Using Reclaimed Parts – counterfeiting operations vs. maintenance and repair operations

During the recent ARO/CHASE Workshop on Counterfeit Electronics, one of our discussions concerned the use of reclaimed parts and general comparisons between counterfeiting operations where electronic parts are removed from eWaste versus maintenance and repair operations applied by DoD depots and contractor operated facilities.

Below are photographs of (A) e-waste reclamation associated with counterfeit operations, and (B) controlled component removal associated with maintenance and repair.

(A) e-waste reclamation

A significant number of counterfeit part discoveries involved parts that were used, but represented by the supplier as new and unused parts. Forensic analysis of several examples show evidence of termination refurbishing and reclamation; many also exhibited other indications of damaging exposures and included disguises intended to deceive a buyer. A semiconductor industry representative at the ARO/CHASE workshop, who is also a semiconductor reliability subject matter expert, discussed a number conditions and exposures during counterfeiting operations that damage the components and can cause them fail in use.

(B) controlled maintenance and repair

"IPC 7711/7721 - How to Rework, Modify and Repair Electronic Assemblies"

“IPC 7711/7721 – How to Rework, Modify and Repair Electronic Assemblies”

In contrast, controlled maintenance and repair operations do not subject parts to the abuse associated with e-waste feedstock for counterfeiters. Quite the contrary; controlled maintenance and repair operations apply precautions to avoid damaging parts. In the case of DoD depots and contractor operated maintenance and repair facilities that apply reclamation practices (where parts are salvaged from used assemblies), this is generally done as a last resort to meet critical supply shortages and with full knowledge of the end customer. Though there may be a degree of concern with respect to relability (after all, these parts have seen some amount operation and, therefore, their service life is reduced), controlled maintenance and repair is a necessary and well understood practice.

Which parts would you rather use? A or B?

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