The electronics industry has been plagued by counterfeit electronic components for decades. Often used by unscrupulous manufacturers to cut costs, increase profits, or sell components that are not otherwise available, they can cause significant problems, including product failures, reliability issues, and safety concerns.
At MPE, we only use fully traceable components from renowned suppliers and provide Certificates of Conformity with each order. Not all contract electronics manufacturers offer the same promise. Don’t get caught out by substandard electronics equipment by following our list of 10 ways to avoid counterfeit electronic components in the PCB industry.
1. Source from authorised distributors
Authorised distributors are companies that have been approved by the component manufacturer to sell their products. They have direct access to the genuine components and can provide the necessary documentation and traceability. When sourcing components, it is important to verify that the distributor is authorised by the manufacturer.
2. Check the packaging
Counterfeit components are often packaged in different packaging from genuine components. Also check for signs of tampering, damage, or missing labels. Genuine components will have a label with the manufacturer’s logo, part number and date code.
3. Inspect the components
Check for signs of tampering, such as sanding or scraping. Counterfeit components are often modified to look like genuine components. Genuine components will have a consistent colour, markings and dimensions.
4. Look for component markings
These can include date codes and lot numbers. They provide valuable information about the components, help determine the authenticity of the components and provide traceability. Verify that the component markings are consistent with the manufacturer’s specifications.
5. Perform electrical testing
This will help to determine the functionality and authenticity of the components. It is important to test the components using the manufacturer’s recommended test methods and equipment.
6. Determine the component source
If the components were purchased from a broker, verify that the broker is reputable and has a history of selling genuine components. Be wary of components purchased from unknown sources.
7. Verify the component manufacturer
Counterfeit components often have a different manufacturer than genuine components. Verify that the manufacturer is legitimate and has a history of producing genuine components.
8. Ensure component manufacturer traceability
This can be done by checking the documentation provided by the distributor. Genuine components will have documentation, such as a Certificate of Conformity or a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Compliance.
9. Use trusted suppliers
Choose ones that have a reputation for selling genuine components. It is important to establish a relationship with trusted suppliers and to purchase components from them on a regular basis.
10. Educate employees
All employees should be aware of the dangers of counterfeit components and the importance of sourcing components from authorised distributors. Provide training on how to identify counterfeit components and how to perform the necessary tests to verify authenticity.
And finally – speak to an expert
If you have any concerns about the authenticity of your electronics components, then get in touch with one of the UK’s leading contract electronics manufacturers for expert help and advice.
MPE Electronics is an established and experienced contract electronics manufacturer specialising in PCB assemblies and full box build assembly for a wide range of commercial and industrial businesses.