The Specialist Buyers Guide for the Power Generation and Distribution Industry
We live in a world where it has never been easier to search for, find and purchase items on line. However, along with the benefits which on-line purchasing brings can come some hidden dangers, including the risk of inadvertently purchasing counterfeit products.
Whilst these items may on the face of it look the same, it is highly likely that they have been manufactured from inferior materials and to a much lower standard of quality. These counterfeit items are becoming increasingly present in all areas of our life, from mobile phone chargers right up to and including safety critical engineered components.
In this article, Reich Drive Systems UK’s David Proud highlights the potential dangers associated with the use of parts that are not guaranteed to be OEM original components.
We have probably all seen the news items and documentaries highlighting the problems associated with counterfeit or fake goods. The increasing significance of this problem can be measured in part by a guidance warning issued by the UK government in 2018 of the dangers that the growing number of fake automotive parts, including airbags, can pose to drivers, passengers and road users.
It is now clear that counterfeit parts are being found not only in consumer related products but in an increasingly wide range of highly engineered components, even certain safety critical aircraft parts have been identified as fake in recent times.
At first glance, many of these parts will look just like the real thing, with close attention being paid to the branding and packaging, however this illusion is only skin deep. A closer look by a trained eye will usually spot subtle differences in appearance which may start to raise concerns, but in the majority of cases these fake parts will be taken at face value and assumed to be authentic. This is where the shortcomings of these parts begin to emerge.
Drive couplings by their very nature vary greatly in their design and capabilities, so for any given application engineers must ensure that they specify the drive coupling correctly to ensure reliable efficient, and in the more challenging applications, safe operation. This in itself requires detailed consideration on the part of the engineer or designer, however if a counterfeit part is then inadvertently sourced, all of this time and effort is wasted, perhaps with serious consequences.
Manufacturers such as Reich Kupplungen have spent decades designing and refining their product range to ensure the highest levels of performance and reliability, and this inevitably involves ongoing and extensive research into material specification, manufacturing processes, heat treatment and elastomer compounds. In addition there will have been extensive testing on all products throughout their development, itself a time consuming and costly process.
Those manufacturing counterfeit products will at best reverse engineer the part dimensionally to make it look the same and so that it will fit when installed, but little if any consideration will be given to the materials being used, tolerances, torsional calculations or testing. In addition, the detail behind the make up or recipe for the OEM produced elastomers is always valuable intellectual property that the counterfeit product manufacturers will never be able to replicate.
Once these fake parts become part of the drive train, the only certainty is that they are likely to fail prematurely, however the failure method could be for any number of reasons, as the part has not been designed to be fit for purpose. When in use, there is little chance that the standard protection that an original drive coupling provides to the drive train will be replicated by the counterfeit part. This could result, not only in catastrophic failure of the coupling, but subsequent damage to other elements in the drive train, which may even have safety implications.
Additional concerns associated with the use of counterfeit parts include the fact that there will be no service support or warranty provided, and if damage occurs to other elements of the drive train, any warranties on those items may become void as a result of the use of a fake OEM part.
Whilst no one would actually seek out a counterfeit part, it is essential that care is taken to ensure that new or replacement parts are original equipment, and the best way to do this is to deal directly with the manufacturer or their authorised representative. Not only will you have the reassurance that the part is genuine, you will have access to decades of expertise to assist in coupling selection along with the guarantee that the part will meet or exceed the application requirements.
With a history spanning over 70 years, Reich Kupplungen has built up unrivalled expertise in the design and manufacture of drive couplings for use across a wide range of industries and applications. The company also embraces a D2C (design to customer) principle, which allows the creation of customised high-quality and long-lasting power transmission products in collaboration with the customer and their specific requirements.