Counterfeiting is more common than many in the manufacturing industry might think. While counterfeits in the art or fashion worlds can set collectors back a pretty penny, real danger is possible when manufacturers buy fake parts or don’t take proper steps to prevent their end users from doing so. But what can those in the industry do to avoid buying counterfeit manufacturing parts? And how can those whose end users might be prone to purchasing fakes from counterfeiters keep their customers safe?
One major danger in the manufacturing world is counterfeit bearings. When bearings don’t wear the way they’re supposed to, unexpected machine failures could occur. While failures can be damaging to pricey manufacturing machines and throw production off, those on plant floors could also be injured by such failures. Since manufacturers don’t often buy bearings knowing they’re fakes, bearing producers are taking steps to prevent counterfeits from entering the market and causing such damage and danger.
Automakers like Nissan must also protect themselves from purchasing and using counterfeit parts that they could pass to consumers in completed vehicles. Not only could these fakes cause the company and brand to lose face but consumers could also face serious injury or death because of accidents due to faulty parts. But Nissan’s real battle isn’t with the vetted companies it purchases production parts from. Instead, it’s with counterfeiters selling products direct to consumers online using the Nissan name.
The best way to avoid issues like these? Partner with a company that can monitor online marketplaces and encourage end users to buy only from you, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). And most important, only purchase the products and supplies you need for your manufacturing plant from OEMs.
Blockchain for the supply chain
One suggestion for manufacturers and end users to work together to avoid fakes is blockchain. Applicable to the supply chain, blockchain is a digital system that keeps records and prevents alteration as it safeguards product information. Just like Bitcoin, each transfer is a “block” connected to the “chain” of recorded transfers.
When applied to manufacturing, OEMs assign a unique ID to each individual product they introduce to the market. Those at each exchange in the supply chain scan the product’s ID and update its status. Each of these transfers adds a “block” to the product’s traceable “chain.” The chain builds throughout the product’s travels along each stop in the supply chain, recording information throughout and making that information available to the end user.
With an easily traceable chain of information on each item, end users could track not only where each has been but also what’s been done to it. Plus, the record serves as a mark of authenticity that those along the supply chain verify prior to moving along in the process. Counterfeiters simply can’t introduce their products to the market without these certifications.
Although counterfeiting can be dangerous, manufacturers are taking steps to prevent it. Whether it’s checking for forgeries or introducing new technology into production and supply chains, savvy sellers are moving toward a fake-free future.