The SAE standard AS-5553, Counterfeit Electronic Parts; Avoidance, Detection, Mitigation, and Disposition, was released in 2009 to help manufacturers avoid the use of counterfeit components. With electronic component fakes posing an increasing threat to U.S. manufacturing, from military to medical devices, the standard supports processes geared to counterfeit avoidance and discovery.
The problem of counterfeit parts is plaguing both the military and private sector. U.S. customs has seized 5.6 million counterfeit chips between November 2007 and May 2010, with untold millions getting though anyway. As reported by the San Jose Mercury this month, 3,868 counterfeit incidents were reported in 2005 where the military and its suppliers found bogus electronics. By 2008, that number had risen to 9,356.
AS5553 is designed for use by aerospace and military manufacturers and contractors. It provides uniform requirements, practices and methods to mitigate the risk of receiving and installing counterfeit electronic parts. Of course, no standard can guarantee that counterfeit components will be avoided, but the document does provide a framework for minimizing risk.
As such, the SAE G-19 committee developed a set of requirements, practices and methods geared to provide benchmarks for parts management, vendor management, procurement, inspection and test evaluation and of course, what to do when counterfeit parts are discovered.
Both NASA and NAVAIR have adopted the use of this standard already. And studies this year by the Department of Commerce and by the GAO (Government Accounting Office) have again pointed out the vulnerability of the military to “knock-off” electronic chips.
Military contractors and others should be proactive in developing defensible and effective practices for avoiding the use of fakes in commercial products. Bogus electronics pose a real threat to the population at large and to the military in particular.
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