Playing Russian Roulette with Counterfeit Part Suppliers

By: SiliconExpert on September 10th, 2019

Business Area Challenges and the Evolution of MitigationA 5 Part Weekly Thought Leadership Article SeriesArticle 4: Playing Russian Roulette with Counterfeit Part Suppliers

Guest Author:  George Karalias, Industry Executive Consultant

Ever come to a point in product development where you are ready to go to production and find post design that you have a component that is obsolete, non-compliant from an environmental regulation or more simply – back-ordered for the next 6 months?  Have you searched the internet frantically looking for a replacement and found an option from an unauthorized source at a great price? Was that truly a win?

There’s a name for this type of game—it’s called Russian roulette. You can hope you won’t get hurt, but there’s a higher likelihood that you will. Or worse, someone else will when they use your product.

There are many types of non-authentic semiconductor components. For example, some counterfeits are just fake or damaged parts that, for any one of a number of reasons, don’t even work. Others are fully functioning components that have been inappropriately marked to indicate they are different (and usually more expensive) than what they really are. Other components have been modified to gather information or to purposely malfunction.

Ask yourself this: when do you think the flag was raised about the likelihood of this part being at risk for counterfeit? And we’re not talking only about high-reliability, high-priced components. Everyone is getting in line to buy less-expensive commodity parts that are in high demand because of all the tech innovations happening today. From capacitors to memory, they’re all on allocation these days.

It is impossible to make predictions, because the elements that make up the industry’s counterfeiting underbelly are both hidden and constantly changing. For example, counterfeiters may temporarily be discouraged by improved and new counterfeit detection techniques, but experience has shown that counterfeiters’ technology is never far behind detection technology, and in some cases, counterfeiters are even ahead in the technology game. All of this means that fewer counterfeit parts are detected.

You need to maintain an uninterrupted production process, but you must also be vigilant about what you install in your product. What may test fine initially may catastrophically fail in the field during rigorous use. Having accurate, real-time data on your components, from the design phase all the way through full production, is critical.

What if the procurement and inclusion of a counterfeit component within your product leads to personal injury or even death when they fail? Costly legal action ensues as well as impact to your brand.  Damage to a corporate reputation can sink a bottom line alone.

How do you avoid counterfeit components? The goal is having key insights and the right data at the right time. Of course, you want all of this without extra effort. Manual methods of deciphering data are not as seamless as a pure digital transformation of a company’s systems, which provides full reporting and alerts within a product life-cycle management platform. There’s no other solution that does this better than SiliconExpert.

Through the  SiliconExpert CONNECT Suite of data intelligence integrations, parts management and counterfeit identification and mitigation becomes a breeze.  Your Designers, Component Engineers, and Supply Chain Managers will have instant access to real time data, enabling them to make better decisions, faster, without ever having to leave the tools they work in every day.  And ultimately, faster, more accurate product delivery and production drives business growth.

To learn more about SiliconExpert’s new counterfeit identification and mitigation solutions, contact us at