TORONTO, Ont. — Maintenance managers must take a strong stand against sub-standard and counterfeit off shore parts, Transportation Media editorial director Lou Smyrlis urged in addressing the 46th annual Canadian Fleet Maintenance Seminar tonight.
The trickle of cheap offshore knock-offs that started about 10 years ago is becoming a torrent, Smyrlis said, adding that it’s estimated that the big three North American truck lighting manufacturers have lost more than 15% of their business to offshore knock-offs in the last few years. Research conducted by Transportation Media last year also found that almost 30% of fleets are now purchasing cheap offshore tires made by manufacturers in China and India.
“For fleets running on razor thin profit margins, it is hard not to be enticed by these products when they offer 20% or 30% or 40% savings off the regular purchase price for aftermarket parts. Your company executives may be pushing you to spec such products. Don’t give in. Don’t allow sub standard products in your fleet,” Smyrlis said. “Take the time to show leadership and educate your executives on the true long-term costs of cheap offshore knock-offs. You need to remind them that while their profit margins may be razor thin, so is their margin for error.”
Smyrlis said from the experts he’s spoken to, these knock-off products may look the same – right down to having the same bubble pack and printing on the box, but they don’t perform the same. Some imported LED lamps for example tested at 50% lower than the minimum intensity. Some have actually been tested at 90% below the minimum requirements.
“We’ve heard of knock-off brake valves that look so identical to the established brands that even your own engineers may have trouble visually distinguishing the difference between the knock-off part and their own,” Smyrlis said. “Yet, a detailed inspection finds wall castings so thin that a rupture could occur in the side of the valve causing the brakes to come on at speed and O-rings made out of lower-quality material that wears out quickly because it can’t handle temperature extremes.”
He added that Transportation Media’s own research found that the majority of fleets using offshore tires are not bothering to retread them, calling that wrong from both an economic and environmental standpoint.
Smyrlis was the banquet speaker at the event, which also included an emotional farewell to the long-time leader and organizer of the popular seminar, Rod Henderson, who is retiring after 26 straight years of involvement.
“The CFMS is an institution in our industry and its organizers deserve a great deal of credit. You have built something unique here, something to be proud of, something that deserves the industry’s support,” Smyrlis said in pledging Transportation Media’s continuing support.
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