Counterfeit electronic components standard issued by SAE International

WARRENDALE, Pa., 16 Oct. 2009. Experts at SAE International completed a new electronics standard aimed at mitigating the risks involved with receiving and installing counterfeit electronic parts.

WARRENDALE, Pa., 16 Oct. 2009. Experts at SAE International completed a new electronics standard aimed at mitigating the risks involved with receiving and installing counterfeit electronic parts.

The standard – already adopted by the U.S. Department of Defense – addresses the performance, reliability and safety risks caused by the increasing volume of counterfeit parts entering the aerospace supply chain.

The SAE standard, "AS5553 – Counterfeit Electronic Parts; Avoidance, Detection, Mitigation, and Disposition," standardizes the requirements, practices, and methods related to parts management, supplier management, procurement, inspection, test/evaluation, and response strategies when suspected or confirmed counterfeit parts are discovered, SAE officials say.

The SAE public release refers to a study by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry & Security, that states the number of counterfeit incidents reported by 387 participants climbed from 3,868 in 2005 to 9,356 in 2008, an increase of more than 140 percent. About nine percent of the companies documented cases related to government applications.

"Quite simply, it's a huge problem," says Phil Zulueta, chair for SAE's Counterfeit Electronic Parts Committee. "We've seen a 140 percent increase of counterfeit incidents in three years, but that's only what the U.S. Department of Commerce has been able to document. The problem is unquestionably bigger than this. That figure only accounts for the incidents reported, and the majority of incidents go unreported."

The globalization of the aerospace industry and the resulting diversity of regional and national requirements have complicated the problem. Assuring the quality and integration of products purchased from suppliers throughout the world, and at all levels within the supply chain, has become increasingly difficult.

When original equipment manufacturers can no longer buy from an original component manufacturer, they must go to the open market and find a broker who can supply the equipment, according to the SAE release. Counterfeiters are aware of the shortages and begin approaching brokers with the bogus goods. Brokers must rely on the word of the suppliers and have no way of determining if the electronic parts are bogus.

"The longer the supply stream, the more opportunity for counterfeiters to slip bogus parts into the mix," Zulueta says. "When the parts changes hands multiple times, it becomes rather easy for them to get in the supply chain. It is a huge, expensive problem."

The control plan includes processes to specifically address counterfeit part risk mitigation methods in electronic design and parts management, supplier management, procurement, part verification, material control and response strategies when suspect or confirmed counterfeit parts are discovered.

The SAE International standard calls for:
- maximized availability of authentic parts;
- procurement of parts from reliable sources;
- assuring authenticity and conformance of procured parts;
- control of parts identified as counterfeit; and
- reporting counterfeit parts to other potential users and government investigative authorities.

"AS5553 – Counterfeit Electronic Parts; Avoidance, Detection, Mitigation, and Disposition" was created by SAE International's Counterfeit Electronic Parts Committee.

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