It has been said that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and in some cases that may be correct.  However, when it comes to construction materials that are counterfeits to the real deal, that imitation may cause great harm to life and property.

The Construction Industry Institute (CII) recently sponsored a study, “Product Integrity Concerns in Low-Cost Sourcing Countries,” about the counterfeit construction materials.  The report included a reference to a 2003 study on the overall market of counterfeits.  It found that the market was valued at about $1 trillion, which included the knock-off Fendi bags and Rolex watches, but also the metals, fasteners, and other materials used in American construction.

This Issue at Hand

The CII study notes: “Although there are many areas of concern related to product integrity, the potential impact of counterfeit products to plant performance, plant life cycle, safety, [and] structural and product integrity was the focus of this investigation. While there is much literature on counterfeiting in general, there is almost nothing documented on counterfeiting relative to the construction industry. For example, the counterfeit ‘industry’ does hundreds of billions of dollars of business annually; however, the scope of counterfeiting within construction is unknown. What is known is that counterfeit products have caused significant negative impacts to safety, project schedules, overall costs and quality of construction.”

The study focused on interviews with approximately 187 construction industry officials, as well as members of various governments.   The CII research was conducted in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Canada and the United States.

The report delved into the Class A through C counterfeit types.  Class A counterfeit products are of high quality but obviously flawed, materials or products with a Class C designation are literally unusable or at least should not be used.  Other types of forgeries include products with labels or stamps from legitimate testing or licensing authorities, such as the Underwriters Laboratories or other similar organizations.  These cause the greatest concern because of the false sense of security that they are legitimate and have been tested in some manner.

The CII provided a list of the top 10 counterfeit construction materials and products.  These are listed in the chart below:

Recommendations and Efforts to Educate Manufacturers and the Supply Chain

Supplier pre-qualification, manufacturing surveillance, resident inspection, third-party verification, and unscheduled in-process inspections are all activities that manufacturers need to diligently perform or procure if they are to maintain supply chain integrity. Here are a few recommendations from the CII that are contained in our eBook (LINK to eBook!) for the industry and the individual contractor to fight the problem:

  • Confirm and verify that every link in the supply chain is secure and observed. Responsible manufacturers have designed and implemented highly reliable and secure distribution networks that ensure product integrity. For branded products, trust only manufacturer-authorized distributors.
  • The industry as a whole should adopt a zero-tolerance policy regarding counterfeiting. Report all incidences of counterfeiting to the appropriate authorities and never fail to support any law enforcement agency’s effort to prosecute to the full extent of the law.
  • Train/educate customs officials and other law enforcement agency personnel regarding measures against counterfeit construction goods and materials—not just the higher-profile retail

Our Stand on Counterfeit Materials

At Corrugated Metals, we adhere to the strictest guidelines in securing our lines of supply against counterfeit materials. We sell only prime aluminum and steel products. Every product we manufacture is accompanied by mill certification reports, which document the quality of the metal. Every product is checked for gauge, length, width, coverage, surface, and other quality parameters. And we make it our business to be the best-informed and most proactive company in the roll forming and corrugated metal field.

Want to learn how you can protect your business from counterfeit materials? Request a quote.