MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Counterfeit parts are increasingly finding their way into mission critical military and healthcare equipment, with the number of fake electronic parts soaring dramatically over the past couple of years, according to market research organization IHS iSuppli.
IHS reported a fourfold increase in counterfeit-part incidents worldwide from just 324 in 2009 to 1,363 in 2011, after a thorough investigation of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), contract manufacturers, component suppliers, buyers and other supply chain participants.
The firm said this marked the first time the number of reported incidents in a single year had exceeded 1,000 and warned that the actual total could encompass millions of purchased parts.
The most disturbing aspect of the uptick in counterfeiting, however, is the increased frequency in which fake parts are surfacing in the military and aerospace industry, posing a serious threat to both human life and national security, not to mention the financial implications of fixing the errors once they’re discovered.
“We have men and women out there, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, using potentially dangerous equipment made with counterfeit parts,” one engineer noted in a recent focus group EE Times attended.
“The counterfeit issue is serious, it’s growing and it’s a major problem for electronics makers—especially military and aerospace companies,” said Rory King, director, supply chain product marketing at IHS.
The problem, said King, was becoming increasingly hard to ignore, with many companies blind to the risks owing to lack of awareness for the issue and the difficulty in detecting fake parts.
“The reporting done by the industry can help other organizations pinpoint risky parts or suppliers,” said King, noting that the U.S. government was just starting to implement stricter regulations to stem the proliferation of fake components, making defense suppliers accountable for counterfeit issues.
The act means contractors are now responsible for detecting and avoiding the use of counterfeit or suspected counterfeit electronic parts, while making them face the financial burden of fixing any problems caused if fake parts are found. It also demands the implementation of qualification procedures and processes to weed out fakes by using only trusted and authorized suppliers and testing equipment with tools able to analyze and assess parts.
According to IHS, a typical bill of materials for a military/defense program can have anywhere from a few hundred to over tens of thousands of purchased parts, of which between 0.5 to 5 percent typically match incidents of counterfeit. The same is true for medical equipment, said IHS.
Most of this discussion seems to swirl around one specific source of counterfeit parts. Perhaps the military and Congress should consider a specific restriction to prevent ANY parts from that country until counterfeit issues are resolved there. Similar issues have existed with medical materials from there, as was shown a few years with Heparin quality problems manufactured with organic source materials that were contaminated with WWII-era-developed antibiotics. When will we stop thinking that we "can't afford to have it made in the USA", when our very lives may depend on doing so?
The term "Counterfeit parts" would also require clarification to determine where the solution to the problem lies. If a part does not meet the specifications for the application, but is marked and identified as such, is that considered counterfeit? Or are these parts truly "reverse engineered" and re-manufactured to a lower standard and quality? Solutions could be completely different for each.
Elemental fingerprinting is a fast, non-destructive technique that could provide low cost test method for detecting counterfeit components. This solution is being deployed by some defense contractors. I agree that critical military components should only be manufactured in USA
The Levin-McCain amendment to the 2012 NDAA includes "used" components which are claimed to be "new" within the definition of counterfeit parts. While they certainly are undesirable, potentially dangerous, and cheat the buyer, they don't fit my definition of "counterfeit". "Misrepresented" or "non-compliant" might be better descriptions. Knowing what portion of the statistics are based upon "used" components being misrepresented as "new" might help guide efforts to address the problem.
Thank You EE Times for articles like this ... in the beginning ... when FAB or Not to FAB (???), questions were coming up ... the arguments to keep production close to main company were Control & Quality over what was being produced ... The Experts said that when everything was out-sourced - Control & Quality would NOT be a problem ... The Experts won but i think we were all lied to !
The Russians said their Martian probe crashed before leaving earth's orbit because a counterfeit electronic part from China. But is not realistic to use US made, or Russia made for that matter, parts, lot of things are NOT made in US anymore.
That's probably true for many components within the supply chain of many military products. As the world becomes more interconnected, the superpowers will no longer be those that have the bombs and missiles, etc. It will be those that "manufacture" the products of peace and war.
Although that used to be the case, that is no longer possible. We used to have the facilities to manufacture "security critical" chips at some government-owned facilities, but those have fallen due to budgetary issues. And it would not be possible to currently manufacture ALL "mission critical" IC's in the States, the resources just are not there anymore.
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