Counterfeit Industrial Products

Be aware, they’re everywhere.

Since the Industrial Revolution, global manufacturing economies have succeeded as entrepreneurs invent products that aid specific markets and manufacturers. RegO’s experience is no different, beginning at the turn of the 20th century as the main supplier for CO2 soda fountain systems. As industrial markets were established in welding and LPG transport and delivery, we designed new equipment to assist in a wide variety of applications.

Substantial investment in engineering and manufacturing expertise, coupled by market-driven capital investment over decades, have enabled us to undergo continuous improvement and enhancement of the products we build. Design iterations are constantly underway in the attempt to increase longevity, serviceability and flow parameters. In the case of emerging markets such as hydrogen fueling, we work closely with companies focusing on future opportunities, not to participate in “bleeding edge” technologies, but to realize a subsequent return on the sizeable investments we undertake.

Imitation is Not the Sincerest Form of Flattery
During a recent trip overseas, I walked through an underground shopping mall in a subway station occupied by literally hundreds of storekeepers selling high-end branded handbags, jewelry, clothing and even golf equipment at unbelievable prices. The problem was that 99 percent of the offerings were fake. Most of the time, a high-end label was applied to shoddily made goods in an attempt to pass for the genuine article. This practice exists all over the globe, and such goods can be found in almost every major city.

Similarly, there exist other machining-based global companies that own the manufacturing equipment to cut brass, bronze and steel and have looked to ECII as a blueprint for pirating our designs. In most cases, these companies are offshore entities that are weak in engineering expertise—especially in the markets we serve. They look to arenas such as ours as a potential quick-hit and-move-on strategy.

The dangerous proposition occurs when inexperienced manufacturers produce a product for which they know little or nothing of the application. They may have obtained samples of one-time production, where RegO has later formulated many improvements downstream of that specific iteration. Further, the design may be visually acceptable or, even in the case of product testing, selected non-production samples may be approved.

Historically, this lack of experience has produced valve copies that may include our part number and, in some cases, our RegO trademark on castings or forgings. We have experienced “duplicated” valves that have been involved with serious failures in the field in other industries we supply.

Safety and Cost
These incidences cause difficulties in varied areas. Primarily, safety is a concern of the distributor and the end-user of industrial gases, as accidents can cause loss of life and property. The liability exposure, as a result of an accident, can drive companies out of business or seriously affect their operations for many years. We could also question the support of such a manufacturer when it comes to liability exposure, the courts, etc.

The overheads that quality manufacturers spend in engineering, research, development, product testing and training are all part of the quality formula that goes into every piece of equipment built. We take this process seriously as we strive for 100 percent repeatability of our standards and tolerances in our offerings. As with the gas distributor, we want to assure that our organization is aligned for sustained growth and longevity.

We all realize the overheads of a distributor’s organization, including capital outlay, and quality is essential to every part of that operation. You can be assured that an alliance with quality manufacturers helps to protect your investment and improve your operating position. There is no doubt that low quality copies will be evident as we move forward, but protecting your interests will always be better served with manufacturers who strive for excellence.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Michael A. Tarala Meet the Author
Michael A. Tarala is the sales and marketing manager for RegO Cryo-Flow Products, located in Burlington, North Carolina, and on the Web at www.regoproducts.com.