Se­ri­ous safety risks and sig­nif­i­cant costs when coun­ter­feit fail­ures oc­cur

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - MATERIALS -

IT IS NO big news that coun­ter­feit goods are nearly al­ways in­fe­rior to the real deal. It is also no big news that most users of such items only ever find out the hard way, of­ten at great fi­nan­cial cost and some­times hor­ri­bly at hu­man cost.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Scha­ef­fler says coun­ter­feit prod­ucts are plac­ing vi­tal ma­chin­ery, plant and op­er­a­tions at risk in Aus­tralia and New Zealand, as they do not have the same qual­ity as­sur­ance and backup in the field as the gen­uine Scha­ef­fler- branded prod­uct.

Scha­ef­fler gen­uine bear­ings – which are cru­cial to ma­chin­ery and plant with ro­tat­ing or mov­ing parts in in­dus­tries such as bulk han­dling, min­ing, re­sources, man­u­fac­tur­ing, ma­te­ri­als han­dling, food and bev­er­age, oil and gas, power gen­er­a­tion, pri­mary in­dus­tries, rail and wind – com­ply with all rel­e­vant safety and qual­ity Stan­dards and are com­pre­hen­sively backed in the field by Scha­ef­fler’s own staff and net­work of dis­trib­u­tors.

“The best way for buy­ers to pro­tect them­selves and their cus­tomers from coun­ter­feit bear­ings is pur­chas­ing only from a re­li­able source – such as di­rect from the man­u­fac­turer or through a cer­ti­fied dis­trib­u­tor,” says Martin Grosvenor, In­dus­trial Projects and Ser­vices Man­ager, Scha­ef­fler Aus­tralia.

“Glob­ally, prod­uct coun­ter­feit­ing is on the in­crease. Not just in con­sumer goods such as mu­sic, film, home elec­tron­ics and de­signer cloth­ing, but also in in­dus­trial, safety- crit­i­cal prod­ucts such as bear­ings and seals,” he said.

Coun­ter­feit prod­ucts are a fre­quent cause of per­sonal in­jury and ma­te­rial dam­age to ve­hi­cles and in­dus­trial plants. Ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished by the ICC (In­ter­na­tional Cham­ber of Com­merce), the an­nual eco­nomic and so­cial costs re­sult­ing from this amounts to AUD 2.25 bil­lion world­wide (US 1.7 bil­lion).

“The In­ter­net has opened up more op­por­tu­ni­ties (and risks) for pur­chasers to buy bear­ings man­u­fac­tured in In­dia, the Far East and Africa but sold through non- cer­ti­fied traders across the world, in­clud­ing a grow­ing num­ber of Euro­pean out­lets.

“So how do pur­chasers of bear­ings know that the prod­ucts they are buy­ing are gen­uine and will per­form as the prod­uct datasheet states? Most don’t have to worry be­cause they pur­chase these prod­ucts ei­ther di­rect from the bear­ings man­u­fac­turer or via a cer­ti­fied dis­trib­u­tor. This method guar­an­tees that any tech­ni­cal prob­lems with the prod­uct can be re­solved quickly and ef­fi­ciently.

“So why do com­pa­nies con­tinue to pur­chase coun­ter­feit bear­ings? Cost is al­most cer­tainly the over­rid­ing fac­tor here. How­ever, although the of­fer price for the bear­ings may ini­tially look at­trac­tive, buy­ers must ask them­selves what the po­ten­tial hid­den costs are in terms of prod­uct li­a­bil­ity and cred­i­bil­ity with their cus­tomers if the prod­uct turns out to be coun­ter­feit and things in­evitably start to go wrong. These could, for ex­am­ple, be crit­i­cal bear­ings on high value ma­chin­ery in a man­u­fac­tur­ing plant. The buyer there­fore needs to take into ac­count the cost of any pro­duc­tion down­time if the bear­ing fails early.

“In ad­di­tion to lost sales and sig­nif­i­cant loss of im­age through in­fe­rior- qual­ity goods that may af­fect fu­ture busi­ness, there have been enor­mous costs aris­ing from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, seizure and pro­fes­sional dis­posal of coun­ter­feit bear­ings. The dis­posal re­quires tight se­cu­rity, as only fully de­stroy­ing the coun­ter­feits will elim­i­nate the dan­ger for the con­sumer.

“But the dam­age af­fects not only those com­pa­nies that pro­duce brand- name goods and in­vest heav­ily in re­search, de­vel­op­ment and qual­ity as­sur­ance. It also af­fects those com­pa­nies that in­stall these com­po­nents. Rolling bear­ings are used in vir­tu­ally ev­ery piece of ro­tat­ing plant and safety- crit­i­cal ma­chin­ery and ve­hi­cles, from ma­chine tools, wind tur­bines and X- ray ap­pa­ra­tus, through to au­to­mo­tive, air­craft and rail ve­hi­cles.”

In 2013, Scha­ef­fler de­stroyed 26 tonnes of coun­ter­feit bear­ings with a value of more than AUD 1.5 mil­lion (EUR 1 mil­lion). The bear­ings were de­stroyed at the premises of INTERSEROH Franken Rohstoff, a me­tal re­cy­cling com­pany based in Sch­we­in­furt, Ger­many. A large pro­por­tion of the coun­ter­feit prod­ucts marked with the INA and FAG brand were seized in raids on bear­ing dis­trib­u­tors across Europe, in­clud­ing Italy, Ger­many and the UK. The spin­dle bear­ings, spher­i­cal roller bear­ings, ball bear­ings and nee­dle roller bear­ings scrapped dur­ing this oper­a­tion were part of a much larger seizure of con­fis­cated coun­ter­feit prod­ucts.

Scha­ef­fler Aus­tralia per­formed a sim­i­lar oper­a­tion in Syd­ney in 2012, where they de­stroyed more than 9.5 tonnes of coun­ter­feit INA and FAG branded prod­uct it had con­fis­cated through­out the year.

Scha­ef­fler in­creas­ingly works with cus­toms au­thor­i­ties to fight prod­uct piracy. Cus­toms of­fi­cials typ­i­cally re­view in­com­ing ship­ments to en­sure they ful­fil le­gal re­quire­ments and re­view whether any trade­mark in­fringe­ments have oc­curred. In China, for ex­am­ple, both im­ported and ex­ported goods are in­spected. This co­op­er­a­tion is im­por­tant in or­der to ef­fec­tively pre­vent coun­ter­feit goods from reach­ing the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket in the most ef­fec­tive way pos­si­ble. In 2016, a to­tal of 182 seizures world­wide were made due to trade­mark vi­o­la­tions suf­fered by the Scha­ef­fler Group. 5,675,812 coun­ter­feit parts were con­fis­cated dur­ing these raids.

More re­cently, in March 2017, an im­porter in Turkey was im­pris­oned and coun­ter­feit rolling bear­ings with a nom­i­nal value of 250,000 Eu­ros (ap­prox. AUD 400,000) were de­stroyed after cus­toms of­fi­cials at the port of Mersin be­gan to sus­pect that the FAG- branded bear­ings may not be gen­uine and sent pho­to­graphs to Scha­ef­fler’s Brand Pro­tec­tion Team, who then took over and han­dled all sub­se­quent mea­sures.

EN­HANCED COUN­TER­FEIT PRO­TEC­TION

In or­der to help buy­ers check the au­then­tic­ity of their prod­ucts, man­u­fac­tur­ers of bear­ings have in­tro­duced a va­ri­ety of mea­sures. Scha­ef­fler has in­tro­duced the Orig­inCheck app, which pro­vides end cus­tomers, dis­trib­u­tors and au­thor­i­ties with an easy method of clar­i­fi­ca­tion when sus­pi­cion about a bear­ing arises. If one of these checks leads the user to sus­pect that a prod­uct may be coun­ter­feit, he or she can use the Orig­inCheck app to take ad­di­tional mea­sures to ob­tain proper clar­i­fi­ca­tion.

The checks are car­ried out based on the trace­able data ma­trix codes (DMC) that are placed on the Scha­ef­fler pack­ag­ing. These two- di­men­sional codes con­tain var­i­ous types of in­for­ma­tion in a ma­chine- read­able form and al­lows the rel­e­vant prod­uct to be iden­ti­fied world­wide. 90 per­cent of prod­ucts that are sup­plied by Scha­ef­fler to­day al­ready fea­ture a DMC on the pack­ag­ing.

The user scans this DMC with the Orig­inCheck app and im­me­di­ately re­ceives no­ti­fi­ca­tion of whether the code has been found in the data­base that is main­tained by Scha­ef­fler. If one of these Scha­ef­fler codes is au­then­tic but has al­ready been scanned mul­ti­ple times, the user then re­ceives a warn­ing based on a de­fined set of cri­te­ria. If this is the case, or if the code’s au­then­tic­ity is clearly not con­firmed, the app can be used to cre­ate suitable pho­to­graphic doc­u­men­ta­tion of the prod­uct be­ing checked.

FUR­THER IN­VES­TI­GA­TION WHEN SUS­PI­CION ARISES

Pho­tos of the prod­uct, its pack­ag­ing and mark­ings play a de­ci­sive role in help­ing to clar­ify with cer­tainty whether a prod­uct is an orig­i­nal or a coun­ter­feit. The Orig­inCheck app gives the user a step- by- step ex­pla­na­tion of which pho­to­graphs are rel­e­vant, il­lus­trated us­ing ex­am­ples. The fin­ished pho­to­graphic doc­u­men­ta­tion can be e- mailed di­rectly from the app to the cen­tral depart­ment re­spon­si­ble for com­bat­ing prod­uct and brand piracy at Scha­ef­fler. Since 2004, the team has han­dled sev­eral thou­sand cases, and is con­tin­u­ously de­vel­op­ing ad­di­tional mea­sures to pro­tect against prod­uct piracy and trade­mark in­fringe­ments.

FIND­ING A DIS­TRIB­U­TOR MADE EASY

To re­main as safe as pos­si­ble from coun­ter­feit rolling bear­ings, Scha­ef­fler rec­om­mends only pur­chas­ing goods from its own net­work of cer­ti­fied dis­trib­u­tors. These cer­ti­fied dis­trib­u­tors have di­rect ac­cess to orig­i­nal INA and FAG prod­ucts and also of­fer ex­pert ad­vice and the full range of rel­e­vant ser­vices.

THE ORIG­INCHECK APP IS AVAIL­ABLE FREE OF CHARGE FOR IOS AND AN­DROID OP­ER­AT­ING SYS­TEMS IN GER­MAN AND ENGLISH: WWW.SCHA­EF­FLER.DE/APPS

“GLOB­ALLY, PROD­UCT COUN­TER­FEIT­ING IS ON THE I NCREASE. NOT JUST I N CON­SUMER GOODS SUCH AS MU­SIC, FILM, HOME ELEC­TRON­ICS AND DE­SIGNER CLOTH­ING, BUT ALSO I N I NDUSTRIAL, SAFETYCRITICAL PROD­UCTS SUCH AS SEALS.” BEAR­INGS AND

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