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A host of recent events, including newly released standards and a long-awaited update to the federal government’s requirements for companies who supply equipment containing electronic components to the government, is keeping everyone in the channel on their toes.
“Overall, the supply chain is doing a better job of keeping this stuff out as much as they can—out of the end user’s supply chains,” says Mark Snider, president of ERAI, an association representing independent distributors of electronic components.
Here’s a look at five ways the fight to keep counterfeit components out of the supply channel is evolving. DFARS Update In May, the federal government issued an update to its rules for companies who sell equipment containing electronic components to the federal government.
Known as the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), the update addresses new requirements that arose from the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal years 20 surrounding the detection and avoidance of counterfeit parts.
“So unless it’s occurring and the government knows about it and hasn’t told us—which is possible—then no one is really prepared to handle that part of it.” This opens uncharted territory, Sink explains, adding that he expects this to be a big issue down the road.
“It had not been part of the discussion, and there are no reported cases [of malicious or Trojan software] that we are aware of,” Sink adds.Sink was scheduled to talk about the changes, as well as some of the new standards issued surrounding counterfeit avoidance and detection, at an industry meeting in late September.“Now we have to figure out exactly what to do if it’s different than we expected,” he says of the DFARS update, noting that much of the work ahead for suppliers surrounds understanding the requirements and ensuring they have the right systems and procedures in place. The Next Big Issue: Software Sink cautions that the DFARS update matches industry expectations “for the most part.” A key difference, and one he says is a big surprise to the industry, is the federal government’s definition of an electronic part, which is expanded to include “any embedded software or firmware.” “That caught everyone by surprise,” Sink says, adding that detecting malicious code in software products had not been part of the discussion leading up to the DFARS update.More Places to Turn for Help On a positive note, there is much more information available today to help companies throughout the supply channel navigate the regulations surrounding counterfeit component detection, mitigation, and reporting.
“We now have several more standards in existence than before, so there is a lot more professional advice for companies to follow,” Sink explains, pointing to the newest industry standard, AS6496, which is a guideline for authorized distributors of electronic components.
Sink adds that the new standard is also helping to strengthen the authorized brand, helping authorized distributors learn how to better market themselves. A Sharper Focus on Scrap By and large, companies are also taking a closer look at how they dispose of inventory they can’t sell these days.