Memorial Day Thoughts for the Electronics Industry

Memorial Day is when Americans honor those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom. It's a good time to consider what the electronics industry might do to help minimize those losses.

For those readers who don't know, Americans take this day annually to gather and take trips together, enjoying a long weekend of rest and remembrance. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the American Civil War and became an official US holiday in 1971.

Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or participating in parades. Throughout the country, people show their appreciation for those who gave their lives in service with gestures as simple as moments of silence.

Protecting our soldiers both at home and abroad is a top priority to those leading our military branches and government. Developing cutting-edge technologies that protect equipment and soldiers is a constant challenge for design engineers. Mission-critical systems must utilize high-quality components that deliver flawless functionality, particularly when used in potentially dangerous situations.

It is the responsibility of those involved in designing and manufacturing of equipment for the military, aerospace, and mission-critical applications to use trusted components from an authorized source.

Life-threatening parts
Counterfeit and substandard semiconductors are not only found in phones, computers, and other consumer goods, but also in potentially life-threatening applications, including military hardware, vehicles, and medical equipment.

The continuing escalation in the number of counterfeit parts making their way into the military supply chain has prompted US government agencies to take action by implementing more stringent purchasing policies and prosecuting known counterfeiters. However, these actions have not resulted in a reduction of counterfeit activity.

The semiconductor industry has a serious supply chain problem. The numbers do not lie. Counterfeit and substandard devices put people's lives at risk. Eliminating counterfeit devices from entering the supply chain and manufacturing process should be the single most important goal for the entire industry in 2013.

Those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country deserve immeasurable amounts of recognition and respect. By eliminating counterfeits and substandard devices from our mission-critical supply chains, hopefully there will be fewer soldiers to commemorate next Memorial Day.

15 comments on “Memorial Day Thoughts for the Electronics Industry

  1. _hm
    May 27, 2013

    Contractors and subcontractors can identify genuine and conterfeit parts rather easily. They should take help of engineers or designer too. What is missing is their desire to do more diligent work.

    One of the effective way to decimate this is to make punishment more visible. One who sales part or product with sub-standard quality, should be black listed for minimum of three years from any further contract work. There should be additional heavy penalty in dollar value.

    Military purchase supply chain is also equally responsible. If more bad parts come from same officer, it is obvious that he is part of these bad deals. He should also be removed from further contract negotiations.

    To resolve this problem should not be so difficult.



  2. Lavender
    May 27, 2013


    Punishment undoubtedly is an effective measure, but usually aims at the problems that have appeared in the market and caused bad impact. In order to ensure the most concerned issue-consumer security, I think the initial prevention to be more important in the supply chain management , especially for counterfeit and discontinued products. 

  3. Himanshugupta
    May 28, 2013

    The suppliers providing counterfeit parts should be banned and severe punishment should be given to all the people involved. The problems are the global supply chain and loopholes in the legal system. So, the remedy can be to buy parts only from reliable resouces for the mission critical purpose. The only problem with such a practice can be the higher cost of acquiring the parts and services.

  4. prabhakar_deosthali
    May 28, 2013

    In my opinion, the problem of counterfeit parts is serious and especially for military applications , it can compromise the national security and also put the lives of the army personnel at risk

    The root of the problem may be lying in the contractor selection process itself. Military procedures take too much time for a supplier to be approved but later they meay be lax on the parts supplied by the approved vendors

    The other reason is , some of the military products have a very long life -whereas the electronic parts used in them may go out of production sooner. If the spares inventory is not planned properly then you end up buying parts from the secondary market where there are fair chances of counterfeit parts infiltrating into the genuine supplies

  5. Houngbo_Hospice
    May 28, 2013


    “The only problem with such a practice can be the higher cost of acquiring the parts and services.”

    It is better to get expensive parts from reliable suppliers. This way you are pretty sure that the specifications are corect and the parts will not cause any security issues to their users.

  6. Tom Murphy
    May 28, 2013

    Thanks Prabhakar. I think you're right.  The contract process for defense has been seriously flawed for decades. Often the military lacks the capability to assure compliance with specs.  To be sure, counterfeit parts represent a threat just as surely as a con man will cheat you out of your money.  But that is why we need to be on guard against fraud, isn't it. A fool and his money are soon parted, and let us admit that is true even when the “fool” is good ol' Uncle Sam.

    Caveat emptor, Sam.

  7. William K.
    May 28, 2013

    In reality, solving the problem of counterfeit parts is a very big problem, since it is being done with the intention of doing damage, not merely to cheat and gain profit. It is an act of treason to sabotage military equipment, while it is a crime of larceny to do the same thing in the commercial world. 

    The first thing is to realize the level and intent of the damage done by those who send counterfeit parts into military systems is to do military damage. Then we can understand the sort of people who are doing it, which provides a sense of what the problem is. But none of that gets rid of the bad parts, that much is just explaining the nature of the enemy.

  8. ahdand
    May 29, 2013

    @Himanshugupta: Yes I also feel that but its impossible since there are many around the globe. I feel the fake numbers are much more higher than the originals. How to track them ?

  9. Mr. Roques
    May 29, 2013

    Well, whenever you want low prices – you face the risk of suppliers offering cheap products, sometimes counterfeit products.

    Can they vertically integrate? 

  10. _hm
    May 29, 2013

    It is not only supplier. It is also purchase in all organizations and engineers too. Everyone has some interest – e.g. finish project on time, with money budgeted etc. More education to all involved is also essential.



  11. hash.era
    May 31, 2013

    @Mr.Roques: Good point, you cannot argue with them because it's the cheap one. If you want the original pay more and get it.       

    May 31, 2013

    There is no counterfeiting problem. There are people who are OK with selling counterfeits and there are people who are OK with buying counterfeits.

    We have not received a counterfeit device in the past 5 years.

    If you are receiving counterfeits from your suppliers and you continue to use those suppliers then you are OK with buying counterfeits.

    If your supplier knows they are going to get reported to GIDEP and the IPR Center and then be disqualified. Then you are not going to get a counterfeit.

    This might sound harsh but it isn't. We only use 1 open market supplier. They get 100% of our business and we allow them to make a healthy profit. It's been a win – win.  Neither side of the transaction wants to loose the relationship. They give us compete transparency and we allow them to make money. Good communication and a long standing trusted relationship takes time. Once clear expectations and consequences were established the counterfeit issue completely disappeared. 

  13. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    May 31, 2013

    @Prabshakar, this is a serious problem…and the only answer is to test and verify. You are right that building relationships with vendors is important, but after those relationships are established, it's equally good to keep testing the actual products for quality.

  14. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    May 31, 2013

    It's true that manufacturers need to vote with their feet and only work with organizations with a good reputation. Two adages come to mind. First, caveat emptor. Second, you get what you pay for. 

    I am glad to hear that therea re organizatoins like yours that are willing pay a better margin to the partner in order to get verified quality. that's a path that is going to lead to a good place…and to long and strong relationships.

  15. ahdand
    June 29, 2013

    @Mr.Roques: Im not sure whether it can be integrated but going or opting for lower cost product is a  huge risk for them to have          

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