Electronics Assembly Knowledge, Vision & Wisdom
Ideas for Identifying Counterfeit Components
Ideas for Identifying Counterfeit Components
Expert Bob Willis explains some nondestructive methods for identifying counterfeit components - before they go on your boards.
Analysis Lab

Authored By:
Bob Willis - http://www.bobwillis.co.uk
Bob Willis operates a training and consultancy business based in England.
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Reader Comment

We perform contract manufacturing for a variety of industries, including avionics, military and medical. We have a policy whereby we adhere to the customer's Bill of Materials, which in almost all cases for us includes manufacturers and manufacturer's part numbers, and only buy through franchised distributors. If those materials are not available due to obsolescence or other reasons, we try to find suitable alternates which the customer must approve. As a last resort, we will buy through brokers, but they are carefully selected, and only used with our customer's permission. Membership in GIDEP and ERAI may be helpful as well. These may be rules you could out into place, if counterfeit components are a concern.

Bill Belanger, Janco Electronics, Inc., USA
Reader Comment

I just watched Bob Willis' video and there are some good ideas there, but what if you don't have a "Golden Board"? Let's say this is a 1st run board with new parts on it. How does one inspect to see if part is good or counterfeit?

Another very important question that comes to mind is "Who is responsible for inspection"? Let's say we hire a Board Shop to do this process completely turnkey. I supply the Contractor with boards from the PCB Fab Shop and my Contractor buys all the parts and then builds my boards. Now I get the boards back and they work for a few weeks, and then I get calls that they are not working. Soon to my dismay I find out there were counterfeit parts used and these parts passed inspection buy my contractor. How do I enforce strict rules on my Contractor to inspect for this? Even worse now I have 10's of thousands of scrap boards and a damaged reputation with my end customer. Whose financial responsibility is it to completely redo these boards? Not just the assembly portion, but having to re-Fab all the raw boards.

This subject is a can of worms that could be avoided with VERY strict guidelines setup in the beginning. What do you suggest?

Tommy Ligotti, RT Logic
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