Fake or counterfeit products are an enormous problem in almost every market and unfortunately this issue extends far into the industrial market, particularly with bearings. With the rise of advanced technology in third world countries, it’s becoming easier to illegally replicate a reputable manufacturer’s product, making it nearly impossible to distinguish between the fake and genuine brand of bearing. Consumers are unwittingly being conned into buying inferior products and the results can be disastrous.
Consider that roller bearings are used in nearly every industrial machine, vehicle, machine tool, aircraft, train, medical apparatus… the list is endless. Almost every industrial application that uses bearings requires safety standards of the highest level and this is where the true cost of using counterfeit bearings becomes painfully clear. While they may be difficult to identify, fake bearings will always be made from substandard materials, putting operators, machinery and companies at risk.
There have been numerous documented cases of counterfeit bearings being the cause of major machine failures, factory damage, injuries, expensive plant downtime and the loss of product guarantees. These are serious risks that are often being taken by completely unsuspecting buyers. Unfortunately, the counterfeit industry is a dangerously big business that preys easily on small-to-medium enterprises under pressure to perform under tight deadlines. In these situations, the initial cost is always an overriding factor, regardless of the long-term risks and loss of revenue during the inevitable future downtime.
So, what is the solution? How do end-users protect themselves and their customers? The answer is simple: only ever purchase your bearings from authorised distributors of trusted manufacturing brands. Do your research and get educated. Always make sure your purchasing source is reliable and if you suspect that it’s not, inform the relevant manufacturer immediately. Raising awareness is the first step towards ending the plague of counterfeit products in the market.
Genuine manufacturers are also doing their bit to protect consumers and flush out the counterfeit sources. In 2017, SKF, a leading bearing and seal manufacturing company founded in Sweden, destroyed 15 tons of confiscated counterfeit bearings valued at over one million euros. NSK, the largest global manufacturer of bearings in Japan, has partnered with the World Bearing Association (WBA) to form the Anti-Counterfeiting Committee. Bearing Centre works closely with these two brands and is proud to be an authorised distributor of their quality products.