and to raise awareness around the issues these components can create. The event was also aimed at educating the market about the issue.
Part of each presentation by the supporting brands was an elaboration on how to identify genuine and non-genuine parts. In particular, packaging is a significant component of any product and users may be able to spot an issue just by looking at the packaging. For instance, a product may only be supplied in a brown carton, whereas the original would be in a colourful box with ha logo printed on it. Today, QR codes are another important tool that can help users to identify original parts and components.
Almost always, the packaging is made to look like the original, while showing some obvious differences. For instance, the logo may not be correct, using a different name or letters. Imitating a logo, termed ‘Passing off a mark’ is commonplace in copying and constitutes a trademark infringement as well as posing risks to the buyer.
The original packaging is typically changed at regular intervals. Buyers of spare parts and consumables were urged to familiarise themselves with the look and feel of original packages. If in doubt, as sometimes there could be older versions of the original packaging still in circulation, a call to the supplier will clear up any doubts.
We are all familiar with the idea that if something is too good to be true, then it probably is. The same applies to spare parts and consumables. If a product is offered at half the price the same product would cost from other suppliers, then there may be something wrong. While discounts maybe offered from time to time, there is no way that the distributor and principal would slash prices to levels that seem unbelievable.
An example given during the seminar was that a filter might have been half the price and swapped regularly, and as the filter was of inferior quality, it comes apart when in use, this could lead to replacement costs far exceeding the saving that one could possibly achieve by using inferior parts.
Typically, spare parts and consumables are sold via dealers (seldom direct from the manufacturer, but the same idea put forward applies). Original Equipment Manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure that they have appointed a trustworthy and dedicated dealer. Therefore, they will list all the appointed dealers on their website. If someone is offering a part or consumables, the buyer can easily check on the OEMs website if the dealer is listed. If not, chances are that the dealer is not appointed and is suspicious.
In addition, many of the OEMs issue certificates that the dealer would have to produce upon request. These certificates are usually limited to one or two years. The inability to produce a valid certificate would also indicate something being wrong.
I is recommended that beyond market prices, users also become familiar with he brands they use and their portfolio. If a brand suddenly offers a part that is not aligned with their philosophy (quality level for example) or product portfolio, it might be worth checking if the product is offered by the OEM.
Non-genuine products can be of high quality with no obvious tell-tale signs, they may be hard to identify without taking them apart. Sometimes it may be a good idea to purchase an extra part to understand how it is constructed in order to know what makes an original part.
For instance, an air filter could be bent and if it cracks, it is of lower quality. The number of pleats, the folding of the pleats and how the filter material is connected to the end caps are further indications for genuine products.
Utilising the internet, buyers of parts and consumables can also check online if their purchase is legit. The product labels can now serve as a quality seal, with distinguishing features such as holograms. In addition, QR codes and other identification numbers can be fed into online portals that verify a part to be genuine.
When companies offer multiple years of warranty on their products and promise superior performance, then they do so as their components are manufactured to the highest standards. Gears, piston rings, shafts and rods may look like they are original, but a closer inspection may reveal issues. Non-treated surfaces easily scratch, holes may not be chamfered, and logos may only be printed on the parts.
With the exception of highly complicated assemblies, such as a complete gearbox, not much is safe from imitation.
Modern components and parts may be highly complex as many suppliers have taken the strategic approach to become solutions providers. Those wanting to make a quick buck by copying products would do so by offering simpler, easier to copy products. These components also require trained and qualified staff to sell them to the market, OEMs nowadays work with reputable distributors and dealers, which can typically be identified via the brands’ websites.
As spare parts are crucial to maintaining a high level of uptime, it is important for fleet operators to be knowledgeable about the market. One should get to know the brands, their market prices, the distribution network and the people behind them. When a part is offered at a price that is ‘too good to be true’ and out of sync with the market price, something could well be wrong. Should a vendor offer a branded component that is not typically offered by a brand, alarm bells should ring.