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Industry Orgs Fight Back against Counterfeits

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 3:19am
Barry LaFontaine, Quality Manager, Fusion Trade
Barry LaFontaine is Quality Manager Fusion Trade  A few weeks back I offered how new technologies are working towards thwarting the efforts of counterfeiters. I discussed how savvy distributors of electronic components are employing X-rays, depcap machinery, high-powered microscopes and XRF photo florescence to keep faulty products from entering the supply chain. But, truly, the onus to combat such criminals isn’t the sole responsibility of individual distributors, but rather the industry as a whole.

Fortunately, with the increase in counterfeit activity has come an emergence of quality-focused organizations dedicated to supporting collaborative attempts to keep counterfeiters at bay. Working collectively provides greater ground cover for independent distributors, secures OEMs, and ultimately protects consumers.

One such organization that is establishing and reinforcing trust within the marketplace is the Electrostatics Discharge Association (ESD) with its ANSI ASD 20.20 certification. While ANSI certification is sought by companies looking to maintain the highest standing, at minimum all companies should remain compliant with the standards set forth. The importance of these standards can’t be understated; electronic parts are incredibly sensitive to static electricity and product deterioration can be slight enough not to be easily noticed, but severe enough to impede product performance.

ISO certification also helps to ensure the authenticity of a product by requiring companies to develop and document sound business processes. By ensuring that everyone is conducting business within certain guidelines, customers better understand how processes work, and are thereby afforded greater protections – and, further confidence in product authenticity. Any distributor with a significant customer base will be ISO certified.

Finally, one of the most reputable organizations for distributors is the Independent Distributors of Electronics Association (IDEA), the leading resource for independent distributors. IDEA offers relevant quality information; advances industry ethics; ensures customer satisfaction; establishes standards; and promotes education. Individual members of a company can achieve IDEA certification, and those distributors truly serious about quality ensure that their inspectors qualify to IDEA’s rigorous standards.

But even as distributors can’t act in silos, neither can the quality organizations themselves. It is the responsibility of each to share information on fraudulent parts with all standardized organizations and then, in turn, with their distributor membership. Only with open lines of communication can the industry cure itself of the infection that is counterfeit parts. Beyond fraudulent components, these organizations also have a responsibility to report on other business barriers, such as non-payment of funds.
In the end, organizations are only as good as the participation of their membership, and frequent updates suggest that each association is indeed active. Knowledge is power, and the more the electronic components industry can acquire, the better off we’ll all be.

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