Safeguarding Against Counterfeit Products
The growing presence of fake components within the supply chain represents a major problem for the global electronics industry. Though considerable effort has been put into policing counterfeiters, customers need to be fully aware of the dangers involved. They must remain vigilant, as incorporating counterfeit technology into designs can have dire consequences.
Counterfeit components for sale
Though procurement staff will not knowingly look to obtain fake components, sometimes they can find themselves forced down the route of making purchasing decisions that are far from ideal. This can result in components being bought through non-authorised distributors or resellers that would not normally be considered, simply because of the deadline pressures that procurement staff are under. In doing so, however, they are taking major risks.
Without going through a trusted supplier, they cannot be sure if the components ordered are genuine or not. The OEM procurement and engineering departments will thus have no idea about the production quality of these items or how they have been tested. This has the potential to undermine the reliability of the end product into which the components are incorporated and in doing so irrevocably damage the reputation of the OEM.
Even in the consumer sector this sort of practice is frankly unwise, but when OEMs are involved in mission-critical applications – such as avionics, motorsport, industrial automation and space – placing components into a design without complete assurance of their origin could potentially have life threatening consequences.
Minimizing the risk
The Anti-Counterfeiting Forum run by the UK Electrotechnical Systems Community recommends that electronic components should be sourced directly from the manufacturer or an authorised distributor. Best practice for detecting and mitigating against counterfeit components is outlined and includes advice for OEMs and authorised distributors to bear in mind, particularly to guard against purchasing via the grey market when striving to meet customer demands.
In order to mitigate the issue of counterfeiting, all Harwin products show batch codes on their packaging so that they can easily be traced. Furthermore, the company has taken the necessary measures to make its supply chain extremely resilient to prospective security breaches. In accordance with the Aviation Security Act, all our production facilities and warehouses are highly protected and regularly audited in relation to security. Likewise our worldwide network of distribution partners all have secure warehouses that are continuously inspected. This means that by dealing with Harwin and its authorised distributors, OEMs can ensure that the components procured are of the highest degrees of quality and will support prolonged operational lifespans even in the most challenging of application environments.
Popular product lines are available from stock, so sourcing at short notice will not prove to be a problem. However, if something has to be made to order, then lead times are likely to need taking into consideration – and this is where the temptation to buy from other sources comes in. In such cases it is therefore advised that the OEM engineering/procurement staff think about this aspect of the design sooner rather than later. By engaging with Harwin earlier on in the project, provision can be put in place for obtaining the components required. As a result, OEMs can avoid resorting to other sources that could be shipping counterfeit products. There are thus no question marks about reliability, and OEMs can feel safe in the knowledge that their brand integrity will remain completely unblemished.
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