Warning! What to look out for when purchasing imported equipment.
In production facilities across Australia you will find a wide range of imported equipment. There are a number of reasons for purchasing equipment from international suppliers and many of them are valid. Often there are no locally produced alternatives to perform the required operation, locally produced alternatives might not be able to handle the volume of production required or the end user wasn’t aware that a locally produced alternative was available. In this article we will highlight some of the commonly overlooked aspects of purchasing imported equipment which can be costly at the end of the day.
PRICE: IT CAN COST YOU MORE IN THE LONG RUN
One aspect of imported equipment which may entice end users to purchase from overseas is price. It is well known that you can purchase cheap machines manufactured in countries like China and India and these machines are well known for being unreliable, unsafe and unsupported. What isn’t as well known is that machines produced in the USA can fall into the same category. The machine safety standards in the USA are not as stringent as Australian and European Standards, and this can pose a significant risk to owners of production facilities who purchase and install machines which do not comply.
Let’s start with the cost of buying an unreliable machine. A machine which constantly breaks down is not only frustrating, its impact on the business is significant. When a machine that plays a critical part of the production line stops operating for just one hour the costs can be high. The production numbers for the day will be down, the staff operating the line still have to be paid and additional hours may need to be worked at overtime rates to meet the daily production requirements. Depending on the product, the stoppage may spoil product which has to be disposed of.
If the imported machine is unsupported in Australia or has limited support it can be days if not weeks before a technician can attend site to rectify any issues which arise. The cost to a business to bypass the broken machine with manual labour or shut operations until the machine is fixed can often be more than the original purchase price of the machine.
By far the biggest cost to any business operating imported equipment which doesn’t comply with Australian Standards is when an injury occurs. The cost of an injury, or worse death, caused by a non-compliant machine can cost millions of dollars and prison time for the directors/owners of the business. More than the monetary cost, a family could be left without someone they love or the injured person will have to live with their injury for the rest of their life.
While many international companies claim that they comply with Australian Standard the onus is on the purchaser/importer of the equipment to ensure it complies. We have seen many installations where machines do not comply but the owner simply says that the manufacture assured them it does. Unfortunately this argument will not stand up in court if an accident occurs.
CUSTOM vs OFF THE SHELF
This argument is usually driven by price as well but not always. Imported equipment is almost always an off the shelf design. There are some reputable companies selling quality off the shelf equipment however not only do you need to make sure that the safety standards measure up, but you also have to change your production processes to suit the equipment capability instead of getting equipment that ties in to current production demands.
Off the shelf equipment doesn’t tend to offer flexibility as production demands change and if purchased abroad local support will be limited when problems arise. On the other hand, locally made custom equipment can be designed to not only meet production demands but to fit into existing facilities that often have space constraints. Custom equipment tends to be more sophisticated with customised software and applications to ensure less down time of production. They are also more flexible and able to be adapted as product demands change over time.
While it may seem like an attractive proposition to purchase imported machinery please ensure you consider the questions below.
Is there a locally produced alternative?
Does the machine comply with AS 4024.1 – Safeguarding of machinery and plant and AS/NZS 3000 – wiring rules? If you are unsure you can employ an expert to assess and advise.
What is the cost to make the machine compliant?
Is the manufacturer providing a performance and reliability guarantee?
Do you have local support for preventative maintenance and breakdown assistance?
Are there import duties and transportation costs which need to be considered?
Where do you purchase spare parts and how long will it take to receive them?
Can you contact the manufacturer during production hours if assistance is needed?
What is the expected life of the machine?
What is the hourly cost of production if the machine stops working?
If production needs change is the equipment able to be adapted to suit or will you have to go and buy brand new equipment all over again?
There are many manufacturers of imported equipment that Fibre King regularly work with. If you have any questions regarding a potential purchase of imported machines please feel free to contact us for advice. If you have imported machinery in your facility and are unsure if they comply with Australian Standards we are more than happy to complete an assessment and provide you with a report by our TUV qualified safety engineers.
Give us a call on 1300 831 330.