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Product Piracy – Counterfeit Bearings

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Product Piracy – Counterfeit Bearings

The world revolves on bearings. They are found in almost everything: cars, trains, planes, medical equipment, industrial machinery, even our washing machines. The demand for bearings is high, so it’s easy to see why the bearing industry is one of the hardest hit by product piracy.

Sometimes bearings are badly refurbished originals, no longer meeting quality standards, sometimes they are just fake! Tons of low-quality bearings are labelled with false brand markings to justify a higher price. They look like, and are marketed as, genuine, premium brand products. Even the packaging is skilfully imitated. So, let’s face it: fake bearings are difficult to detect. They will not be scratched, rusty or dirty. They won’t necessarily even be cheaper. But still, beware of those “too good to be true” prices that are below market value and have unusual availability.

These fakes can fail within hours of fitting, putting machinery productivity and human lives at risk. This is demonstrated by Interpol who have stated that “we lose 10 people every day due to motor accidents because of vehicles that fail to break due to fakes bearings.”

Measures being taken

It may be near impossible to spot counterfeit’s, but there are measures you can take. Using apps such as The World Bearing Association (WBA) have also released their WBA Bearing Authentication app. The app covers a range of premium brands such as Koyo, Nachi, NTN, NSK.

NTN use protective measures on some of their bearings to try and eliminate counterfeiting. They have phone apps (NTN Authenti bear) that can be used to verify the integrity of the supply chain. Unfortunately, it is very easy to defeat these mechanisms as they consist of a QR code and a series of numbers. Copying this data and a hologram circumvents this protection. To add to the confusion, it should also be pointed out that a lot of genuine products from NTN and others do not have the up-to-date authentication markings.

To help prevent any counterfeiting issues occurring, please rest assured that here at SBL we only purchase directly from bearing manufactures or from authorised bearing distributors. Please contact the team and let us know how we can help you today on 01793 615171 or email us at