Protect your equipment, business and customers from spare parts fraud

According to a study by the OECD and the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), trade in counterfeit and pirated goods amounted to up to 2.5 % of world trade in 2019. (1) The US Chamber of Commerce estimates that counterfeit products costs the global economy over $500 billion a year. (2) Huge problems for economies, IP protection and incentivization to innovate. But for industrial machinery and applications, human safety becomes the more serious concern—counterfeit spare parts are manufactured for maximum profit, not reliability.

Every two years, the VDMA, one of the largest trade associations in Europe, surveys its members about the impact of parts piracy. For 2022, more than 70% report being affected, more than 40% report counterfeits that risk operator safety, and more than 50% see dangers to operational safety arising from their use. (3) We’re all worried about them. But they’re everywhere—and not always easy to avoid.  



The cheat is on
The Konecranes team regularly searches Konecranes lift trucks spare parts online, especially high wear consumables such as filters, sensors and other often replaced components. Often there are quite a few players offering a copycat version under the same part number. “They are quite good at search engine optimization,” says Johan Kårhammer, Global Spare Parts Operations Manager. “Customers think they are ordering and paying for genuine spare parts, but get cheated on price and quality.”

These “grey market” suppliers copy and reverse engineer spare parts with inferior quality, using the Konecranes brand name to be able to still charge full price for an inferior product. Or they use imagery and logos that are similar to Konecranes branding and packaging, and the same ordering number, to suggest similar quality for a spare part Konecranes is unable to stand behind.

“We’ve had a customer return lifting chains, citing issues with them,” says Johan. “The problem was they were not genuine Konecranes-approved, and especially for this parts type, there is a very clear safety issue.”

Twist locks are another example of a common spare part the copycats like to claim is a commodity with few differences from the Konecranes original. But there could be material differences, or other changes and updates that would only be available through official Konecranes channels. In the case of a twist lock, it’s a critical safety part that can be fatal if it fails—not the place to compromise for the sake of saving a few Euros.

Constant vigilance
Sometimes they copy the stickers, or outer packaging, to suggest a Konecranes product is inside—when it is not. Entire websites have been fraudulently designed using Konecranes colors and logos to suggest products purchased there were genuine. And customers simply doing an internet search for a real Konecranes spare part number are at risk of finding suppliers who don’t have their best interests in mind.

“It’s quite easy to be deceived,” says Johan. “How are customers supposed to know the product they are looking at is a fake? Especially with high volume consumables—they usually avoid trickier low volume parts that would expose them easily.”

To protect customers and the integrity of the Konecranes quality promise, distributors, agents and employees in different markets keep an eye out for counterfeits and copycats. When one is identified, legal means are pursued. 

And Johan has advice for customers who want to avoid these issues entirely: “Always purchase your original spare parts from a Konecranes authorized distributor.”




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