Do counterfeit components pose real problems today?
The issue of counterfeiting is a major issue in many areas from designer goods to cosmetics and much more. The electronic components industry is not immune from the problem, and there are major consequences for companies found with counterfeit components, even if they are used by accident. Even having counterfeit components in stock is a major issue.
Whilst there is stiff legislation in the US regarding counterfeit components, the issue may not the problem some make it out to be.
Often counterfeit components enter the supply chain when they come from suppliers who buy surplus stock from non-audited sources. Brokers that used to sell surplus stock provided an ideal point of entry for many counterfeit components, especially as there were a very few less careful about their sources than others.
However if components are bought from reputable distributors who have audited supply trails then there is very little risk of finding counterfeit components within the stock, especially these days.
Managing relationships combined with regular audits is key to maintaining counterfeit free stock. Reputable distributors will be able to ensure the risk of counterfeit components entering the supply chain is virtually zero. Distributors are intent on building long term relationships and
The situation has changed considerably in the past ten years. At that time there was a major issue with counterfeit components. Whilst the quality of the components was often very good, the counterfeit versions did not feed any revenue back into development and as a result it risked the future of the electronics industry. Also in some cases counterfeit components were of inferior quality and could pose a risk to some high reliability functions. Accordingly it is essential that for mission critical applications, high quality components from known sources are used.
Care is always needed to ensure that counterfeit components are not bought or used, but by taking the right precautions of using reputable distributors and manufacturers, along with maintaining audit trails, then the chance of picking up counterfeit components should be very small.