Global hydraulics leader Enerpac says its Australasian service centres are getting an increasing incidence of maintenance and replacement claims for non-genuine lookalike cylinders that are brought to it to fix when they break down or wear out
The problem – which is particularly acute in New Zealand, but also encountered in Australia – often costs the cylinders’ owner double when they lose production time with the defective item, then can’t get it fixed under Enerpac warranty, says Enerpac New Zealand Hydraulic Specialist Neville Stuart.
“We were surprised when the claims started happening because Enerpac cylinders are designed for lowest total cost of ownership, with quality and value built into their engineering. They are engineered not to fail.
“But then we looked closer and realized they weren’t our tools, but lookalike cylinders painted nearly identically to our cylinders.
“All that was different on some was the absence of the Enerpac brand.
“Given that bright yellow Enerpac cylinders have been known and trusted throughout Australasia for more than 50 years, it wasn’t surprising that some people thought they had genuine Enerpac gear.”
One lookalike range catalogue is nearly a mirror image of Enerpac, Stuart adds.
“It uses the same layout and almost indistinguishable product coding from the style used by us, the trusted market leader.”
The lookalike situation has been developing insidiously over the past several years and is now coming to the point of legal action, which Enerpac has commenced, Stuart says.
“People who buy our genuine cylinders trust us because we provide a quality product and back it comprehensively and in the field through a long-established national sales and technical service network.”
No short cuts
“There are no short cuts with us – our tools are subject to world-class manufacturing and traceability standards.
“And we back them up with full warranty, plus training as required, because we are so confident in their quality, performance and reliability.”
Stuart says many look-alikes have problems “under the skin” associated with poorer quality design, engineering and construction.
“They are aimed at the lower end of the market, where we believe operators and businesses dependent on hydraulic tools are inviting safety and downtime risks by using products that don’t offer the same quality, traceability, performance and reliability as the branded alternative.
“Companies buying in this lookalike market – sometimes unwittingly – are opening the door to costly risks when they are short-changed on quality and backup.
“It’s possible that not only entire tools, but even component parts such as valves, seals, hoses and oils can be superficially replicated, and buyers can unknowingly accept these as genuine.
“These anonymous components are less obviously not genuine Enerpac because you can’t see them, but they can come under great stress in hydraulic circuits and pose hidden risks to the safety of operators.
“Our own Enerpac organisation – which is Australasia’s largest supplier of high-pressure tools – has encountered warranty claims on components recently from people who believed it was our product which had let them down – only to discover it was non-genuine material which had failed.”
The costs of failure of tools can be severe, Stuart notes. “If something goes wrong during a 100-tonne lift or pressing operation, for example, the consequences can be immediate and devastating for industries such as building, construction, civil and mechanical engineering, electrical utilities, manufacturing, mining and exploration, metal processing, oil and gas and transport maintenance.”
Ways in which buyers of industrial products and services can protect themselves include:
- nominate the use of only named, quality equipment when they specify and order – dealing with OEM products and authorised distributors with full service backing and the guarantees and traceability that companies such as Enerpac provide
- Build a relationship with a reliable supplier who is prepared to supply the names of established customers in similar industries to the one being quoted. Experience and input from customers – a true knowledge partnership – is fundamental to the design, development, production. supply and service of standard and custom-made hydraulic solutions for safe, precise control of movement and positioning of heavy loads, for example
- if in any doubt, check with major distributors and OEMs such as Enerpac to ensure that the products being quoted are the products that they are represented to be.
- thoroughly familiarise staff with correct safety procedures through on-site training courses run by reputable suppliers.
Enerpac is an international market leader in high-pressure hydraulics, which has been established in Australia and New Zealand as a major supplier of high-pressure (700 bar) hydraulic equipment for 50 years, having nationwide service backup and a strong distribution network.
Enerpac is wholly owned by Actuant Corporation, a diversified industrial company serving customers from operations in more than 30 countries and is headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
Actuant trades on the NYSE under the symbol ATU. For further information on Actuant and its businesses, visit the Company’s website at www.actuant.com