A raid, led by members of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards authority alongside staff from SKF's Brand Protection Team, has resulted in the seizure of counterfeit bearings which otherwise could have been sold on to unsuspecting industrial customers and end-users. Several thousands of bearings, of more than 170 different types and sizes were seized, with an estimated total weight of 1.5tons. A wide range of products was seized, including items used in automotive applications as well as industrial machinery.
During the raid, SKF learned that counterfeit goods had been sold on to many customers in the UK by the non-authorised distributor. Bearings from other brands, allegedly sourced from the same suppliers as the counterfeit SKF products, are also suspected to be non-genuine.
Every year, SKF's Brand Protection Team participates in more than 100 raids against retailers, distributors and manufacturers of counterfeit products across all continents.
Saim Manto, Brand Protection Manager, SKF Group Brand Protection, says: “Counterfeit industrial products are present in all markets across the globe and we see cases from across all sectors, from power generation to high-performance motorbikes. Just this year, in Europe alone, we have pursued counterfeit cases in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland.”
The financial damage to dealers resulting from the sale of counterfeit products is difficult to quantify. However, lost sales and reputational damage are very likely outcomes for those dealers who are involved in this illegal trade.
Paul Dysiewicz, SKF’s Engineering Manager, says: “Counterfeit industrial products like bearings are still a major concern for our UK customers who purchase them in good faith, believing them to be the genuine article. Customers who accidentally purchase counterfeit products are being cheated financially, risk damage to their machinery and incur expensive downtime as a result. They may also be liable to third party damages. We always recommend that, in order to safeguard authenticity, customers carefully select their supplier and always source their SKF bearings from trusted, authorised distributors.”
SKF has made significant efforts to increase market awareness of the existence of counterfeit bearings and the related risks for users. Distinguishing a counterfeit bearing from an authentic SKF bearing often requires expertise. Customers that suspect they might have been sold counterfeit products should use the SKF Authenticate app for smartphones to take and send photos of suspect products directly to SKF for verification. The app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play. They can also email pictures of the suspected bearings to .
All premium brands are affected by counterfeit products. SKF, along with other bearing manufacturers affected by counterfeiting, are working to fight against this problem and have launched a counterfeit awareness campaign through the umbrella organisation, World Bearing Association (WBA). The campaign aims to make customers aware of the risks and problems with counterfeits. More information can be found at www.stopfakebearings.com.
More information on SKF’s brand protection work can be found here.