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Things to look for when Importing Moving Heads


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Firstly, a bit of background. I'm currently looking at importing a few lower cost moving heads directly from China, I've looked around t'internet and have found a company that I'm happy to deal with and have read good things about.


I'm already aware of the fact that there will be a long lead time on parts and the distinct lack of local technical support for the units, I have been offered free parts on 3-5day airmail for the first 12 months with a 5 year guarantee on spares availability afterwards (all in writing). The company have been operating for 10 years and appear to have technical knowledge on staff instead of just having bought in designs and gone into manufacturing and the units are CE marked.


I've just been wondering about what I should be asking about the units in terms of construction and also in terms of weakness in design. (I'm aware that the answers won't be specific to the units)


From reading through threads on here about faults with units, it would appear that the location of the wiring loom and how it is run between the base and the yolk can be important as is the operating temperature of the unit's internals.


Is there anything else I should be looking for (or have missed)?


Many Thanks



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Be aware that you will struggle to enforce this if they do change their minds. You would probably (IANAL) have to take them to court in China if the need arose!

Cheers for the reply Tom, I had a hunch that this would be the case but I wasn't too sure. I am more hoping that this agreement will serve as a show of good faith anyway but I will be making sure that I purchase a few of the generic (steppers and the likes) parts for swapping out when the need arises.



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I assume that the units will be designed to take 240 (230)V? I don't know what voltage china pumps out of its walls but if the units were designed for 110V then if you just changed the plugs then something might go pop...



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I'm currently looking at importing a few lower cost moving heads directly from China,
I can't be the first to think it, and doubt the last to ask...

(Cold water time)




What do you want to do with these imports?

Is it for your own personal use, or are you expecting to use them for hire to others (because trust me you'll be unlikely to make back even the budget cost back any time soon...)?

Is it for disco stuff (in which case you MIGHT be OK, or something more serious for theatre or such like?


Sorry, josh, but these questions keep coming up time and again, and the answers are always the same....

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Firstly: voltage on Chinese Mainland is 220v 50Hz. Taiwan is 110v 60Hz:




When you say "China" which part of China?


So, do you have a spec which states the voltage these imports will work with...reliably?


IF things go t!ts up can you be absolutely certain you will get the parts, from the manufacturer, and, are you competent to service/repair them yourself, do the Pat testing, etc etc. should you be unwise enough to hire them out. Unwise as in if a unit becomes U/S have you enough movers to replace the original hire unit asap?


Remember reputation is very important and in the coming years will probably be more important than ever.


"All in writing"... suggest you have a natter with someone who specialises in international litigation first...which won't be cheap 'cos said person is going to be a professional.


This might be cheaper tho' than having a bunch of movers which you can't get the parts for and the voltage requirements are not "quite" right for UK fluctuation...might even void any warranty you got in the first place...and then there's your loss of reputation...


Lastly, our venue and local amdram, on occasion, hire kit from from a small outfit, the owner of which took a punt on some cheapo movers, in exactly the way you are proposing...and hired them out...virtually all the hire units came back with wiring faults, as in the connectors (choc boxes) were not man enough for the job.


On examination of all his units he found the very first few he bought were well(ish) made...the subsequent units from the same place were built to a lower spec component wise. He found his clients reasonably understanding at first...but not so after the second unit "broke".


You asked for advice? Forget the entire deal. If you must buy these units go to a UK dealer who can offer you some kind of warranty, with a repair/service deal.


In earlier posts you were asked about how you might wish to use them...slightly tongue in cheek...you could be looking at very expensive, albeit novel, door stops.


Lastly, and this may sound a bit brutal; you may have heard the phrase, "lamb to the slaughter"? Seeing as your profile claims you are 18 years of age, this saying seems quite apt.

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Just an idea, maybe if you say what company you're ordering from, people can give you their experiences of the companies products... if they've been around 10 years I'd be very surprised if someone hasn't used some of their products already and could give you a hands on review!
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On one of the DJ forums one business member bought some. First a pallet of four - perfect working and stunning price. He took orders from his forum mates and ordered a container full. These were different from each other and all different from the samples, and most of them didn't work properly.


There is NO real warranty buying from China, so he lost all the money which hit him BADLY. also he lost loads of friends who had prepaid.


Altogether a BAD idea.


Don't forget the customs duties that this shipment will create.


IF you buy these and they are rubbish, can you stand the cost of them, their freight, and their import duty and VAT -without killing your business?

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I dont think that this is very good idea, and would generally agree with the negative thoughts of others.

The unfortunate experience of the person who purchased a load of poor movers is sadly very common.

I know of a very similar case, concerning not moving lights, but microwave ovens, detailed disscussion of which does does not belong here, but many were defective and blatantly dangerous.

No matter what you may have in writing, there is effectively no consumer protection when buying from china.


As others post, the nominal voltage in china, and many other places is 220, and the equipment will probably be designed for 220 and have a short life on our supply which is still 240 in practice. A good supplier will be pleased to apply a "240 volt" sticker for you, along with the "CE" mark and any other approvals.

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Another serious point here is the hidden costs in shipping including duty on the total cost of the units and shipping costs. Unless you have a very good long term deal with a major shipper or freight forwarder (which I doubt) this can add up to a lot more than you may realise. This will also be payable on spare parts so even if they did send you spare parts for free they would have to issue commercial invoices and you would still have to pay duty on them.


I import spare parts for Moving heads from the US all the time and the shipping costs can become quite high, especially on complete units as you will only get 4-8 on a pallet and at that point for many freight forwarders you will also need a forklift as their H&S regs will not allow them to be unloaded otherwise.


I think that overall you would be best looking at all the comments above and seriously thinking twice about this deal, the chances are you will end up spending a lot more money than you realise and probably end up never really making it back.

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Importing from China is more or less the same as importing from any new company anywhere in the world; unless you have previous experience or knowledge of that firm you are taking a gamble. As Adam says, anyone can glue any labels they like, send excellent samples and provide superb tech specs and then send rubbish.


I have a friend who has dealt with Chinese companies for years on non-electrical goods, they have been really good value for money, willing to raise their game to European standards and are as trustworthy as the best in the UK.


Big BUT! He goes there every three months, inspects production lines, trains their technicians and advises on acceptable/legal standards of manufacture. He has built up reliability of supply and quality control to such an extent that major UK companies have bought from him though it took him a couple of years to prove the gear was OK.


Like everything else there is no quickfix and Chinese companies are as good and as bad as anywhere else. However buying anything sight unseen, even from the UK, is always a gamble and I only bet with money I can throw away.

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I've been importing for about 3 years now, and the snag is simply that similar to reading Blue Room posts - you might think you're talking to somebody representing a huge factory, or a private individual with a shed and a few tools.


I have given up on lighting. Initial samples I'm pretty certain, are made by hand when they get the order, by somebody who does care. However, timescale is long - they need to source component assemblies from others, and can't do it without your money, then they put it all together and send it. They usually charge 5-10% extra for these samples. Once they then get your bigger order, they outsource the entire thing to people who have no idea what they're doing, but who just copy what they see. They have no idea what the components do, and won't spot simple basic faults.


The big Chinese factories are much, much more reliable - but these are also the ones who have minimum order quantities that require around 5 grand as a minimum order. These sources are not interested in small orders. The suppliers I've had good products on, sometimes take a hit on their samples just to convince you they're good. I've had some really good products from one company, but now they want real quantity, which I cannot do.


If you can afford to lose the money - go ahead. If you can't, walk away.


For info, somebody came through our venue with some Chinese movers called OBY, or was it OBI? They were bright, pretty good optically and not too noisy. I'd consider buying some of these.

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As an addendum, and considering the OP's still tender age, I suspect that when he says 'Import' I guess he means simply 'Buy' from China - which can obviously be two VERY different things ('Import' suggesting high multiple units).


And I'd further guess that it's not for any established and already busy 'business', rather being either personal use or local mates rates hires.


Don't get me wrong - there IS a lot of useful and reliable kit comes out of the far east - half (or more) of the CPC catalogue originates thereas does, probably, a good percentage of the goods in your home that you ostensibly bought here in the UK.

BUT the difference is that the UK company you buy from/through for those goods does what Kerry has described, and has a solid working relationship with the Chinese suppliers and can monitor their throughput with confidence.


Indeed, our own CPC rep, Chris Beesley, has recently come back from an offical China trip looking at just those aspects so will likely be along soon to comment...

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One of the things sometimes overlooked especially if you are considering reselling the items is the risk of infringments of other designs for example. If you act as a UK distributor of chinese lights and a european company decides one of your products has infringed on one of their designs, technologies or features, it will be you that they take to court, not the original equipment manufacturer. The same will go for you if a product is found to be unsafe or breaches some regulation.


I remind people of the MAD vs Terrelec case a few years ago where Terrelec were importing moving mirror scanners from Pearl River China (now a brand in their own right, but not really known then) and which bore a striking resemblance to some plastic-cased scanners that MAD were making in Leicester. MAD sued Terrelec (not Pearl River) and won in MAD's favour which meant existing stock from Terrelec was forfeited to MAD and Terrelec had to furnish a list of all known clients who had bought the units from Terrelec. It was well-documented in the trade press at the time.

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