have reacted with policies requiring
organizations and contractors to deal
with the problem by reporting all findings of suspect/counterfeit items, but
DOE problems are a small segment of
the market. Other, wider problems exist
in industries such as the automotive
aftermarket, where one of the largest
growth areas for counterfeiting appears
to be in truck air-brake system components, according to Fleet Owner
magazine. And such problems are sporadic
with little incentive for either user or
manufacturer victims to publicize incidents.
But is the prevalence of counterfeiting
getting better or worse?
“If we’re talking about the problem at
large, then I guess my perception is the
problem is getting worse,” says Dan
Velan, marketing director, Velan Valve
Corp., “or at least has been over the
decade. If we’re saying in the last six
months or in the last couple of years,
there’s definitely been an increased focus
on this issue.” Velan adds that there
seems to be considerably more counterfeiting of small commodity-type valves
than larger control valves. He cites European companies that have been nearly
driven out of business by the flood of
counterfeits and knockoffs.
VMA President Bill Sandler confirms
this is true. He just returned from a trip
to the European Committee for the Valve
Industry Congress in Baveno, Italy and
before that, the ACHEMA international
trade show in Frankfurt am Main. Sandler reports that counterfeiting was a
major topic of discussion, including the
fact that to create a counterfeit today,
“you buy one [part] and you take it apart
and then you put it back together your
The problem has become so bad that
at a trade show a few years ago, a Chinese company was showing exact copies
of the products of a British manufacturer,
he adds. In fact, “they had a little sign
next to the copy, [indicating] ‘parts interchangeable with the British company.’”
The British company persuaded show
management to shut down the booth in
that case, but similar situations persist.
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM EPRI
Marc Tannenbaum reports that EPRI has a project underway to develop guidance on how to address the issue of counterfeit, fraudulent and substandard
items (CFSIs). Here is his list of recommendations for both valve purchasers and
valve manufacturers that purchase raw materials and parts (such as fasteners)
used in the manufacture of their valves:
Immediate actions – implement robust procurement controls:
; Use approved distribution networks.
; Safeguard design information, prevent it from becoming available to coun-
; Question suppliers’ return policies and design control measures—how do
they control parts and subassemblies purchased from sub-tier suppliers?
; Incorporate terms and conditions that address expectations (and conse-
quences) relative to counterfeit, fraudulent and substandard items.
; Open lines of communication with suppliers, ask them to provide instruc-
tions for how to recognize and avoid any counterfeits if they know of
instances where the items you purchase have been counterfeited.
; Trust by verify—perform diligent inspection in receiving items procured,
particularly when they are provided by a new supplier or must be procured
outside of approved distribution networks.
; Pursue incidents when they are identified; notify the authentic OEM; pros-
ecute if possible.
Possible future actions:
; Identify existing sources of information
; Develop a database or means to effectively collect and share industry
; Use educational tools and training for staff
Tannenbaum also recommends the 1990 EPRI document Guidelines for the
Procurement and Receipt of Items for Nuclear Power Plants (NCIG- 15), available at
www.mydocs.epri.com/docs/public/NP-6629.pdf. “Appendix C of this document,” he says, “addresses identification of substandard and fraudulent items
and contains specific guidance on valves. Subsequently, nuclear licenses have
been applying this guidance, and it has been an effective barrier against counterfeits entering the inventories of commercial nuclear generation facilities.”
“There’s a number of shows where
they’re the dominant factor as far as
exhibiting,” Sandler says, and while a
U.S. company might have a collection of
their own valves showing, a Chinese
exhibitor sometimes has ten times as
many, “showing they can make any type
of valve in any size and any pressure and
any material. And then they go around
with their camera taking pictures of others,” he says.
One bright spot, according to Ray
McCaffrey, president, Quality Valve, Inc.,
is in safety and relief valves. This is
because the National Board Inspection
Code requires the use of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts and is
strict about documentation of that OEM.
The problem of bogus repaired valves
is actually less severe now than it was
some years ago, says Greg Johnson, president of United Valve and former chairman of the Valve Repair Council. He
explains that it all started when companies revamping plants would sell off old
valves as scrap. Someone who bought
those and sold them as is, without warrantee, would not be doing anything dis-