Bearings are at the heart of industry and, like many mass-produced components, they are continually subject to copying and counterfeiting. For several years now, we have observed increasingly sophisticated counterfeit techniques, making it virtually impossible for the untrained eye to distinguish fake parts. All sizes of faked bearings are appearing, particularly on the spare parts market, in countries where known cases used to be few and far between. All manufacturers are affected.
What are the risks of counterfeit?
The issues involved in the fight against counterfeit are crucial, the prime one being safety: that of aircraft, car or train passengers, but also that of employees in a plant using faked bearings that make machines less precise, unreliable and prone to failure at any time.
The financial implications arising from such failures or breakages and the related issues of reputation must also be considered.
How to fight against counterfeits?
To fight this scourge, bearing manufacturers are conducting a fight on several fronts:
- Close collaboration with customs: awareness-raising and training programmes are provided for customs officers to help them better identify OEM bearings by their packaging, packing methods and markings, as well as their official shipping documents, etc.
- Raising the awareness of distributors and end users:
- communication campaigns (poster campaigns to inform customers about the dangers of counterfeiting, awareness-raising booklets for distributors);
- briefings with well-known distributors to alert them and avoid them being victim of counterfeits
- showcasing of official sources and distribution channels.
- Markings and technological advances: marking of parts and packaging, labels that are changed on a regular basis, the use of holograms to make copies increasingly difficult, constant innovation in order to develop products with performance beyond the capabilities of the counterfeiters.
- Collaborative work: all the world’s major bearing manufacturers belong to the World Bearing Association (WBA) which runs a great many awareness-raising and training campaigns in countries where there is a high risk of counterfeit products.
Some key figures about counterfeit
- 3,500 industrial accidents a year due to counterfeit products
- 4.5 billion euros in economic damage as a result of counterfeits within the industry every year
- 200,000 jobs destroyed throughout the world every year because of counterfeiting, including nearly 40,000 in France according to the OECD (April 2016)