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Protecting us from rogue pump imports

Peter Reynolds, Managing Director of Grundfos Pumps Ltd and President of the British Pump Manufacturers Association (BPMA) says it is incumbent upon us all to ensure the provenance of any pump systems that we specify or buy.

Our final exit from the EU is still some time away and there are many questions that still need to be addressed. A key factor in the success of the ‘vote to leave’ camp was that voters thought that this would give us the ability to control our borders better. This heightened protection is perceived as the opportunity to control immigration – but this factor is only one small element within the bigger, border control picture.

Take pumps for example, they may not be the first things you think of as a target for non-compliance issues. However, pump specialists in the UK who are part of the industry pressure group, the BPMA, have been in dialogue for over three years about such imports with the National Measurement Regulatory Office (NMRO) who are the responsible UK Market Surveillance Authority.

In recent years, market surveillance has been a key element in terms of delivering a fair and efficient EU internal market; their role ensures that products placed on the market comply with EU regulations without posing any safety or environmental threats for users and the public. All of this was to ensure a level playing field/fair competition on the market as well as safeguarding the coherence of the European regulatory framework, the consistency of which depends on effective enforcement.

Illegal pump imports
In the UK, the responsibility for protecting us from non-compliant imports falls to the National Measurement and Regulation Office whose role is to simplify technical regulation for the benefit of British business. The BPMA approached them with growing evidence relating to the presence of illegal pump imports entering the UK from other countries, especially Asia in 2013. The BPMA, supported by CEOs from prominent member companies, met with the then Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO) in their role of UK Market Surveillance Authority to encourage them to take appropriate action.

To date, despite a variety of approaches both directly and indirectly to the NMRO, the situation remains unchanged with no specific plan to remove illegal products from the market, indeed there would appear to be no cohesive methodology to clearly identify rogue imports.

Safety threat
There are many concerns regarding these non-compliant products being available within our market as they have the capacity to cost bona fide companies millions of pounds in lost revenue, thus placing jobs and hard-earned reputations at risk. Another area of real concern relates to their safety as without proper testing they could present a safety risk.

The BPMA will continue to seek action and is currently approaching key figures within the newly formed Government to engage them in this debate.

Market surveillance is likely to come under increasing scrutiny. We need a plan to protect our industries, reputations and borders from the unscrupulous exploitation by companies to whom standards are irrelevant. This stance may not be as headline-grabbing as stopping people at our border crossings, but has the potential to make a fundamentally more significant difference.

Protect our borders
On the face of it, pumps may not seem to be an obvious area of concern. However, their importance is evident − not only maintaining internal ambient temperatures, but also keeping the wheels of industry turning, delivering sufficient clean water to where it is needed and removing wastewater from where it is not. Protecting us from rogue pump imports is only one factor within this Brexit bigger picture. However, if we at the BPMA were unsuccessful before the vote, how can we ensure that we are protecting our borders successfully in the future?

We should all be more responsible for the areas that we can influence i.e. ensuring any the provenance of any pump systems that we are specifying or purchasing. The BPMA is committed to bring pressure to bear on all the agencies charged with maintaining standards for the greater good, but we need the support network to function to ensure that we are ready to take advantage of all the new opportunities that await us.