Beware of Grey Imports
For many years non authorized importers have bought various types of products into Australia “under the radar” as it were, to gain a marketing advantage over authorized importers and manufacturers representatives. This practice has always been fraught with risk however was typically for small low value items that were not subject to Australian OH&S requirements. With the practice now moving up to substantial capital equipment that must meet OH&S and Australian Standards the game has dramatically changed.
With the recent movements in the Australian dollar, various organizations have sort to benefit from bringing substandard, non approved product into Australia to only line their own pockets and consider none of the safety aspects for the operators of the equipment. Nor are they concerned with supporting the equipment in the short term and certainly not in the future when exchange rates move again and they loose interest in this opportunistic situation.
Before you invest in any capital equipment not purchased from an authorized importer or agent you should at the least consider the points both raised in this document and the comments made in the Farmline Press article on the back page.
What is a Grey or Parallel Import ?
The term grey import refers to an item that has been imported into a country, legally, but without the agreement of the manufacturer. The term parallel import is often also be used.
What's a grey import?
Generally, it's an item imported through a grey area in a country's import laws.
In Australia, as far as it applies to Telescopic Handlers, grey imports are used machines bought (usually wholesale) in another country, then imported in limited numbers.
Unlike official imports, these imports are without the approval or involvement of the manufacturer and receive no official support through the manufacturer's dealer network.
What about a parallel import?
While a grey import is generally a used unit imported from another country, a parallel import is, typically, a new machine which is imported without any involvement of the manufacturer or the manufacturer's representative in the country.
THE FOLLOWING ISSUES SHOULD BE CONSIDERED PRIOR TO PURCHASE OF A GREY OR PARRALLEL IMPORTED MACHINE
1/ Does the machine meet with Australian safety requirements in particular Australian Standards AS1418.19 (Design & Manufacture) and AS2550.19 (Safe Use & Maintenance)? To be able to use a machine on job sites in Australia the operator/owner will need a copy of the Australian Design Verification. Does the machine you are considering have this?
Did you know that Telescopic Handlers sold in Australia have to meet specific stability requirements not found anywhere else in the world? Manufactures who build machines for Australia produce machines specifically designed to meet these standards and requirements. Additional features can be anything from different load charts to additional counterweights. Specifically machines can bear the same model name world wide, however can be structurally quite different for different markets.
2/ Does the load charts meet the Australian Standards and are there load charts for all the attachments fitted? Are they in English? Does the rating plate reflect 600mm load centre capacities or altered capacities for any attachment fitted? Is the unit supplied with an Australian compliant Operator Manual as per the Australian Standard?
Telescopic Handlers sold in Australia must meet minimum requirements for load charts. Ask the question do load charts exist for this model of machine that is being offered to you? A machine without the correct load charts IS NOT USABLE IN AUSTRALIA.
3/ Units imported via non authorized (OEM appointed) channels will not receive notification of factory upgrades or important safety/product improvement campaigns.
If you do not receive these notifications and you are involved in a an accident your insurance may not be valid and you certainly can’t meet your obligations under AS2550.19
4/ Is there any local warranty supplied? Will the local manufacturer’s authorized representative honour warranty on units they did not import or pre deliver?
Be careful with promises made by unauthorized suppliers and their claims with regards to warranty coverage if the machine has not been imported by the official company channel into Australia. It is highly unlikely the Australian Authorized importer will be able to offer warranty on a machine that has not been made for the Australian market or Design Verified to the Australian standards. Nor would it be likely they would get any support from the manufacturer for such an import.
As indicated in point 1, because of the specific nature of the Australian Standards and OH&S regulations in Australia, machines made for and sold in this market can have very different technical specifications to machines produced for other export markets. For this reason it may simply not be possible to source the parts required for such a machine which was not supplied through the authorized channel.
6/ In the event of an accident, is there any manufacturers liability if they were not involved in the import or the regular maintenance of the unit?
Under OH&S Regulations the seller of these machines is viewed as the importer and therefore assume all the responsibilities of the manufacturer, can the supplier of an import genuinely meet these requirements?
7/ Re-sale value of any non compliant, grey/parallel import will be seriously reduced.
As regulations get stricter and stricter from an OH&S perceptive and sites continue to “tag out” machines that cannot produce there Australian Design Verification. Selling or reselling such a used machine may simply become impossible as it would not be able to be used in a commercial operation.
8/ You need to know who the importer is. What is the responsibility of a small, non TSHA affiliated importer in case of failure or accident? Beware of the opportunistic wholesalers who import a couple of container loads of second hand or low volume product, sell them off cheaply and then move onto the next opportunity. Where does this leave the customer from a product support and service/ parts backup position in the future?
9/ Is the machine in a true condition as portrayed, how do you verify the condition to meet the requirements of AS2550.19? Does the machine have proper documentation?
Failure to have correct records and service history may result in substantial fines under OH&S Regulations. In the event that no records exist under the Australian Standard 2550.1, the import has to have a mandatory 10 year inspection as per Australian Standard AS2550.19 before it can commence work. This can not only be costly but may also require some major modifications to meet the Australian Design Verification as mentioned earlier.