Leading loading/unloading equipment specialist Thorworld Industries Ltd is supporting a European-wide initiative to raise awareness of the importance of market surveillance, to prevent non-compliant and potentially unsafe machinery entering the European market.
The new initiative (http://machinery-surveillance.eu) was launched at a conference in Brussels on 24th November 2011, hosted by the European Commission, at which Thorworld managing director John Meale chaired a discussion on Market Surveillance to Protect Innovation. The highly successful event was an unprecedented partnership between seven major European trade organisations, representing the construction, machine tools, weighing, agricultural machinery, plastics & rubber machinery industries, as well as Orgalime, the European Engineering Industries Association, and FEM the European Materials Handling Federation – www.fem-eur.com.
As John Meale explains, this is a vital issue designed to ensure a fair and level playing field for European manufacturers and peace of mind for customers.
“As consumers, we are all familiar with the concept of illegal goods that do not comply with regulations, and we are aware of the hard work done by the authorities to prevent such products from being sold.
“The aim of this conference was to address the question: why, if there is such robust market surveillance for consumer goods, is there not a corresponding level of protection for commercial equipment and machinery?
“Too often, market surveillance for materials handling equipment is reactive rather than preventative – which means that it is then too late for reputable suppliers who have been undercut by unscrupulous manufacturers, or for the workers who face injury or even death.
There is also a major problem of job losses within the European community as a result of non conforming products reaching the European marketplace, which are produced to much lower standards outside of Europe and hence are much cheaper to produce. If this situation is not addressed then many additional jobs will be lost in Europe.
“As a leading supplier of high quality loading/unloading equipment, including mobile yardramps, Thorworld takes pride in its commitment to safety and quality. Those values are at risk every time second-rate or unsafe goods come onto the market, so I was delighted to be asked to chair the panel on Market Surveillance To Protect Innovation at the Brussels conference.
John Meale reports that approximately 300 people attended the November event, representing the seven industry sectors above, plus customs officials, EU commissioners, parliamentarians and other relevant Government Agencies such as BSI.
A 10-point manifesto (www.machinery-surveillance.eu/page/manifesto) has now been launched, whose action points include ensuring the allocation of sufficient resources to control compliance of machinery entering the European market; better coordination and harmonisation of enforcement practices; and specialised training for customs officials to help them identify non-compliant products.
At the same time, a new web-based industry support platform has been introduced to assist market surveillance authorities, importers and users in checking the conformity of machines. Currently, what technical documentation exists on compliance with a wide range of regulatory requirements is scattered over various sources; the new website will provide a single-stop resource database, providing a focal point to improve market surveillance.
Thorworld is delighted with these initiatives, as John Meale explains: “Historically, efforts have been hindered by practical constraints which impede true co-operation across different nations within the EU. The measures discussed in Brussels – allied to the launch of the new database – will provide officials with a much better chance of catching non-compliant manufacturers.
“The growth of unregulated machinery affects both the profitability and reputation of legitimate manufacturers who work hard to ensure that their products are safe, of good quality, minimise waste and protect the environment.
“The steps now being taken in Brussels are a starting point in getting these messages out – but the onus is on all of us within the industry to keep shouting about the need for effective market surveillance.”
Tel: 01246 260982