Swedish bearing manufacturers SKF recently seized and destroyed 1.5 tons of know-off bearings with a export destination in Europe and the problem is world-wide: 15 tons of counterfeit bearings were seized in a port in Europe.
Passing off fakes is both damaging for manufacturers and dangerous for end users. SKF’s brand protection manager Saim Manto said, ‘Counterfeit industrial products are present in all markets across the globe and we see cases from all sectors, from power generation to high-performance motorcycles. We have had cases in all markets around the world.’
Bogus NGK spark plugs are also finding their way into shops, although at a lesser level. ‘Most of the problems are in Japan,’ said a representative from NGK’s technical department. ‘People should be aware that just because an NGK product has different packaging, it’s not necessarily an inferior product. We’re a global company and package our products for various world markets. If you buy a product packaged for the Indian market, for instance, it doesn’t mean it’s inferior. You should look for a lot number on the hex and a part number on the collar and bear in mind that manufacturer OE fitment plugs may not always carry a part number.’
He was at pains to reassure buyers that fake NGK spark plugs in Thailand are less of a problem than they are. ‘Fakes tend to be blindingly obvious in terms of finish and quality. And be aware that counterfeiters tend to stick to the cheaper end of the market where bogus manufacture is easier.’
With hard-earned reputations for quality at stake and the very real risk of damage to both machinery and riders, firms are trying to minimize risks.
‘Counterfeit bearings are a major concern for customers in Southeast Asia,’ said one of the managers of SKF. ‘They are being cheated financially, risk damage to their machinery and may be liable to third party damages. We always recommend that customers source their bearings from SKF authorized distributors.’
There is an SKF Authenticate App, which cam be downloaded ‘free’ from Apple App Store or Google Play.