Knockoffs masquerading as genuine branded parts can compromise performance and safety.
by John Wallace
March 28, 2019

In the world of industrial manufacturing, it is no exaggeration to say that the air- operated double-diaphragm (AODD) pumping principle, which was invented in 1955, has been a godsend. Once the capabilities of AODD pumps were established, they became a popular technology for operators in numerous industries. Concurrently, the AODD’s success opened the door for competitors to flock to the market and attempt to emulate, or improve upon, the original design.

There is nothing wrong with legitimate competition, with good-faith efforts made to advance technology and satisfy the best interests of the user. Competition can also serve as the catalyst that drives the pursuit of even greater product innovation.

On the other hand, illegitimate competition creates cause for concern.

In recent years, a number of “knockoff” AODD-pump companies have entered the market. These companies are pirating pump components and accessories and selling them to unsuspecting customers as genuine branded parts. This report will offer a “let the buyer beware” look at how these companies are attempting to capitalize on the name and reputation of established AODD-pump manufacturers, and how users can identify a pirated part and avoid the potentially costly mistake of purchasing and using them.

Piraters try to “trick” users by mimicking the brand or referencing specific part namesImages 1, 2 & 3. Piraters try to “trick” users by mimicking the brand or referencing specific part names, numbers and performance curves. (Images courtesy of Wilden)

Know the Pump Parts

The true genius of the AODD-pump design is the machine’s simplicity of operation. Despite that, AODD pumps require a series of parts and components to work in perfect harmony— and meet well-established standards for operation—for the pump to perform as expected.

The list of AODD-pump parts that the user must be familiar with include the pump body (metal or plastic), diaphragms, pistons, valve balls, valve seats, valve seat O-rings and the air distribution system (ADS). Within the ADS, or air motor, the center block, air valve and air control spool are the most significant. However, as the design of AODD pumps has matured, and the list of industries in which they are used has expanded, it is no longer possible to just order, for instance, a “diaphragm.”

Different designs and materials of construction have increased the available options for the user. This has also increased the complexity of the ordering and supply process. The result is that AODD pump users must be finely tuned to the needs of their machines—increasing the importance in using genuine parts when outfitting pumps.

As mentioned, AODD pumps operate at peak performance when an OEM or approved components are used. Failure to use the proper components can result in:

  • Voided warranty: If the pump fails and is found to be outfitted with a knockoff part rather than a genuine OEM part, the warranty can be voided. This can result in the user footing the bill for any repairs or the purchase of a new pump.
  • Lower flow rates: Satisfying demanding production schedules is a front-of-mind concern for all manufacturers and components that may not meet strict design standards will not perform as expected. This can mean minimized production rates, along with higher operational costs that are brought on by the need for increased operational time.
  • More frequent breakdowns: Again, pirated parts are not subject to OEM quality-control standards and will be more susceptible to breakdowns that can lead to increased downtime, maintenance costs and repair costs.
  • Reduced operational safety: Using a pirated part can jeopardize chemical compatibility and worker safety. A user cannot be sure what they are getting if it is not a genuine part—and they should not be willing to take that risk.
counterfeit curvewilder curveImages 4 & 5. Some counterfeiters will “cut and paste” an OEM’s manual graphics into their own installation, operation and maintenance (IOM) manual.

Know the Warning Signs

Unfortunately, the entry of pirated parts into the AODD- pump market has become a fact of life. While these parts may try to capitalize on the reputation of the OEM, they are unable to deliver OEM-level performance. Knowing that, these suppliers attempt to “trick” users by mimicking the brand or referencing specific part names, numbers and performance curves. There are a number of ways, though, that these pirated parts can be recognized: