Exclusive Interview: SKF’s Fight Against Counterfeit Bearings

22 May, 2023

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Counterfeit bearings pose a grave threat to the integrity and reliability of industrial machinery, undermining the trust between manufacturers, distributors, and end users. 

In a bid to combat this growing issue, B2K recently had the privilege of sitting down with Lynette Nieuwenhuizen, the Brand Protection Champion for SKF South Africa. 

In this exclusive interview, we delve deep into the intricacies of SKF’s Brand Protection team and the vital role they play in safeguarding the authenticity of bearings and ensuring the supply chain remains untainted.

Lynette Nieuwenhuizen, the Brand Protection Champion for SKF South Africa (Left) and Sathyanarayan K G, Group Brand Protection (Right)

Q: What is the role of a brand protection champion at SKF and how long have you held this position?

A: I have been serving as a Brand Protection Champion for 2 years. As a Brand Protection champion, my responsibility is to ensure compliance among our distribution partners and maintain SKF’s reputation as a provider of authentic products. This involves conducting awareness campaigns and webinars to educate end users about the importance of working with authorised distributors and the potential consequences of obtaining counterfeit products.

Q: Can you estimate the percentage of counterfeit premium bearings supplied globally and explain SKF’s efforts in combating counterfeits?

A: While it is challenging to provide an exact figure, we estimate that around 30% of bearings supplied globally are counterfeit, although many cases go unreported. To address this issue, we consistently urge our distribution partners and ens users to utilise the SKF Authenticate App, which aids in identifying counterfeit products and potential suppliers. It also allows us to raise awareness among suppliers who may unknowingly distribute illicit products.

Q: Are there any noteworthy trends or developments in the global and South African markets regarding counterfeits that you would like to share?

A: South Africa, like many other regions, has witnessed an increase in counterfeit products, primarily due to supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this challenge, SKF South Africa (Pty) Ltd has conducted Brand Protection Audits for key end-user customers, assisting in the identification of counterfeit SKF products. We prioritise maintaining confidentiality in these matters and have established a Whistleblowers Hotline to protect individuals’ identities when reporting counterfeit supply channels.

Q: Could you provide details on recent initiatives undertaken by the brand protection team in South Africa?

A: SKF South Africa (Pty) Ltd is dedicated to collaborating with the global Brand Protection Team to ensure clean distribution and supply to all end-user customers. One of our recent initiatives is the implementation of “Brand Protection Audits,” a complimentary service offered to end-user customers. Through these audits, we conduct thorough inspections of their warehouses, examining all SKF products. Additionally, we educate employees within organisations to emphasize the importance of procuring from authorised distributors and identifying red flags that may indicate counterfeit products.

Q: How can customers ensure they only purchase genuine SKF products, and what should they do if they suspect counterfeit activity?

A: Customers must exclusively purchase their required SKF products from authorised distributors to guarantee authenticity. We strongly recommend downloading the SKF Authenticate App, which serves as a valuable tool for product verification during procurement. By utilising the app, customers can safeguard themselves and have peace of mind knowing that their suppliers provide genuine SKF products. If customers are unsure about authorised channels, they can reach out to us at genuine@skf.com for assistance.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to mention?

A: I would like to express my gratitude to Bearings 2000 for their unwavering support and commitment to this crucial cause. I encourage all end users to engage with Bearings 2000, arrange webinars with their teams, and take advantage of the Brand Protection Audit offer. By working together, we can ensure a clean supply chain and guarantee the authenticity of SKF products.

For further information, please feel free to reach out to genuine@skf.com.

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