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Global training, tools and awareness efforts help thwart bearing counterfeiters targeting public transit

End users, distributors and customs officials are more skilled than ever at identifying fake “Timken” bearings before they put people and companies at risk. Ongoing seizures of counterfeit Timken packaging and products globally kept fake bearings from being sold and used.

“At its worst, counterfeiting results in a greater risk of personal injuries and loss of life—particularly in public transit where some cities move millions of passengers daily,” says Christine Przybysz, legal representative of The Timken Company “It also creates costly downtime and equipment performance issues for operators. Prevention takes the collaboration of many parties, from law enforcement to customers’ purchasing agents and maintenance personnel. Timken and the WBA invest in training, awareness campaigns and tools like the WBA Bearing Authenticator to help groups throughout the distribution channel identify counterfeit product.”

In 2019, a company claiming to be an “authorized Timken distributor” provided a U.S.-based public transit authority with a suspiciously low bid along with a sample bearing to provide it was “authentic Timken product”. Procurement specialists at the public transit authority worked with Timken to identify the product and documentation as counterfeit before a sale was made. Further investigation revealed that the distributor was actively working with two other public transit authorities in major cities. These cases were turned over to U.S. Homeland Security Investigation agents due to the potential risk to public safety.

In Greece, personnel conducting an audit for a major metropolitan underground became suspicious when bearing packaging for “Timken” and three other major bearing brands didn’t include proper markings. The bearings had been purchased on an open tender and provided by the lowest-price bidder. The metro handed over samples for review to each of the four respective bearing manufacturers, which all verified that the products were fake.

“Transit customers are recognizing counterfeits prior to use and avoiding potential safety issues which demonstrates that our efforts are working,” says Przybysz. “Across industries, our advice is to always buy from trusted sources and use the training and tools available to you to help spot counterfeit.”

The latest tool—the WBA Bearing Authenticator—uses proprietary data to verify authenticity and provide an instant response. It is available via Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Try it today to protect yourself—and remember to always buy bearings from trusted sources to safeguard authenticity. For more information, visit