Italy seizes counterfeit bearings from China

The authorities in Italy have intercepted 370kg of counterfeit bearings from China that could be hazardous if installed into machinery.

The 4,170 bearings were seized by the Agenzia delle Dogane e Monopoli (ADM) and infringed on the trademarks of two unidentified manufacturers, which confirmed they were counterfeit after analysing samples.

Bearings are components that make machinery work efficiently and at high speeds, and are critical for industries such as automobile, aviation and construction.

The presence of counterfeits can cause serious damage to the associated machinery and as bearings are used in automotive components, for example, failures can place the public at risk of life-threatening situations.

According to estimates by one leading manufacturer – Sweden's SKF Group - around 2.5 per cent of the global bearings market is counterfeit, with the vast majority coming out of Asia, and predominantly China.

Sometimes they are badly refurbished originals no longer meeting quality standards, and sometimes they are simply fake – but labelled with false brand markings to justify a higher price.

The World Bearings Association (WBA) has launched a smartphone app that can be used to scan QR codes on bearing packaging to check if they are legitimate.

The app can be used on SKF products as well as other manufacturers like TJEKT (Koyo), NACHI, NTN, NSK, Schaeffler and Timken, and has three readouts: either the code is correct and current, correct by previously scanned numerous times, which can be a warning signal, or unknown and therefore likely to be fake.

The operation was prompted by intelligence from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), which said in a statement that “the potential threat to everyone’s safety posed by counterfeit bearings is quite apparent.”

Around 23,000 counterfeit NSK packages and labels were recently discovered in Hebei Province, China, while a follow-up raid at another factory owned by the same offender revealed over 90,000 counterfeit bearing boxes and 10 imitation printing plates covering four major bearing companies, including NSK.

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