Why Do Electronics Companies Need To Test For Counterfeit Components?

Category: Blog, Electronics Testing Blog

Counterfeit products

Introduction

Whether you’re a manufacturer of electronics equipment or an importer of components, you could be affected by counterfeit electronic components. Counterfeit products are a major concern for the electronics industry as they are difficult to detect and could potentially lead to serious consequences.This year in the UK, there have been around 175 incidents of counterfeit components; with the number expected to rise next year due to component lead times extending. That’s evidence that this is a real and concerning issue, so companies should take action to ensure they’re not affected.

Quality standards are not being met as counterfeiters are exploiting long lead items, non-RoHS requirements, natural disaster supply chain issues and procurement prioritising price.

Why should your company care? Because counterfeit components could have devastating effects on your business, and the industry as a whole.

Reputation

Trust is important in a supply chain, but once counterfeit components have been detected, those trusting relationships are broken. You may have bought from a reputable distributor but with increased levels of global trading, they may have unknowingly been supplied with counterfeit goods.

Effective quality control to test components against reliable ones usually stops counterfeit components travelling further down the supply chain, but often standards of testing are not high enough and they go undetected. This leads to broken relationships, and often disputes end in legal action, taken to recuperate the cost of consequential loss of revenue, profit and jobs.

If your company supply products containing counterfeit components, it can severely affect the reputation of your business. Therefore ensuring your company tests components is vital.

Safety

Finished products may be genuine, but they pose potential dangers when they contain counterfeit components. Counterfeit components can dramatically change the safety level of an electrical product, as they are far more likely to malfunction. When components fail they can cause damage to equipment, cause serious injury and in an extreme case, result in fatality.

Counterfeit components have been detected in the hospital and military industries, which poses risks to those who work with the electronic equipment. In 2011, Raytheon notified the U.S. Naval Supply Systems Command that suspect counterfeit components had been put into Electromagnetic Interference Filters. The EIFs are used in Forward Looking InfraRed System, which is used in helicopters to provide low light and night vision capabilities. These helicopters are used for medical evaluations, mine detection and pilot rescues. If the EIF were to fail, this would lead to failure in the FLIR. The pilot would not be able to avoid hazards, identify targets or carry out missions at night. Although Raytheon were unaware until alerted, there could have been serious consequences for the pilot, flight crew and numerous others.

Economy

If the issue of counterfeiting continues, it could have a devastating effect on the UK economy and the companies involved. Currently, estimates are based from statistics taken from the U.S. electronics industry. If counterfeiting continues to grow, it could cost the UK approximately £30bn and put 14, 800 jobs in jeopardy.
Figures in the U.S. show that counterfeit components are currently at an estimate of 9{120c34026d7b1c228003d9b05d386cb66cd5606d09d8d1599f58d8ccdc2bb681}. If counterfeiting were at 1{120c34026d7b1c228003d9b05d386cb66cd5606d09d8d1599f58d8ccdc2bb681} in Europe, there would still be an annual loss of over £10bn to the European engineering industry. This shows how serious counterfeiting is, and that the economy is being threatened. Counterfeit components cause a real loss to the engineering industry, therefore it is vital to ensure that everyone within the industry continues to detect, test and report any counterfeit components.

Conclusion

Acting on counterfeiting is important to ensure the reputation of your business and the safety of your customers. Counterfeit components pose a real threat to the electronics and engineering industry, therefore you must make sure you are taking action in detecting counterfeits. What should you do? You can improve your detection practices, comply with relevant regulations and get your products and components rigorously tested.

For more information and help on electronics counterfeit components: http://www.anticounterfeitingforum.org.uk/

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