Today’s report on the value of seized counterfeit goods can be spun lots of ways. The good news is the value of what’s been nabbed is falling. What’s less certain is whether that means there are 1) fewer attempts by counterfeiters, 2) counterfeiters are getting better at sneaking product in, or 3) the recession forced down consumer demand for goods, which in turn lowered the incentive for traffickers to try to evade the border.
It’s true that faked goods, like oxygen, are coming from everywhere. (The link is to a blogged item on a recently broken up counterfeiting ring in Waxhaw, North Carolina. Waxhaw!) The SAE, which this year produced a series of standards on avoidance and detection of counterfeit electronic components, pegs the current value of illicit parts at between $1 billion and $10 billion annually.
However, my take is that such estimates are exaggerated, particularly on the high end, the byproduct of extrapolation upon extrapolation. But I do think there’s a problem here, and I like seeing Customs’ and others reporting on the issue because it keeps the pressure on to address it.
If we group the terms counterfeit and reworked components into a single context, we at World Micro are not seeing a drop in rejected components. What we are seeing is the level of workmanship from the “bad guys” increasing at a rapid rate. Recently there have been illegal product that only the most experienced well trained inspectors using the best equipment could detect.
For example, there are reports of a process that grinds off the old part number, the dust is saved and mixed with a bonding agent and replaced back on to the component. The new part number is then placed on top of the replacement top coating. This is very difficult to detect even with high power microscopy. Fortunately World Micro has developed a procedure that has proven to be effective resulting in these parts being rejected.
Keep in mind, the vast majority of brokers either do not have a certified Quality inspection process to detect counterfeit material or their process is not effective at catching them. Contact http://www.IDofEA.org for a list of well qualified distributors who are trained to detect counterfeit components.
Require your suppliers to be compliant with AS 5553 and IDEA-STD-1010 inspection standards. Additionally, their inspectors should be certified to the IDEA-ICE-3000 “Professional Inspector” program. This will go a long way towards having a supplier you can trust.
Don’t ever accept the notion that the counterfeiting of electronic components is decreasing. It is not. It is just getting much harder to detect.
Quality Has No Finish Line!