Don't want counterfeit ball bearings? Know your supplier

July 7, 2005
Most bearing distributors are conscientious and fairly represent their vendors' products.

Don't want counterfeit ball bearings?
Know your supplier

Augustine Sperrazza
CEO Pacamor Kubar
Bearings Troy, N.Y.

Honest mistakes spec'ing bearings happen occasionally and are generally remedied by the responsible party. However, some unscrupulous distributors and dealers blatantly offer counterfeit-bearing products as either the exact part from an approved manufacturer or an equivalent.

For example, one report suggests counterfeit versions of reputable bearing brands are readily available and overrunning the engine-bearings market in Nigeria, Africa. A dozen raids conducted over the course of a single week last fall targeted counterfeit-bearing resellers and distributors operating in and around New Delhi, India. A single raid netted over $655,000 in materials and marking equipment. One bearing manufacturer claimed 30% of its product sold in India was counterfeit, reports e-Bearing News. The problem of counterfeit bearings has become so widespread that the Bearing Conference last year highlighted the topic at its annual meeting.

Counterfeit bearings can enter the supply chain as product is transferred and shipped among distributors, resellers, importers, exporters, and so on. Fraudulent labels are easily made and packaging can be removed or reproduced.

Many counterfeit bearings are of inferior quality compared to the genuine products. Injuries, shorter product life, noise, damage to machinery, and harm to a company's quality image, all can result from bearings that don't perform to spec. Production delays can sap resources and result in design reviews, fees, lost sales and other costs. Ultimately, end users contact what they believe is the bearing manufacturer for resolution when, in most cases, the problem is a substituted part that a distributor misrepresented.

Maintenance and repair technicians often are the unwitting victims of counterfeit bearings. Typically this happens when buyers shop strictly on price and don't question why one distributor has the same product for a much cheaper price than another. The old adage, "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is," aptly applies to suspiciously low bearing prices. The message here is, work only with reputable dealers or directly with bearing manufacturers. That way bearing users can be confident they are receiving OEM-certified product.

We believe it is everyone's responsibility to help stop counterfeit bearings from entering the marketplace. By reducing the amount of counterfeit bearings, quality is maintained, product failures are prevented, and competition among precision bearing manufacturers remains healthy.

Pacamor Kubar Bearings ( a maker of precision miniature and instrument bearings.

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