Updated guidelines to detect counterfeit substandard materials

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Issue 51 – July 2013

The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) has updated its guidelines for engineers to safeguard against substandard and counterfeit products.

IPENZ started reviewing its guidance to engineers after concerns were raised about the quality of materials and equipment used in various industries – construction, engineering, and machinery – at its annual Engineering Professions Forum earlier this year.

The updated guidelines promote practical steps and precautions to help engineers detect counterfeit materials and avoid using them. This includes taking precautionary measures such as verifying authentication, scrutinising labels and packaging and checking for certification marks on products or materials they've ordered. In addition, there is advice to avoid products that lack identifying branding or include additional markings other than from the original manufacturers, have poor-quality labels, and out-of-date product codes.

IPENZ chief executive Andrew Cleland says that as counterfeiters become more sophisticated, counterfeit products become even more difficult to detect, creating an increasing need for additional scrutiny. 'Procurement through an unknown website at a price too good to be true should immediately raise concerns, but detection is not always that easy.'

These guidelines have been updated to assist engineers, but they include practical steps to safeguard against inferior products, which could help anyone working with out-sourced products.

To date, IPENZ has received only anecdotal evidence of sub-standard or counterfeit products in industry but Cleland says, 'Any person including engineers with information on how such materials are arriving has a public duty to notify relevant authorities'.

IPENZ will monitor the situation through any notifications received from its members and associated industry sector groups, working to assist industry regulators.

→ The reviewed practice guidance is available at http://www.ipenz.org.nz/ipenz/forms/pdfs/Counterfeit-Parts-and-Substandard-Materials.pdf

Summarised from an IPENZ media release, 13 June 2013.

Published in engineering.