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The most experienced judge frequently cannot tell from visual appearance the difference between what is fake and what is genuine, but once in operation the performance of the bearing can soon establish the truth.
Fake bearings may perform poorly and fail early in the modern day engineering environment, where machinery is designed to run more efficiently at higher speeds and loads. However, by dealing through unauthorised channels, customers run the risk that the products they purchase are merely reworked, second-hand or poor quality imitations of branded components in ‘look-alike’ boxes.
Even where a counterfeit bearing is reworked from a decent original product, the subsequent handling, repackaging and polishing work of the counterfeiters, typically carried out in unclean and unsafe environments, will dramatically reduce the quality.
Counterfeiting affects all major bearing manufacturers and SKF is participating with leading brands to fight the spread of counterfeit bearings. These products may look like the genuine article and will likely be offered at a similar price to avoid arousing suspicion, often with very short lead times.
Considering the reputation of genuine SKF bearings for long life and robust performance, the tell-tale signs of the fake bearing are often embarrassingly clear. For instance, a raid that resulted in the seizure of tonnes of fake SKF bearings in Istanbul was set in motion after a local SKF branch received a complaint about a supposedly SKF-marked bearing that failed prematurely less than 36 hours after it was put in to service. The unexpected stoppage of machinery is one of the most tangible aspects of counterfeits, the dirty trade, ethics and safety concerns aside.
Through the World Bearing Association (WBA), which is currently investing in a global information campaign to combat counterfeiting, SKF and other bearing manufacturers are fighting together to stamp out the spread of fake products.
In its efforts to protect customers and end-users of bearing products, SKF and the other premium manufacturers actively assist local law-enforcement authorities around the world to identify illegal merchandise and its handlers; enabling the authorities to carry out raids and, if necessary, close down businesses, cutting off the circulation of the counterfeit trade.
Counterfeit products are a problem in all geographical markets and the best way to safeguard authenticity is to buy from authorised distributors. Genuine SKF products, such as its latest SKF Explorer bearings, are produced to the highest standards, with technically advanced materials that have been tried and tested under the most demanding conditions.
Rather than an imitation that could bring machinery to a standstill soon after installation, a genuine SKF bearing will deliver a long, trouble-free operating life, low through-life costs and complete peace of mind.
Learn more about the fight against fakes and the World Bearing Association here