Counterfeit Construction Materials More Likely Than You Think

Nancy Anderson
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Engineering News-Record recently published an interesting article highlighting the impact that counterfeit goods are making on the US construction industry. What struck me most was not the size of the black market for counterfeit goods in the US, but the fact that the massive quantities of counterfeit goods entering the US run the entire gamut of supplies, all the way from the more readily-glamorized knockoff handbags and illicit prescription drugs, right up to entire crawler cranes.

Recently seized were some one million counterfeit Square D circuit breakers, and huge quantities of fasteners, pipe, valves... if it appears on a job site, there’s no guarantee it’s immune from illegal importation. The
Construction Industry Institute published a report in June that included a survey of counterfeit goods discovered in the US construction industry. You may recall the huge flap caused by defective and toxic drywall imported from China; this is different, as the fakes often go undetected for quite some time, and bear serial numbers allocated to legitimately imported goods.

The CII report recommends any company seriously scrutinize their supply chain; brokers that seemingly offer unbelievable price breaks normally draw attention, but since the cost savings on individual items ordered in very large quantities are typically negligible, there may not be any warning signs in the bottom line. Purchasers need to be far more wary these days, since the embrace of internet business practices has made it far easier for shady companies to grab attention, look legitimate, and makes sales of shoddy merchandise.

The ENR article provides an in-depth look at this serious issue.

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Mike Wrightly is mostly diesel fumes and duct tape; he grew up around heavy equipment, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering.

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