21 June, 2018

Only buy bearings from a reliable source

27 March, 2018

The best way for buyers to protect themselves and their customers from counterfeit bearings is purchasing only from a reliable source – such as direct from the manufacturer or through a certified distributor, says Martin Ryan, industrial distribution director for Schaeffler UK.


Counterfeit products are a frequent cause of personal injury and material damage to vehicles and industrial plants. According to a study published by the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce), the annual economic and social costs resulting from this amounts to USD 1.7 billion worldwide.

The Internet has opened up more opportunities (and risks) for purchasers to buy bearings manufactured in India, the Far East and Africa but sold through non-certified traders across the world, including a growing number of European outlets.

How do purchasers of bearings know that the products they are buying are genuine and will perform as the product datasheet states? Most don’t have to worry because they purchase these products either direct from the bearings manufacturer or via a certified distributor. This method guarantees that any technical problems with the product can be resolved quickly and efficiently.

Potential hidden costs

So why do companies still continue to purchase counterfeit bearings? Cost is almost certainly the overriding factor here. However, although the offer price for the bearings may initially look attractive, buyers must ask themselves what the potential hidden costs are in terms of product liability and credibility with their customers if the product turns out to be counterfeit and things inevitably start to go wrong. These could, for example, be critical bearings on high value machinery in a manufacturing plant. The buyer therefore needs to take into account the cost of any production downtime if the bearing fails early.

In addition to lost sales and significant loss of image through inferior-quality goods that may affect future business, there have been enormous costs arising from the investigation, seizure and professional disposal of counterfeit bearings. The disposal requires tight security, as only fully destroying the counterfeits will eliminate the danger for the consumer.

But the damage affects not only those companies that produce brand-name goods and invest heavily in research, development and quality assurance. It also affects those companies that install these components. Rolling bearings are used in virtually every piece of rotating plant and safety-critical machinery and vehicles, from machine tools, wind turbines and X-ray apparatus, through to automotive, aircraft and rail vehicles.

Schaeffler increasingly works with customs authorities to fight product piracy. Customs officials typically review incoming shipments to ensure they fulfil legal requirements and review whether any trademark infringements have occurred. In China, for example, both imported and exported goods are inspected. This cooperation is important in order to effectively prevent counterfeit goods from reaching the international market in the most effective way possible.




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