Downtime, consequential damage, reduced lifespan, poor performance and safety are just some of the dangers of using counterfeit bearings, which are increasingly prevalent across South African industry, warns Andrew Altree, Product Manager at leading supplier Bearings International (BI). Major bearing brands distributed by BI included are FAG and INA.

“Installers and suppliers of these counterfeit products could face legal action and be held liable criminally and/or financially. Here one has to bear in mind that claims for recourse against the suppliers of counterfeits are almost futile,” he points out.

Customers sometimes think they can nab genuine parts in a ‘closing’ sale, without realising that they might just have acquired counterfeits in the search for a quick bargain. If they are indeed aware of the fact that they are buying counterfeits, the main motivation seems to be buying good quality at a reduced price. 

Another factor is availability, which is normally subject to lead times due to the complex processes involved in bearing manufacturing.

While counterfeit bearings seem to originate mainly from China, they are not limited to this source, stresses Andrew. “We know that counterfeits are brought to market using many ways to veil the real origin of the goods. These counterfeits are normally readily available and actively marketed by the counterfeiters. 

“As far as we know, the production standards in most cases are far lower than the original products. The counterfeiters do not care whether or not the product meets all technical requirements.”

Counterfeits are not covered by any warranty offered by the brand owner, warns Andrew. This negatively impacts service contracts as anticipated, as the life expectancy will not be achieved, resulting in continuous downtime and associated costs. In addition, there are severe negative health and safety implications in all applications when installing counterfeit bearings.

Authorised distributors such as BI are trained to support customers with regard to their complete bearing requirements, from technical information to determining the best bearing for a particular application, as well as being able to handle the products in the correct manner, such as storage conditions. This invariably means that bearings supplied via authorised distributors are fully supported technically and guaranteed by both the authorised distributor and brand owner.

BI is working closely with brand owners with regard to authentication services and providing accurate information. If any customer suspects that they have received counterfeits, they are requested to get in touch with the relevant brand protection team of the brand owner. Additional information in this regard can be obtained from BI itself.

For example, any suspected counterfeit FAG and INA bearings can be reported at Customers can also download the Schaeffler OrginCheck App for free in order to authenticate any Schaeffler products or to contact specialised experts for advice.

Phone: (011) 899-0000