Component Checking

8 Step Guide To Buying Electronic Components With Confidence and Avoiding Counterfeits

1. Procurement Supplier Selection

Procurement policies and the selection of suppliers create an opportunity to significantly reduce the risk of counterfeit parts from entering the supply chain. Different sources of supply have different levels of risk, here are some considerations..

  • Manufacturer, Franchised Distributor OR Agent
  • Independent Distributors
  • Small Unlicensed Distributors 

2. Receiving, Inspecting & Examining Goods

Visual inspections are recommended for any organization dealing with electronic components and are the front line of counterfeit screening. Inspection starts with the delivery paperwork then the outer packaging/labelling and continues down to the component level. You should carefully look at these three:

  • Paperwork considerations
  • Packaging considerations  
  • Component Considerations 

3. Quality Specification

When choosing your electronic components supplier it is
essential they have the correct quality procedures in place.
Not only do they provide quality assurance when purchasing, but they can also help mitigate the risk of counterfeit electronic components entering supply chains.

It is recommended that electronic component suppliers should have the necessary processes in place to be able to mitigate the risk of receiving, storing and shipping potential counterfeit devices. Some of their quality processes may include the following quality certifications…

  • ISO 9001:2008
  • AS5553
  • IDEA-STD-1010B

4. Traceability Requirements

Suppliers must maintain accurate records regarding the purchase of material that can be easily accessed when required by customers. It is vital your supplier is open and honest, divulging their origin. By providing traceability according to quality standards.

Procedures (such as ISO 9001:2008 certification) customers can follow the origin of the electronic component, ensuring the highest level of accountability and control.

5. Testing For Counterfeits

Suppliers should offer electronic components.

testing to include 100% inspection guarantee to international standards on critical visual and physical criteria to verify the origin and condition of the device. Tests could include any number of conventional techniques that are commonly used today in the fight against counterfeiting, (a fee may be paid for some testing).

  • Electrical Testing 
  • X-Ray Testing 
  • Decapsulation
  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
  • XRF Analysis
  • Permanency Markings / Acetone Test

6. Training & Certifications

As there seems to be no sign of improvement regarding the counterfeiting issue.

Within the electronic component industry, there is a need for training courses and certifications. Organizations should be pro-actively developing and conducting regular training for employees in the areas of procurement, detection, reporting and disposition of counterfeit parts. Companies can take advantage of the resources from industry organizations to learn about counterfeit parts and how to prevent them from entering the supply chain, these organizations include:

● AIA (Aerospace Industries Association)
● The CACP (Coalition Against Counterfeiting & Piracy)
● JEDEC (Joint Electron Devices Engineering Council)
● IDEA (Independent Distributors of Electronics Association)
● UKEA (UK Electronics Alliance

7. Planning, Systems & Procedures

Companies dealing with electronic components should develop a counterfeit parts control plan to outline what systems and processes they will use in mitigating the risk, disposition, and reporting of counterfeit parts.

By planning and controlling it will help to mitigate counterfeit parts going into your manufacturing process or sold onto other parties. Within the plan it is recommended that companies include the following items:

  • Assess availability of authentic parts. Conduct an obsolescence program to manage life cycle of their products. Assess potential sources of supply to determine risks.
  • Maintain a list of approved suppliers. Develop a component quality plan that assures detection of counterfeit parts, including minimum inspection and test requirements.
  • A documented process to initiate an investigation once counterfeit parts have been detected.
  • A documented process to report suspected counterfeit product to customers and government organizations.

8. Reporting Counterfeit Components

If an unfortunate event occurs and a counterfeit electronic component is received by your company, it is vital you collate as much evidence as possible. Your immediate reaction may be that you decide to send the parts back to the supplier demanding your money back. However, when sending the parts back, you are inviting them to send those same parts to another unfortunate purchaser.

Suspected counterfeit parts can be reported to the following associations:

● FAA’s (Federal Aviation Association) Suspect Unapproved Parts Program
● ERAI (Electronic Resellers Association International)
● IDEA (Independent Distributors Electronics Association)
● UKEA (United Kingdom Electronics Alliance)
● GIDEP (Government Industry Data Exchange Program)