Accreditations mark safe way forward

Vital Electronics’ QC lead, Joe Kryza

Vital Electronics’ QC lead, Joe Kryza, introduces procurement professionals to best practices for navigating the complexities and risks of counterfeit electronic components.

In the fast-paced, evolving world of electronics manufacturing, the integrity of electronic components stands as a foundation of product reliability and safety. However, the threat of counterfeit components looms large, posing significant challenges to manufacturers and purchasers alike.

Counterfeit components infiltrate supply chains through various channels, including unauthorised distributors and online platforms. These products, meticulously crafted to mimic genuine ones, present a variety of risks, from compromised performance to potential legal ramifications and catastrophic safety risks.

Central to mitigating counterfeit risk is the careful selection of reputable distributors. Partnering with distributors, such as Vital Electronics, that adhere to industry standards and accreditations, significantly mitigates the risk of encountering counterfeit components. By using distributors that adopt the following processes into their daily operations, procurement professionals will significantly reduce the risk of buying counterfeit components and improve the quality and reliability of their supply chains.

• ISO 9001 for quality management

• AS9120B for aviation, space and defence distribution

• AS6081 for counterfeit electronic parts avoidance

• ERAI membership for aerospace, defence, nuclear, medical and commercial sectors

• JOSCAR registration for aerospace, defence and security sectors

• BSI membership to underscore a commitment to upholding industry best practices

Obtaining these accreditations displays the highest level of commitment by distributors but it’s only the start of a continuous monitoring process. The organisations controlling these standards employ regular monitoring and audits to ensure all parties continually abide by
the meticulous testing requirements. Knowing these compliance schemes are in place enables risk- free decisions by sourcing professionals when they are looking to expand their supply chains with credible partners.

Inspecting electronic components upon receipt is crucial for counterfeit detection. Scrutinising packaging for quality indicators and examining components for irregularities in markings or physical attributes are key practices in identifying counterfeits.

Functional testing acts as a frontline defence, ensuring products meet performance parameters. Automated testing techniques like boundary scan and in- circuit testing enhance efficiency and accuracy.

Integrating advanced technologies, such as detailed visual inspections under magnification and techniques like x-ray, XRF and SEM inspections, are vital for improving counterfeit detection. Complementary tests, including chemical surface tests and decapsulation, correlate inner die markings to device top markings, further enhancing detection alongside standard testing.

When sourcing obsolete or long lead-time components through independent distributors, challenges like the absence of traceability and documentation occur. In such cases, a responsible independent distributor will rely on manufacturer datasheets, PCNs and databases like ERAI to authenticate devices based on available data, supporting the inspection process.

Safeguarding against counterfeit components is a multifaceted effort for electronic component procurement. A holistic approach that encompasses vendor diligence, documentation scrutiny, physical inspection, functional testing and leveraging advanced technologies, sourcing professionals can mitigate the risks associated with counterfeit components.

Industry standards have already been set, so partnering with independent distributors that adhere to industry accreditations will continue to be the way forward for a safer electronic components industry.