FoodStream has worked with a number of clients who have purchased processing equipment from China. When you look at the cost it is difficult to go past it! But that doesn’t mean it is good value. Of course we need to be careful about generalising too much – it can be well-made and very productive – BUT sometimes the final cost is higher than buying from western countries initially. The sorts of traps and “hidden” costs we have seen include:
· Doesn’t live up to promised capacity.
· Not up to Australian safety standards (remember if you buy it from China you are the “importer” and have full legal responsibly)
· No electrical safety understanding – a complete system wired without any earthing, no safety interlocks and equipment wired around emergency stops. This could have easily led to loss of life of an operator. Under the Workplace Health and Safety Act, this would be Reckless conduct Category 1, the maximum penalties are $600,000 or 5 years imprisonment or both.
· Lacking reliability. Often caused by poor materials selection or poor quality of manufacture.
· Control system bugs that are difficult to fix because it is programmed in Chinese
· If it has a control system!
· Manual operation which is too labour intensive here.
· Parts and service is not available locally.
· Commissioning by Chinese inadequate and they leave before it works properly (sometimes happy to forgo the minor final payment)
· Lack of operation and maintenance documentation and on-going support.
· In one case – a well built copy of some European equipment – but obviously copied from a second hand machine, so it was supplied new but worn out!
The message: Have someone who knows the process and equipment assess it and give advise – before you buy. (Of course FoodStream is happy to help!)