The mechanical engineering industry is experiencing a slowdown. A major portion of sales in this sector is generated with original spare parts and corresponding services.
At the same time, 71 percent of the companies in the German machinery and plant engineering sector are affected by product piracy of their spare parts. The estimated losses inflicted on the industry amount to 7.3 billion euros per year (2018 VDMA Product Piracy Survey).
Schreiner Group has now developed an RFID-based concept that protects manufacturers against the deployment of counterfeits.
Counterfeits and lower-priced replicas are partially responsible for the declining sales of machinery and spare parts manufacturers. Worse yet, the utilization of faked spare parts entails considerable risks for machine users, machine technology or the environment. In many cases, typically expected quality standards and operating times or lifecycles cannot be achieved. Potential consequences include a tarnished brand image and even the loss of a leading position in the marketplace.
The consequences of faked or replica spare parts utilization often emerge slowly and across extended periods of time. An initial stagnation of spare part sales is followed by a decline – in spite of stable sales of the related machines.
Ways of Escaping the Counterfeiting Trap
Reliable and Clear Marking of Spare Parts
The basis of this concept consists of RFID labels that are optimized for their location of deployment and, due to high-grade encryption, are able to communicate error-free with an RFID reader in the machine. The encoding on the label is performed in a protected, NASPO-certified production facility to assure maximum security.
Due to reliable recognition of the originals with diverse encryptions in each machine, the manufacturer is able to manage operating times and lifecycles or approval levels worldwide and make individual decisions about any material. The utilization of fakes can almost completely be prevented in this way or at least be reliably documented.
If non-original material is used, the machine speed will slow down in order to prevent errors or defects. In addition, the accurate documentation enables manufacturers to cease any service under warranty provisions in the event that non-specific, non-original materials are frequently used. Previously used materials cannot be employed again because the system has already recorded and cancelled the smart products.
Automated Material Procurement
With Schreiner Group’s solution concept, the material flow and material inventory are recorded at each machine and can be communicated and managed worldwide in real time. This enables machine manufacturers to manage the spare part inventories of their customers at the respective customer sites. When the minimum stock level has been reached, the manufacturer is informed by email and can immediately replenish the stock. This secures the manufacturer’s sales of original parts and concurrently reduces the administrative costs incurred by all parties because no communication is required for the standard ordering process.
When RFID labels are used on spare parts individual components can also be fully integrated into the control process. Service providers or customers can authenticate the parts using mobile, industrial readers or cell phones. For this purpose, the data on the RFID label are queried in a secure database and removed from the system in real time. In the event that previously removed data sets should appear again, this would be clearly communicated to the inquiring party as a message stating “fake.”
End-to-End Process Solution from a One-Stop-Shop
For a total solution of these dimensions, it is important that all current processes in the production of spare parts and the logistics chain can be checked in real time. Schreiner Group’s solution encompasses end-to-end RFID-based data acquisition of the materials from the application of the RFID labels, the production flow and quality inspection through to monitoring in logistics across the entire supply chain.