Assurance matters

In the fight against counterfeits, Adaptix’ fast, affordable, benchtop 3D inspection system is designed to tip the balance of power in favour of the buyer 


Imagine if some 15 per cent of electronics were counterfeit? Well, they are. Counterfeits affect sectors from military to medical. Approximately one in seven electronic parts in the US military were estimated to be counterfeit (according to the US Senate in 2011) and one in 12 medical devices being counterfeit (according to the WHO in 2010). As a result, standards such as ISO9000, AS9100, SAE AS5553 and IEC 62239-1 all state supply chain companies must have anti-counterfeit measures and management plans.


A post-pandemic surge in demand for electronic components has caused lead times to often exceed 52-weeks and corporate buyers are now scouring parts of the supply chain they would not have previously trusted. Counterfeiters have seized the chance to monetise the opportunity and have become more sophisticated in doing so given the massive values at stake. The combination of these factors results in a scale and significance that many privately acknowledge but will not publicly speak of.


Counterfeiters ‘pepper’ good batches with around 10 per cent non-authentic components to drive yield and avoid detection, which works not least as a batch may be bought and sold several times. Existing inspection protocols are not stopping the ingress and buyers are accepting downstream product failure as a cost of doing business. Understandable for a non-safety critical device, but problematic in a car, pacemaker, plane or missile guidance system.


AdaptixNDE sees a way to change the balance of power in the war on counterfeit. Initially this is about transforming the economics of testing: accelerating inspection workflow; increasing the productivity of skilled inspectors; and improving the sensitivity and diagnostic certainty with respect to counterfeit. This is achieved by bringing the external test house to the warehouse through putting affordable and deployable 3D imaging on the test bench to deliver 3D clarity in 60 seconds.


Conventionally 3D x-ray (typically via computed tomography) has been beyond the reach of many organisations because of the infrastructure (lead-lined radiation room), cost (hundreds of thousands), weight (the same as two Nissan Micras) and (crucially) the full workflow time it takes to acquire an image. Fast, affordable, fully shielded 3D is now available for in-house routine use via Adaptix and it weighs just 85kg. This ‘benchtop’ 3D allows a rapid test for: coplanarity, while also visualising deformities (such as twisted chips or bent pins); uneven BGAs; missing or variants in dye; and seeing broken wires. All while in the box, allowing focussed selection of components for inspection.


Capability is important, but to ‘move the needle’ it is the economics that are important. On-site inspection: reduces component handling and transit; allows faster stock-turns to reduce working capital and stock-holding risk; and increases the throughput capacity for a test, storage or warehouse facility allowing the following advantages.


Faster inventory turns: In-house testing allows compression of the inspection cycle from six-weeks to 60-seconds. Lower inventory holding periods due to not needing to wait for test results. Faster time to cash receipt from customers.


Enhanced risk management: Reduced risk from price fluctuations on price-volatile components. Reduced economic exposure when placing components into long-term storage.


Reduced cost: Reduced external test costs. Reduced handling, transit and administration costs. Removes capital cost of test equipment purchases.


Improved efficiency: More productive use of in-demand skilled inspectors to improve efficiency and effectiveness.


Increased confidence: Potential to increase sample size with same resource or give equal assurance at lower cost. Better data to refute false return claims


AdaptixNDE is delivering this value on a ‘per-scan’ basis with a small up-front and monthly fee to reduce the perceived risk of adoption and ensure that incentives are aligned. Just as in healthcare, from where the technology emanates, the key is ‘quality up, cost down’. Again, as in healthcare, the technology is not standing still and the company has a product roadmap that will further accelerate inspection and enhance assurance as the war against counterfeit will never be won. The pipeline of further innovations includes:


  • Automated quantification
  • Automated comparison with external data sets
  • Multi-modal and multi-spectral inspection
  • Automated oxidation detection
  • Comparison with large data sets of known-good and know-bad


The future of counter-counterfeit is a strategy built on data and leveraging the lessons of anti-virus—the aggregation and dissemination of threat information to the benefit of all benign market participants by providing ever more certain characterisation and evaluation of components and devices. Adaptix’ solution will extend to a complete solution that evolves as the threat develops to support reputable companies in their anti-counterfeiting management plan in line with ISO, AS, SAE and IEC requirements. Today AdaptixNDE can transform the economics of test, tomorrow the company aims to equip manufacturers and brokers in the war against the counterfeiters.