FIGHTING FAKES: How to be sure you’re buying genuine industrial process filters and not counterfeit ones.
Counterfeiting is most commonly associated with the worlds of fashion, sportswear, film, music and gaming. Handbags, clothes, jewellery, videos, software and sound recordings are among the products routinely pirated.
By faking genuine brands, unscrupulous traders keep consumers in the dark and deny legitimate businesses the income they need.
What’s less well known is that counterfeiting also affects business-to-business activity in many industries. Unapproved components, doctored spare parts, recycled items and stolen goods are all part of the mix of counterfeit trade.
With industrial process filters, how can you guarantee you have the real thing and not a pale imitation? What can you do to check the authenticity of the product or parts you’re looking to buy?
Here, Amazon Filters’ Managing Director Neil Pizzey highlights an example of a fake product recently brought to his attention. He also explains why counterfeiting is a menace for law-abiding manufacturers, suppliers and end-users. And he sets out some ideas to help if you need to confirm the authenticity of a product purporting to be from Amazon Filters.
Caught out: a prime example of counterfeiting
A customer came to us recently with a query about the batch number of some filters they had purchased. They had intended to buy genuine Amazon Filters products.
As I looked at the photo they sent (see below), I realised that these were definitely not our products, even though they were using Amazon Filters brand names and part numbers.
The label design was wrong, there was no 2D barcode on the labels, and the format of the batch and lot numbers was wrong.
The customer had bought the filters in good faith under legitimate Amazon Filters part numbers, and the vendor had claimed to be supplying Amazon Filters products. The only trouble was - these were counterfeit products, pure and simple.
They were sold by an unscrupulous vendor who, rather than trying to win the business by honestly proposing a retrofit of the original Amazon Filters cartridge, decided to pretend they were supplying the original manufacturer’s part.
Why is industrial product counterfeiting a problem?
Manufacturers in all industry sectors will naturally seek to protect their products, brands and customers from the risk of counterfeiting. It’s a concern for everyone.
Counterfeiters can be based anywhere, leveraging the strength of a company’s good name to take advantage of customer trust. You spend a lot of time building your reputation in the market only to see it threatened by an unknown party mimicking your products and undercutting you on price.
The partnership between us as a filtration manufacturer and supplier, our distributors and our customers is necessarily built on trust and confidence. We’re typically providing a technically advanced solution, with high-quality filtration products tailored specifically to the end user's working environment.
To achieve success, the project team may well be sharing critical technical details, intellectual property and sensitive information on project requirements and timescales.
The aim is to provide filtration solutions that protect critical components and processes from damage caused by liquid and solid contaminants. If the filtration system is sub-standard and doesn’t do the job, contamination can easily result in costly downtime, unscheduled maintenance requirements and even unsafe operating conditions.
Genuine investment versus pale imitation
We have clients in all industrial sectors that deal with process engineering and fluids. As well as municipal water, they include oil and gas, chemicals and coatings, and healthcare. Proper, fit-for-purpose filtration systems - designed, made and delivered to meet client and project specification - are an essential part of process engineering across all of these industries.
That’s precisely why we have invested substantially to ensure our ‘quick and able’ manufacturing capacity continues to meet the demands of customers across the world. We have recently expanded our factory floor area for cartridge production and introduced new automated filter cartridge pleating and assembly equipment. We’ve also installed automated welding equipment, new packing and dispatch technology and a factory-wide wireless network to support the traceability of any product or component.
In our recent counterfeiting example above, the replacement filter may do the job, who knows? But for sure there is no investment behind it on a par with ours, and the end customer isn’t getting what they are paying for.
The worst thing is that you can’t easily tell the difference just by looking at the filter from the outside. Many of these fakes are cosmetically very convincing. And who knows what environment it was made in? Child labour anyone? Unhygienic production premises? Contaminated or unsafe materials? None of these things may be the case but the point is that unless you are buying product from a reputable source where you know the provenance then you are putting your own processes and potentially your own reputation at risk.
Consequences for safety
While everything may seem to be above board at first glance, just consider the damage a poorly designed filter can cause. In a critical industry the consequences of buying a counterfeit product with unknown provenance are potentially horrific. Contaminated food products? Pharmaceutical recall? Drinking water tainted with hazardous chemicals? It makes you shudder to think about it.
Counterfeiting simply creates headaches all round. I once spent a day with a global fuel injection supplier in China discussing how to stop fake filters being installed on diesel truck engines. The supplier had been receiving massive warranty claims due to the fuel filters not doing the job. One of the issues was fake filters in the truck companies’ own dealer network. In a nutshell, rogue dealers were working for the spares purchasing departments of the truck companies and purchasing fake products. Who would question it when you buy an original branded part from the original dealer? The problem was so serious our customer contact was considering putting microchips on the filters for authentication purposes. It was a bizarre situation as the chips would have cost more than the filters!
Keeping peace of mind
The moral of the story is simple. Counterfeit filtration equipment poses a threat to all industrial processes.
Odd-looking packaging, inconsistent label design, strange number formats and suspect addresses are all clues to counterfeit products that simply haven’t gone through a quality control process to ensure proper performance.
To sum up, make sure to check you have the quality product you expect, not a cheap, ineffective and potentially unsafe knock-off. Don’t always take things at face value. Know your supplier and what they are supplying you.
If you want advice on confirming the origin or authenticity of a product advertised as being from Amazon Filters, or you wish to verify the status of a supplier, we’re here to help. We can check immediately whether or not a company is on our official list of distributors and partners. Show us the label and we can check who these were made for and supplied to, and indeed that we did actually make them!
Contact our customer help team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 1276 670600