In high-tech manufacturing, the use of sub-standard components can be catastrophic. There is no greater need for quality control than in printed circuit boards as they are only as good as the components installed on them and some components shipped to manufacturers are counterfeit! The problem is created because any part installed in the past will eventually become obsolete. So, to replace these parts, manufacturers to source them wherever they can find them.
Aeronautics and military applications are especially in need, as many fighter jets and passenger planes are in service for many years. Buyers make all attempts to locate parts through reputable sellers of used or refurbished components. Counterfeit parts show up in virtually every industry. Though strides are taken to prevent them from entering the market, it is impossible to catch them all. Even supposed reliable sources are not immune to this deception and often mix counterfeit parts in with genuine components to “pad” a shipment. Why do suppliers practice this deception? Money, of course. If you consider a part has a value of $90.00, and there is 1000 parts to a shipment, even a small percent pad can net a supplier hundreds of dollars from a single order.
Manufacturers do make efforts to sort out the good from the bad by conducting inspections before installation. But how is that done with 100% accuracy? It’s not easy. Many components are encased or flush-mounted, so a visual inspection is nearly impossible. Counterfeiters go to great lengths to try and pass off these false items, down to matching serial numbers and identification markings. Current estimates for the annual loss to the electronics industry due to counterfeit components is north of five billion dollars.
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