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Industry warned of grey repair threat to hydraulic and electronic drives

Industry warned of grey repair threat to hydraulic and electronic drives
Non-official or 'grey' repairs to hydraulic and electronic drives are threatening industrial productivity by increasing downtime and placing warranties at risk, according to one of the UK's leading drives and controls manufacturers. The warning, from Bosch Rexroth, has been issued to production and maintenance managers who continue to use non-official repairers, also known as the grey market, to repair highly sophisticated equipment.

"We estimate that nearly 65 percent of electronic drive repairs in the UK are completed by non-official repairers," says Richard Chamberlain, UK Service Manager at Bosch Rexroth. "The situation in hydraulics is even worse. We estimate that circa 80 percent of hydraulic repairs are completed by the grey market."

Richard says that there is a misconception that hydraulic drives are easy to repair with no account taken of which components are used in the repair, or how this may affect any warranties. "It's a big issue with hydraulics in particular, because it's generally a simpler technology that many maintenance engineers believe can be just sent down the road to a grey repairer," he says. "However, even the simplest repair completed in the grey market could increase the likelihood of a premature failure."

Mr Chamberlain cites a recent case of a customer to make his point. "The customer in question was using a large pump and, upon failure, the maintenance engineer took a decision to fit a copy sourced from the grey repair market. The copy failed which resulted in the closure of the customer's production line for a long period of time with tens of thousands of pounds of production time lost."

Mr Chamberlain concludes: "Ultimately, while taking the grey repair route can at the time appear to be the cheaper option, the use of inferior components increases the risk of machine downtime, which could end up costing manufacturers thousands of pounds in lost revenue."
 

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