As a bearing manufacturer, INA FAG is particularly concerned with the influx of inferior counterfeit bearings into the UK market place from the Middle East and Asia.
Rolling bearings are safety critical products. Cheap counterfeits are often made of inferior materials instead of high-grade steel and lubricants. The anticipated bearing performance is affected as cheap bearings often fail shortly after the running-in stage. However, the consequences can be much worse, including total machine failure and safety risks.
Only when they have passed a series of extensive tests and quality inspections are INA and FAG bearings for cars, trains, aircraft or machinery introduced to the market.
Cheap counterfeits have not undergone these thorough inspections. They can be identified through poor quality or inaccuracies in packaging, while 'real' copies, those that look exactly like the original, are more difficult to identify. Problems with these forgeries are more serious, because the raceways may not have been hardened, there may be no protection against corrosion, seals and lubricant may not serve their purpose or standard steel may have been used instead of the necessary high-nitride special steel. Customers should pay particular attention to the stamping and should compare the bearing's catalogue number.
The increasing incidence of counterfeit goods and forgeries coming into the UK is a major concern of the members of the Ball and Roller Bearing Manufacturers Association.
At the next Council meeting I will propose a joint statement which we will use to lobby the UK Government to look more closely at the problem and to take the necessary steps to tackle the issue with the offending countries.
The problem lies in the rolling bearing bazaars in places such as Damascus, Dubai or Bombay, where junk and cheap forgeries are sold after being produced in 'flying factories'. This refers to the manufacturers being in a position to re-open at a new address after being closed down by the state authorities.
We are currently taking court action against illegal dealers who have sold counterfeit FAG bearings to one of our regular customers. The forgery was uncovered when the customer complained to their normal distributor about faults with several bearing types. When these bearings were sent to us, a closer examination found that the bearings were forgeries. There were inaccuracies with the packaging date, the raceways were poorly ground and the bearings had unclean punch marks instead of the usual clear laser etching. Our inspectors also found the bearings did not have any lubrication grooves in the outer ring.
We strongly recommend that customers use authorized distribution channels or deal directly with the INA FAG sales company to ensure products are legitimate and bring the highest quality and guaranteed safety.
Managing DirectorINA FAG, Sutton Coldfield