How Many Fake Parts Are In Your Supply Chain?

Counterfeit parts are increasingly infiltrating the electronics supply chain, and now anywhere between five to 20 percent of components in common consumer electronics are "probably" counterfeit, according to a new article in Engineering & Technology magazine, a publication of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

In the article, "The Global Trade in Counterfeit Consumer Electronics," author Kris Sangani points out that counterfeiters are becomingly progressively more adept at manufacturing fake components. That means, of course, that methods to detect counterfeit products also need to be more complex.

But, short of x-raying each component, what can electronics manufacturers do? And what about supply chains in other sectors? How can you mitigate risks and maintain the integrity of your supplier network?

For starters, use a multi-pronged approach. Traditionally, counterfeit parts have been seen as strictly a supply chain issue. But, Ruth Thomson of Cambridge Consultants says the problem has grown too big for just that one silo. In the article, she recommends layering multiple anti-counterfeiting measures, such as track-and-trace systems, anti-tamper strategies and both overt and covert authentication methods.

These days, more and more electronics components are recovered from recycled e-waste. Plus, it's easier than ever before to trade parts internationally online. So, without question, the global electronics supply chain is particularly vulnerable to counterfeiters. But, don't be fooled. Fake components are penetrating supply chains in all sectors, and they pose a risk to your intellectual property, your reputation, and your warranties and returns. In some cases, even the end users' health and safety can be compromised, as well.

If you're not talking about the risks of counterfeit parts in your supply chain, it's time to start. Sangani's article is a good place to begin the conversation.

TAGS: Finance
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