Keeping one step ahead of Counterfeit Electronic Components is becoming more important and more difficult as the counterfeiters improve their processes and ways of hiding the true identity of the flawed products they produce and how they get them into the global electronic component supply chain. These companies and individuals throughout the world involved in producing counterfeit electronic components are producing components that are getting more difficult to detect, and as the production of counterfeit components gets more complex so must the processes put in place to detect them.
We all know the debilitating affect sub standard counterfeit components can have on electronic equipment which can be life threatening in certain circumstances. Detecting counterfeit components becomes more difficult once they are actually installed inside a device and when the device fails it is difficult to detect that the failure was caused by counterfeit components unless that was specifically been looked for during an inspection or repairing process so the detection process is best done at the supply stage.
There are several ways in which counterfeit components are produced; one of the most common ways is by harvesting components from scrapped circuit boards. Western countries are getting big on recycling everything possible in the mode of being green recycling electronics is becoming very popular, a lot of this recycled material ends up in developing countries where the component harvesting is done. The processes involved in the way the components are removed from their original and usually non functioning circuit boards is usually crude and even more damaging to the components, many already at the end of their useable life. The components are piled into like piles and go through a washing process and a sanding process to remove the original component markings. Having components piled together based on how they look has its own problems as components that are not the same end up together, different revisions, different uses and even not the same component all end up together to be sold as one type. The components finally go through a marking process to mark them all the same. A lot of trouble is gone to producing perfect looking component reels that match the real manufacturer’s products; it’s also very common for the counterfeiter to purchase real components to put at various places on the reel to help fool any visual inspection.
Another method of producing counterfeited electronic components involves the obtaining of discarded components that for one reason or another failed quality tests during the manufacturing process or had production issues and were discarded. These components are sourced directly from the manufacturer either through illegal means or scavenging the products then continuing the branding process and selling them as functioning components, which have original branding.
This is only two examples of how counterfeit electronic components are being produced in large quantities and pushed into the global supply chain. Most independent electronic component sources are staying ahead in the fight against allowing these products to gain entry into the supply chain and eventually into devices that we rely on, they are using state of the art detection processes and secure sourcing methods while working alongside different organizations such as ERAI which is a privately held global information services organization that monitors, investigates and reports issues that are affecting the global supply chain of electronics. Also independent component distributors can be members of organizations that collect relevant quality information and participate in advancing industry ethics, ensuring customer satisfaction, establishing standards, and promoting education such as The Independent Distributors of Electronics Association (IDEA) which is a non-profit trade association representing quality and ethically oriented independent distributors of electronic components.
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