“We see counterfeit components in most factories we visit. Your systems may not be as robust as you think”
We first took up formal training in 2009 with the Components Technology Institute and found it to be a useful addition to our existing experience. All of our warehouse personnel are qualified in counterfeit detection and we carry out regular in house training to keep everyone up to date with the latest techniques.
If you suspect that your anti counterfeit procedures are inadequate to protect yourself and your customers perhaps it is time to call upon outside help. Many PCBA companies are content to trust their suppliers to protect them from counterfeit. While this is a great starting place it is never a good idea to subcontract entirely, such a critical part of your quality program.
We have built our expertise on years of hands on experience protecting our own customers from counterfeit. We began learning about counterfeit electronic components in 2005 but didn't see any actual cases until 2007. Since then we have invested considerably to ensure we stay ahead of the counterfeiters. We have assisted many of our customers in counterfeit prevention and detection procedures.
Dictionary definition; to make an imitation or copy of (something), usually with the intent to defraud.
In simple terms counterfeit is something that is misrepresented in some way to mislead a potential buyer.
There are many different counterfeit strategies adopted by criminals but most of the time the counterfeiter is trying to pass off used or refurbished parts as new. Usually this means they need to make the component look new. This involves re-marking parts, often collected from e-waste. Remarking is done to make what would otherwise be a random pile of components with a variety of date codes look like an original pack, reel or trays etc. To make the parts look new, often a method called black topping is required so they can hide the original markings and then remark the parts to look like the original, with uniform date codes. If this process is used it leaves behind many clues for the counterfeit detector to spot which makes up part of the anti-counterfeit process. There are of course many varieties of counterfeit parts ranging from empty IC carriers (parts with no silicon die inside) to alternative brands being passed off as a more popular brand. The Anti-counterfeit section in our blog will highlight some examples in the coming months.