In the counterfeit world the most popular products are always imitated. New product launches /releases are gold mines for counterfeit manufacturers. The latest and greatest brand names and ads are usually copied.
In the bearing world it’s more common to see smaller size bearings mass produced. It’s easier for counterfeiters to produce large volumes and mark them with various brand names to sell through multiple channels. However, counterfeiters have also taken their chances with large high dollar materials where a larger profit can be made. What bearings have in common with other counterfeit goods is that you DO NOT get what you pay for. Not only is the quality compromised but so is the performance.
Recently a large 26” OD spherical roller bearing weighing 1,259 lbs shipped from China bound for Brazil. The counterfeiter had marked the bearing as a newer high performance series bearing by the manufacturer they were claiming to be. The bearing was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CPB”). They inspected the shipment and had several suspicions with both the bearing markings and labeling. Due to the established relationships between the CBP and the WBA Anti-counterfeiting team, the CBP contacted the manufacturer and inquired about the suspect bearing. Images of the bearing markings and suspect labeling/packaging were sent for review to the claimed manufacturer.
After reviewing several images, the manufacturer determined that the roller bearing was in fact counterfeit. The bearing was etched and labeled as a high performance series in which the manufacturer did not produce in that size. Additionally, the number of rollers, along with their shape and size, was inaccurate. All of these issues together confirmed suspicion that the product should absolutely remain detained and not continue the voyage to its final destination.
Had the part not been scrutinized by the CBP, it would have shipped to the end-user and potentially been installed into a sugar mill gearbox in Brazil. If installed into the application, major bearing damage could have occurred shutting down operations, incurring tremendous maintenance and downtime cost, or in the worst case could have caused injury to plant personnel. Additionally, due to the fact that the bearing was detained, the cost of the bearing and the bearing itself was a loss for the end-user.
The large single roller bearing cost is considereable, sometimes nearing 6 figures this represents a rather large investment for the mill to make. There was potential for the cost to be exponentially higher had the bearing been installed and failed, causing downtime and possible damage to other plant equipment.
As successful as counterfeit manufacturers may be at physical replication, there is no substitute for the technology, quality and performance of products from authentic manufacturers. It’s up to authorities and manufacturers to be vigilant in monitoring and inspecting any potential risk. End users must also always purchase from authorized channels. Typically, a listing of authorized distributors can be found on the manufacturer’s website. Even with purchases through authorized channels, end users should always alert authorities or manufacturers if they suspect they have products that are not authentic.