Plant & Works Engineering

Bagging a bargain

Published:  08 May, 2007

If there's one thing which defines the British psyche it"s the desire to bag a bargain, whether it be from ebay, Amazon or Primark. And why not?  The risks of buying say, a CD on ebay where the origin cannot be verified, is that the play list order on the sleeve may not match the CD. However, buying more critical items such as parts for a compressed air system - e.g. compressor spares, pressure relief (safety) valves, filter elements and pneumatic hand tools, has far greater risks in terms of reliability for the system as well as safety.

Always check for the CE mark - evidence that the product complies with European law.  It should also have printed instructions - if one or both of these are missing, then the product may be counterfeit, non-compliant and not perform as it should.  See BCAS fact sheet FCT305 Machinery Conformity.  Perhaps the greatest risk is that it injures employees (e.g. high levels of vibration or noise from a non-compliant tool) then you are faced with litigation.  If a product does fail within 12 months, you are still entitled to a refund from the supplier, though this is hardly sufficient consolation for the disruption to your process and personnel time involved, neither does it constitute good business practice to be fixing problems caused by purchasing on a "lowest initial cost” basis.  

Ensure that when buying replacement parts that any non-OEM product is fit for purpose e.g. a filter element has sufficient pressure rating.  OEM products may have a patented design or employ different technology so that the dirt holding or oil removal capacity, of the filter element is greater such that the service life is longer and offers better protection for downstream product.

So, when purchasing equipment, remember the old maxim – if something appears too good to be true – then it probably is.