Another article blaming contractors for DoD’s counterfeit parts problem

Here is yet another article blaming contractors for DoD’s counterfeit parts problem …

“Counterfeit Electronics and the China Connection”
by Michael Pecht and Len Zuga, CALCE Electronic Products and Systems Center
SMT Magazine, April 2012

This is the second article I’ve seen over the past five months co-authored by Dr. Pecht of UMD that includes the basic theme blaming contractors “who placed expediency and profit above all else.” (here is the first)

I am concerned that this article presents this theme in a sweeping fashion and as universal truth. Are there contractors who fit this description? Perhaps. From my experience, it is not accurate to paint the contractor community at large with such a broad brush.

Speaking for the business unit I work for- this is not the case. In fact, the due diligence we apply to detect counterfeits among those offered on the open market is not an expedient path, nor is it “profit-friendly” (not for us as the buyer anyway). Based on my engagement with colleagues and subject matter experts working for other A&D contractors, I find that those who have established robust counterfeit avoidance practices report the same.

My writings on the subject of counterfeit parts avoidance include discussions about what tends to drive A&D contractors to source products from the open market, e.g. unresolved obsolescence issues, sudden disruptions in authorized supply, etc.

For your consideration,

Henry Livingston

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3 thoughts on “Another article blaming contractors for DoD’s counterfeit parts problem

  1. Typically those (Pecht) who speak in absolutes usually an indicate a modicum of immaturity. Not their intent, I am sure, but that is what can be surmised and this can undermine the credibility of other valid statements made.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The DoD cannot hope to implement a consumer electronics-style supply chain as prescribed in the conclusion of the CALCE article. The counterfeit electronics problem was caused by the consumer electronics supply chain, where high volume production is driven by rapid obsolescence and poor, reactionary, just-get-rid-of-it disposal (shipment to poorer countries for “recycling”). DoD simply does not have the volumes to command entire production factories as does an Apple or Dell. Apple will likely never suffer a counterfeit part in one of their products unless it’s installed during a repair at a third party.

    DoD’s relatively paltry (yet high-value) part purchases are prime targets of the counterfeiters. We must be super cautious when we have to source the parts from other than authorized suppliers, which I see the military supply community adjusting to, albeit slower than we would like. Blame them for not adjusting faster, but not as cause for the counterfeit problem. (Read Henry’s whitepapers!)

    I will go on record here for predicting we are in for another wave of electronics counterfeiting, this time from Africa. Right now, Ghana, Nigeria, and other countries are processing e-waste from Europe (and some from N. America) to recover metals. They have not learned to harvest and reprocess the parts off the boards (yet). Chinese companies are operating all over Africa. It is only a matter of time before the knowledge is transferred.

  3. Steve Ingardia says:

    I think saying that Defense Contractors are the root cause of counterfeiting is a bit over the top. However, Defense Contractors that procured from other than authorized sources after 2007/2008 when the counterfeit problem for electronic devices became readily apparent are the root cause of their own problem and any consequences from using those parts if they did not hire someone to perform detailed counterfeit inspection on the devices.
    I think there is also some truth to the defense contractors putting unbelieveable schedule pressure on sub tier suppliers who may have resorted to the broker market for parts. Prior to 2007/2008, I would be understanding of that, but not after! The 2008 [BusinessWeek] article on BAE’s issues should have been a major wake up call to everyone. It was for me!

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