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“If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
These words of wisdom apply to use of counterfeit parts in forklifts, other vehicles and materials handling equipment. When you use non-Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts or legitimately re-engineered aftermarket components as replacement parts, you are taking a huge risk that could affect worker safety, productivity and profits.
Yet counterfeit parts are a growing problem worldwide, according to Jane Clark, vice president of member services for National Lease, a truck leasing organization.
“In India, it’s estimated that up to 20% of all road accidents are due to counterfeit parts,” Clark wrote in a recent blog. “In Saudi Arabia, the estimate is that 50% of all traffic deaths are due to these fake parts.”
Recipe for Disaster
When it comes to forklifts, it’s doubly important that OEM or legitimately authorized replacement parts be used because of the potential for disaster, according to Bill Elliott, engineered systems manager for CMH Services, a South Carolina forklift dealership.
“Not following a safe practices and procedures when using automated material handling equipment can result in injury,” Elliott told Material Handling & Logistics. “Maintenance lockout procedures and practices must be strictly followed. Operator training in safe work methods is necessary. The correct and safe work method may not be intuitive or obvious.”
Bad Deal in the Long Run
While counterfeit replacement parts are often offered at substantially lower prices than the factory authorized parts, the potential costs of vehicle failure or accelerated breakdown make it a bad deal overall.
When sourcing replacement or aftermarket materials handling parts and equipment, you can use these tips to help prevent accidentally (or intentionally) buying counterfeit parts:
Price — If prices seem to be relatively the same from different providers and you suddenly find the item at a substantially lower price, it could be an indication that it’s not what it claims to be.
Suppliers — Always stick with full service aftermarket suppliers you trust and who will stand behind their products. With new vendors, look for those who offer name brand parts.
Quality — Before you spend money on an expensive replacement part, conduct a through inspection or don’t be shy to question the vendor, especially if you suspect it may be a fake. Does it feel like it’s too heavy or too light? Is the color slightly off? Does the logo look legitimate or is it slightly off? Where was the product manufactured? Look at the part’s serial number or RMA codes. If you still aren’t sure, contact the manufacturer directly.
Installation Problems — Sometimes you won’t know you’ve bought a phony part until you bring it back to the shop and try to install it, only to find it doesn’t fit the way it should. If this is the case, contact the vendor immediately and demand a refund.
You should also call the manufacturer to let them know somebody is selling counterfeit versions of their parts. This could prevent other companies from getting ripped off in the future, and get phony parts off the market so future accidents and potential injuries can be avoided.