Developments in Counterfeiting Make Test Labs Essential

At Advanced Component Testing one thing has become clear over the past several months: as the methods used in the production of counterfeit components are getting more advanced, the processes put in place to detect them must evolve.  “We’ve seen a rise in components that pass visual tests and other standard tests like Marking Permanency, but are eventually proven to be counterfeit,” said Mike Zambito, VP of Operations for Advanced Component Testing.   “For this reason, a government approved, certified lab like Advanced Component Testing is necessary. With cutting-edge testing capabilities and a commitment to staying up to date on the latest testing technologies, Advanced Component Testing is able to stay one step ahead of the counterfeiters.”

Counterfeit components have been a growing concern over the last decade, but recent years have seen an increase in the number of counterfeit parts entering the Global Supply Chain and thus, a greater demand for a solution.  When these counterfeit components find their way into industries such as aerospace, aviation, medical, military and defense, a failed component could have catastrophic consequences for these critical applications.  This has driven these industries, as well as the U.S. Government, to call for improved measures to certify the Global Supply Chain.

When the government passed the National Defense Authorization Act early in 2013, it urged manufacturers doing work for the United States government to buy from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) or an OEM authorized channel partner, but for most manufacturers this is not always possible.  Hard to find, obsolete or end-of-life Electronic Components usually need to be sourced from Independent Distributors- often where the problem occurs.  A 2012 market study by HIS found that 57% of all counterfeit parts were obsolete or end-of-life components.  This is not a surprise, as it is not unusual for these obsolete components to travel through several suppliers before reaching the manufacturer, leaving many chances for counterfeit components to enter the supply chain along the way.

Counterfeit components have several different origins, all of which can lead to components that function less reliably.  Often these components are salvaged from electronic waste and blacktopped, but counterfeit components may also be reverse engineered, and many of these counterfeiters are using increasingly sophisticated technologies to pass off imitation components as authentic.   Some subpar suppliers and counterfeiters are using similar technologies that legitimate component manufacturers use, in order to produce substandard parts that look authentic.

As a result, the standard tests used by many electronic component distributors such as visual testing and marking permanency testing, may not be enough to detect counterfeit components anymore.   This makes the task of ensuring authenticity in their components increasingly difficult on independent distributors.   These distributors will now need to rely on quality laboratory equipment to test component samples.    This is where certified laboratories like Advanced Component Testing are becoming an essential step in safeguarding the Global Supply Chain against substandard product.

Manufacturers should also protect themselves by demanding that the independent distributors they are purchasing from are using certified test labs, or by using test laboratories themselves to test their incoming electronic components.   It is not uncommon for dishonest distributors to lie about test results or the authentication and origin of electronic components.  Using a certified test laboratory can help ensure that you are receiving quality components.

Advanced Component Testing is currently one of the select few government approved, ISO 17025 certified laboratories that provide comprehensive counterfeit mitigation services, including functional electrical testing, to a wide range of customers.  Servicing both the military and commercial industries, Advanced Component Testing provides a full array of component testing services that help provide the peace-of-mind that manufacturers are using authentic components. Implementing the most current counterfeit detection technology, combined with our proprietary database, experienced engineers, industry compliant testing procedures, and state of the art equipment, makes Advanced Component Testing a leader in counterfeit component detection.

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