mobile | classic
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology Magazine





Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn


Search...

Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2017


 

From the editor's desk: Fake chips aren’t going away
16 August 2017, News

Anyone who’s designed and tested electronic circuits will tell you, having a circuit that doesn’t work is not the worst that can happen; it’s the intermittent faults that really hurt. For a product that’s gone into full production, having those products begin to fail in the field is about the worst outcome the manufacturer can face, necessitating repairs, recalls and possibly even redesigns. All of these problems, and many others besides, can be caused by fake or counterfeit electronic components.

It’s important to have a clear definition of what exactly makes a fake component fake, and the US Department of Commerce provides a definition of a counterfeit electronic part as “one that is not genuine because it: is an unauthorised copy; does not conform to original OCM (original component manufacturer) design, model or performance standards; is not produced by the OCM or is produced by unauthorised contractors; is an off-specification, defective, or used OCM product sold as ‘new’ or working; or has incorrect or false markings or documentation, or both.”

You may imagine these counterfeit chips being manufactured using cobbled together or out-of-date manufacturing equipment in a factory off some back alley in Shanghai and loaded into the back of an unmarked truck in the dead of night, but there are in fact several ways for them to find their way into the supply chain. While many are indeed made on illegal production lines, they are not always of such poor quality as to fail immediately, or at all, but substandard or non-existent cleanliness, packaging and testing means they almost never meet the guaranteed specifications of the ‘real McCoy’.

Other ways for them to be dispersed is by being salvaged from electronic waste, cleaned up and sold on the grey market. Buyers in particular risk of this tactic are those looking to obtain obsolete parts that are critical to their product’s design. Your best bet is always to buy from the original component manufacturer or one of their authorised distributors/resellers. Some companies even buy up stock of soon-to-be-obsolete parts and stockpile them, providing a legitimate supply source far beyond their obsolescence date.

There have also been claims of manufacturing rejects being packaged, marked and interjected into the supply chain as fully tested devices, by someone with access to the production facility. Amazon had a scare recently with stories of fake AMD processors showing up for sale, supposedly originating from a case of a customer who returned one as faulty, in its original and apparently unopened packaging, only to be resold to an unsuspecting buyer.

It’s not only unscrupulous or desperate electronics manufacturers who fall victim to counterfeit components. Last year three Chinese men pleaded guilty to conspiring to buy genuine field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) stolen from a US Navy base and replacing them with fake versions. An undercover agent foiled the plot before the duds could find their way into critical weapons systems.

The problem of counterfeit components has reached such proportions that the Silicon Industry Association (SIA) in the USA has set up an anti-counterfeiting task force which works continuously to curtail the supply and demand for these illegal products and to educate customers on how to avoid purchasing counterfeits. The association produced a 28-page white paper in 2013 which described the size of the problem and methods to mitigate the dangers. While it goes into much detail, the upshot of that white paper amounts to what should be considered common sense:

“As compared to the authorised market, the open market, including independent distributors, brokers, and Internet-based component exchanges, has far fewer controls over proper handling, storage and transportation of components, and often lacks component traceability to the manufacturer. This lack of controls and traceability, along with the frequency and ease at which components move through this non-authorised supply chain make the open market an easy target for counterfeiters to infiltrate to sell their illegal products that often have poor reliability. Semiconductor products purchased on the open market may be cheaper in the short-term than those bought from authorised sources, but they can be far more expensive in the long-term if they are counterfeit and/or were improperly handled and stored, thus potentially resulting in major rework costs and high warranty or liability claims.”

Postscript:

Have you ever been the victim of counterfeit components, or do you know of anyone who has? Send me your story – anonymously if you wish – to brett@technews.co.za

Brett van den Bosch

Editor


Credit(s)
Supplied By: Technews Publishing
Tel: +27 11 543 5800
Fax: +27 11 787 8052
Email: malckey@technews.co.za
www: www.technews.co.za
  Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn    

Further reading:

  • Electronics news digest
    31 January 2018, News
    South Africa • Reunert delivered strong results for fiscal 2017, with revenue of R9,77 billion representing a 15% year-on-year increase and profit increasing by 19% to R1,14 billion. Headline earnings ...
  • Don’t be fooled by substandard, cheap antennas
    31 January 2018, Poynting Antennas, This Week's Editor's Pick, News, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless
    Poynting has issued a public service announcement warning that it is seeing a large number of sub-standard antennas being sold to the public.
  • From the editor's desk: IoT protocols battle it out
    31 January 2018, Technews Publishing, News
    As the number of Internet of Things (IoT) applications grows, so too does the number of protocols supporting this proliferation. While each protocol has its own strengths and weaknesses, the resulting ...
  • Bird Technologies and Comtest launch new product in SA
    31 January 2018, Comtest, News
    Comtest Solutions recently hosted Bird Technologies’ sales manager, Mike Gathergood, at its Gauteng offices, as part of an extensive tour across the EMEA region he services, with a two-pronged objective. ...
  • SKA confirms synchronisation system designs
    31 January 2018, News
    One of the most critical and challenging design aspects of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project, namely time synchronisation, came a step closer to resolution recently when the board ...
  • Monash offering engineering degrees
    31 January 2018, News
    Monash South Africa (MSA) has announced its academic offering for 2018 will be expanding, by offering engineering degrees within its expanded Faculty of Business, Engineering and Technology. The first ...
  • NWU speech research group joins engineering faculty
    31 January 2018, News
    The Multilingual Speech Technology research group (MuST) within the North-West University is joining forces with the NWU Faculty of Engineering in 2018. This research group focuses its efforts on the ...
  • Company profile: Connector Technology
    31 January 2018, Connector Technology, News
    Stretching back to 1992, Connector Technology has been providing customised connector, cabling and harnessing solutions for the South African electronics manufacturing industry. Today the company has ...
  • From the editor's desk: Innovation + education + incubation = a winning formula?
    EMP 2018 Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook, Technews Publishing, News
    There’s never been a better time for someone with an innovative idea to see it realised with a working design, but successfully launching a product in a crowded market has arguably never been harder. ...
  • High-speed design expert completes SA seminar
    15 November 2017, EDA Technologies, News
    Internationally renowned expert Lee Ritchey returned to South Africa in October to present a course on high-speed printed circuit board (PCB) design. This follows a similar visit in March last year, ...
  • Electronics news digest
    15 November 2017, News
    South Africa • The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) hosted the inaugural Fifth Generation (5G) forum meeting from 1-2 November 2017 in Sandton. It stressed to the public that ...
  • Eskom Expo rewards young scientists
    15 November 2017, News
    The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF) 2017 recognised some of the exceptional projects on display at an awards ceremony held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg.

 
 
         
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual





 

         
    Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.