Turck’s BL Ident RFID System Brand Protection with RFID

Author / Editor: Sander Makkinga / Lisa Saller, Lisa Saller

Turck’s BL ident RFID system is enabling machine builders to prevent the use of counterfeit spare parts. Mechanical engineering companies in Germany are increasingly having to tackle the problem of counterfeit spare parts. Besides the use of legal protection, technical measures for preventing the use of unauthorized spare parts are also available.

Turck’s modular RFID portfolio allows exactly the right design for identification solutions, not only for brand protection.
Turck’s modular RFID portfolio allows exactly the right design for identification solutions, not only for brand protection.
(Photo: Turck)

In the industrial environment, robust RFID systems are particularly suitable for the identification of spares and wear parts. Radio technology also brings greater transparency and production reliability to the machine, as well as the product protection provided.

Each year, flagrant imitators in Germany are awarded a special prize of notoriety: the Plagiarius Award. Of the top three winners of the Plagiarius Award 2015, two of the counterfeit products come from China and one from Germany. Two things are worth noting here: Firstly the cliché of fake products from Chinese companies seems to be confirmed. However, the result also shows that the fake products are not restricted to China or Asia alone. Companies worldwide must deal with this problem and take measures where necessary.


The German mechanical engineering sector also has to deal with counterfeit products, as a recent study by the VDMA, the German Engineering Association, makes clear: Machines and the spare parts of machines in particular are being counterfeited. The VDMA Study Product Piracy 2014 shows that on average 71 percent of mechanical engineering companies in Germany are affected by product piracy. The figure for companies with over 500 employees is even more serious: In this group as much as 90 percent of the companies are affected. According to the study, the estimated loss in sales of companies affected by counterfeit products was 7.9 billion euros in 2013. This does not include the costs arising from unsubstantiated claims arising from the use of counterfeit spares – which affected 25 percent of the companies surveyed – let alone the resulting damage to a company’s reputation.

Germany no. 2 counterfeit producer

Germany comes in second place behind the People’s Republic of China among the countries of origin of counterfeit products, with an estimated 23 percent originating here. While Chinese counterfeits are often assumed to have lower quality and more limited functions, the VDMA considers products imitated in Germany as “high-tech counterfeits.” “Considering the type of counterfeits made in Germany, the assumption in the past few years was that these were always “soft” counterfeits. By this is meant the illicit copying of the collaterals that come with original products, e.g. user manuals, product images, catalogs etc.” says Steffen Zimmermann, managing director of the VDMA Working Group Product and Know-How Protection. “The new data forces us to completely rethink this assumption. Mechanical engineers are speaking of entire machines, components, and parts copied in Germany. These high-tech copies show that the native-bred danger needs to be taken very seriously indeed.” As a result of the study, the VDMA is offering interested companies the Product and Know-How Protection Guidelines, which provide advice in finding the right protection measures against product piracy and the loss and theft of know-how. In order to protect oneself from counterfeiters, it must be clear what type of counterfeit is involved.