Counterfeiting, by its nature, depends on secrecy and misdirection. Shining a spotlight on the nature and methods of counterfeiting is one step toward battling the problem.
I’ve been covering this topic for 20 years, and there are still things that surprise me. Anti-counterfeiting efforts are being spearheaded by the best minds in the US government, by trade associations, manufacturers, sales channels, scientists, and technology companies... and yet, it remains a huge problem. Here are a couple new things I learned from last week’s Webinar on counterfeit components, sponsored by Rochester Electronics and EBN:
A component can be “authentic” and “counterfeit” at the same time As odd as this sounds, the designation of “counterfeit” encompasses form, fit, and function as well as the device itself. For example, a chip manufactured prior to RoHS may be in a package containing lead. If the chip is removed and repackaged lead-free, the repackaged device under some qualifications would be considered counterfeit. Rochester Electronics director of quality Dan Deisz explains in EBN’s comment section:
With regards to your question about not meeting specs enough to call a part counterfeit. Yes and no. It depends on the spec because the original part may not have met the spec either. We see this all the time with components controlled by source control drawings. If you do a comparative analysis (like we do at Rochester) on every single pin for every single parameter in a dynamic test environment on every replicated part, you have something on which to base the judgment. When it comes to products not governed by an SCD (standard product offering), [not meeting specs is enough to consider a part counterfeit] your statement is correct... most of the time.
Marking a part is just that -- marking a part I have long been under the impression that making a part with a unique identifier -- such as DNA tagging or RFID -- would solve the counterfeiting problem by proving the part is authentic. That’s not the case. Even if the original component manufacturer marks a part, that part can be manipulated later down the line. If a part is blacktopped or repackaged, the original device still exists, but now it is being misrepresented. Technically, it is a counterfeit. Additionally, if a part is sourced through unauthorized channels, many manufacturers will not honor its warrantee. Proving the provenance of a device is important, especially if it fails in the field. Deisz explains in an email:
DNA tagging is not a solution for counterfeit. DNA tagging is simply marking a part. That marking is unique and technically elegant, but that marking bears no legitimacy toward being an authorized product. DNA tagging tells you nothing about product handling. It only tells you who marked the part at one point in time.
Check out the archived Webinar here. You may be surprised at the things you don’t know about counterfeiting.
but what if the counterfiet product which is meeting specification while in a circuit ?
As long a part meeting all the specifiactions on paper as well as in circuit has not violated any license or patent in its manufacture, then we should have no reason to call it a counterfeit in my opinion.
In Automobiles many a second source suppleirs produce the components and sell them at much cheaper price than the original and people happliy buty them even after knowing that it is not original. Naturally the warranty period for such parts is much shorter.
That's not the case. Even if the original component manufacturer marks a part, that part can be manipulated later down the line.
@Barbara, thanks for the post. I am surprised to know that original component can be manipulated later down the line. Does it mean its totally impossible to distinguish between original and counterfeit parts ? How can we detect counterfeit if the device is blacktopped/repackaged when RFID is not reliable.
Good point about "unfit." It makes sense. That would help bridge the gap between "authentic" and "counterfeit." Although those terms/parameters are confusing enough, I can see how a third category would work.
I agree that a part should be labelled counterfeit if it has been changed in any way from its original form and function as shipped from the original manufacturer. Tampering in any way could lead to unwanted effects.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.