Mitigating the risk of counterfeit components entering the supply chain

In the current market, design engineers frustrated by interruptions to their supply chain may resort to sourcing components from unfamiliar distribution sources.

However, this decision is fraught with risk because some unauthorised distributors choose to source their components from the “grey market.”The provenance of such parts is often unknown, meaning their authenticity cannot be determined.

It can be difficult to distinguish a counterfeit component from the genuine part because they are deliberately packaged to appear identical — featuring the same manufacturer branding and part number. Determining if a part is fake or genuine can only be done by carefully examining the internals of the package, a task that requires the use of an X-ray machine and specific testing skills.

A major concern associated with counterfeit components is that there is a high probability that they have not undergone the same rigorous levels of testing and quality control procedures that genuine parts have been subjected to. This means that they are more likely to exhibit inferior levels of performance, or even fail, in the field. Engineers who use counterfeit components could be exposed to legal actions relating to product faults. With chip shortages still occurring with some products, individuals and OEMs are advised to only source components from authorised distributors with systems in place that allow them to trace their components back to the point of manufacture. This is especially important for components intended for use in medical or aerospace applications, which must have relevant documents and certification.

Mouser Electronics was the industry’s first authorised distributor to be accredited with AS6496, the aerospace industry’s high standard for anti-counterfeit measures in authorised electronic component distribution. The AS6496 aerospace standard sets requirements for the avoidance, detection, mitigation, and disposition of counterfeit products in the authorised distribution supply chain. This international standard requires authorised distributors to have a counterfeit mitigation policy and a counterfeit electronics parts control plan. AS6496 is geared for all industries and individuals looking to reduce the risk of counterfeit electronic parts entering the supply chain. Mouser is also registered to AS9100D, ISO 9001:2015, and ANSI/ESD S20.20-2014, the industry’s gold standards for quality, control, and electrostatic discharge (ESD). Registration to these standards lets customers know that Mouser is an authorised distributor of the highest quality components by providing traceability, risk management, process control, customer support, product availability, and document control.

Mouser has rigorous processes in place to prevent counterfeit products entering its supply chain, so customers can be confident that the components they purchase are genuine. In addition to product integrity, Mouser also assists its customers through real-time stock updates and obsolescence management and offers a variety of technical tools and resources to assist the design engineer. Today, Mouser has 27 support locations worldwide, offering localised service for more than 650,000 customers in their local language, currency, and time zone. Inside Mouser’s vast Global Distribution Centre, you will find the industry’s widest selection of products from over 1,200 manufacturer brands, with new products being added on a daily basis — all authorised, of course.

An article by Mark Patrick, Technical Marketing Manager for EMEA Marketing at Mouser Electronics.