Truck drivers are under a lot of pressure from the FMCSA and the DOT to drive as safely as possible, sometimes to nearly unfair standards in the eyes of many truckers. So when something happens that make honest truck drivers even more put upon, we tend to sit up and take notice.
This week, editors over at Fleet Owner magazine online Sean Kilcarr and Jim Meele, examined a continuing problem in the North American motor parts market – Counterfeiting. They first reported on it many years back in 2004 after Meele had begun noticing more and more customs reports highlighting tricky record keeping from manufacturers in China. Most counterfeit truck parts originate there, due to China’s extremely lax patent laws and a legal system that will turn a blind eye if the parts are making the company (and country) money.
While most of the money and effort surrounding this go toward the 4 wheeler market for cars and light trucks, Meele noticed that China’s manufacturers were getting bolder about what markets they were willing to try and exploit.
“Channels for distributing parts are also much narrower in the heavy-duty market with truck builders and original component makers maintaining strong relationships with their dealers. Independent parts dealers are also closely aligned with genuine parts distribution, relying on engine, drivetrain and other component producers, as well as truck OEMs for the ready access to parts and technical support fleets require.
“Fleets are also more sophisticated about total lifecycle costs and have far more at stake than a consumer buying parts for their car. “With a truck, you’re dealing with a piece of capital equipment, so you’re selling uptime,” says Harry Howard, vp and GM for ArvinMeritor’s worldwide commercial vehicle aftermarket activities. “The risk is far lower with a personal vehicle.”
Since then, the Chinese economy has expanded at a ravenous rate, nearly 8% per year, an astounding rate when the sheer number of companies that exist within the country are taken into account. Helping the conditions grow even more ripe is the quick expansion of the middle and earning classes in India. The parts are highly sought after, if merely for a recognizable name.
“We’ve seen main bearings in Cummins boxes carrying Cummins parts numbers on the aftermarket in India,” says Dave Porter, director of marketing and product management. “If you looked at them closely, it was easy to see the substandard quality, but they were represented as Cummins products.”
This week Kilcarr revisits the expanding counterfeit parts problem and news of a new tech solution that’s helping manufacturers keep their reputations intact and truck drivers content knowing they’re buying legitimate products. It only takes one faulty air brake valve or clutch to ruin a truckers record and perhaps even other drivers’ lives.