Effective Counterfeit Electronic Components Mitigation Starts with the Supplier: What to Look For

Rocel Juntura

October 29th, 2018

Counterfeit electronic components lead to product failure, which in turn can lead to loss of revenue, loss of jobs, serious injury or death. In certain market verticals, such as aerospace and defense, introducing counterfeit electronic components into the supply chain has national security implications.

As an electronics manufacturer, effective counterfeit electronic components mitigation must be your top priority.

But how do you ensure the safety and security of your supply chain? What is being done by government agencies, regulatory organizations, and the industry to secure the supply chain? And what should you look for in a supplier to reduce the chances of purchasing counterfeit electronic components?

Counterfeit Electronic Components Mitigation Efforts

Government agencies, regulatory organizations, and industry experts are working closely to secure the supply chain by establishing regulations and certification programs that specify industry standards and best practices and developing anti-counterfeit technology. These efforts include:

- AS6081. The foremost counterfeit components avoidance and mitigation standard, AS6081 standardizes practices to identify reliable procurement sources, assess and mitigate the risk of distributing counterfeit components, control suspect or confirmed counterfeit components, and report those components to the appropriate entities.

- AS9120/ISO 9001. The criteria for a quality management system are set out by AS9120/ISO 9001. It represents the most comprehensive level of Quality Management System certification available. This standard sets requirements for all areas of quality management processes — purchasing, sales, inspection, storage, distribution, continual improvement, and overall management processes. It helps ensure that customers receive consistent, good-quality products and services.

- ISO/IEC 17020. Often used to accredit law enforcement forensic laboratories, ISO/IEC 17020 specifies requirements for the competence, impartiality, and consistency of those conducting various types of inspections.

- IPC-A-610. The Acceptability of Electronic Assemblies, IPC-A-610, is a certification program for inspectors and quality managers. This standard is the source for end product acceptance criteria for consumer and high-reliability electronic assemblies.

- SHIELD. Launched by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2017, the Supply Chain Hardware Integrity Electronics Defense (SHIELD) program is developing dielets, which are microscopic tags that can be embedded within integrated circuits. They serve as ID tags to make it harder to counterfeit electronic components and easier to identify components that have been compromised.

Top 3 Criteria for a Reliable Electronics Component Supplier

Drawing upon the regulations, anti-counterfeiting efforts, and certification programs available in the industry, we’ve identified the top three criteria you should use when seeking a reliable electronics component supplier:

- Certifications. Look for a supplier that has taken the time not just to comply with regulations, but to acquire the certifications listed above. This shows a supplier’s commitment to adhering to industry standards and best practices, as well as a willingness to have a third-party audit to confirm those practices. We are committed to continual improvement and are certified to AS6081, AS9120/ISO 9001, ISO/IEC 17020, and IPC-A-610 standards, among others. We are certified to more standards than any other independent distributor.

- Engagement. Reliable electronics components suppliers are engaged in the industry, actively taking part in anti-counterfeit conversations and efforts. Look for a supplier that is a member of GIDEP, the Government-Industry Data Exchange Program, SAE International, and ERAI. We are actively involved in all of these organizations along with the Electrostatic Discharge Association and the International Institute of Obsolescence Management.

- Internal Processes. Certifications and industry engagement are essential, but they are not sufficient. It’s important to also have a good understanding of your supplier’s internal processes. What inspection and counterfeit-avoidance protocols do they have in place? How do they evaluate their suppliers? How many quality conformance issues have they experienced? What is their audit record? Our industry-leading counterfeit avoidance protocols, combined with our real-time supplier rating system, have resulted in an impeccable record. Over the last three years, we have passed 126 of 126 audits.  

Electronics component procurement is a complex, time-consuming process that is fraught with risk. We take these risks very seriously, as evidenced by our preferred status with the Department of Defense, our impeccable audit record, and our unsurpassed reputation for superior quality conformance. If you’d like to talk with us about your counterfeit electronic components mitigation efforts, please get in touch. We welcome the opportunity to demonstrate our value to your procurement team.

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