bisco industries Blog

Counterfeit Parts Still An Issue For Military Equipment

In 2012 the Senate Armed Services Committee of the United States released a report identifying a massive number of imported counterfeit Chinese electronic parts being used in U.S. military equipment.

According to the report, more than 70% of an estimated one million suspected counterfeit parts were imported from China. The second and third largest sources for fake parts were the United Kingdom and Canada. The report also highlighted that counterfeit parts were found in helicopters and planes used by the United States Navy.

Some three years after the report, combatting counterfeit parts continue to be a significant focus for the defense and aerospace industry. Supply chain members are focusing on maintaining and improving product traceability in addition to cutting out unknown and unreliable suppliers. The failure of a single electronic part in any military vehicles could not only result in higher overall costs, but also cause injuries, mission failure, reduced dependability and product recall. Most importantly for the manufacturing community, it could result in the loss of contracts, and the shutdown of manufacturing lines.

A Trusted Source for Mil-Spec Components

As a recognized quality leader in the manufacturing and distribution industries, bisco is a trusted source for military specification (mil-spec) components. Our counterfeit detection process flags outdated cage codes and date codes, requiring a stringent validation and authentication process.  In addition, bisco’s AS9100/ISO9001 certified quality management system ensures that even the highest-level client requirements are met. To learn more about bisco’s quality management system and our value added services contact your local bisco representative.

Achieving Traceability Through Product Labeling

What is Traceability?

Traceability is the ability to capture and chronologically interrelate uniquely identifiable entities. Traceability allows manufacturers, end users, and other supply chain members to tell from the part itself when and where the component was produced and who manufactured it.

In recent years traceability has become a buzzword among electronic manufacturers seeking to eliminate the presence of counterfeit components in the supply chain. In addition to combating counterfeit goods, traceability also goes a long way in preventing defects, recalls, and product returns.

Traceability Through Labeling

One of the most common ways to provide traceability is through accurate and thorough labeling. In fact, case studies have shown an 85% drop in customer returns simply by using labeling to fix traceability issues.

However, for many electronic components like PCBs, using labels for traceability can be difficult. For example, some labels may cause extreme heat reflow or high pressure in PCBs. Furthermore labels may not withstand industrial-strength wash processes. Since losing traceability is so costly, manufacturers need to be sure that they are using the right label for the job.

Labeling Solutions from Brady

Brady UltraTemp Polyimide labels are specifically designed to minimize heat reflow, withstand wash processes, and reduce electrostatic dissipation (ESD). Additionally, the UltraTemp Polyimide labels feature high smear and chemical resistance.

bisco is your local, authorized, stocking distributor of Brady labels. To find Brady product data and pricing and availability visit

Traceability and the Fight against Counterfeit Parts

Counterfeit parts affect the safety, reliability, and usability of end products. With the cost of counterfeit goods being so high, OEMs and distributors are making concerted efforts to stop the flow of counterfeit products. In addition, recent government regulations have also addressed the need to eliminate counterfeit components in the supply chain.

The most recent Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) took effect just about year ago which defined new measures suppliers must take to help keep counterfeit electronic parts out of the government’s supply channel. Awareness and implementation of DFARS is most prevalent in the military and aerospace industries although it impacts many other industries by extension.

Understanding DFAR Traceability REQUIREMENTS

Recently, there have been several meetings between prime contractors and the Department of Defense as to how to comply with the law’s reporting requirements. One area that has been clearly established is traceability. The laws clearly state that supply chain members must buy DFAR compliant products from authorized vendors and if unable to, must complete a variety of steps to prove that the product is genuine.

In a recent interview the COO of Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA), Robin Gray, stated that, “There also is a widespread misconception that products from authorized sources are frequently not available, and that [buyers] have to go to the gray or black market to get them. The fact of the matter is, buyers have limited their sources to a small pool.” In many cases buyers view the risk of getting a counterfeit product and having a failure as low compared to the cost of shutting down production. Caught between these pressures buyers must learn to partner with suppliers who can locate hard-to-find products without compromising traceability. Buyers should consider the following factors when selecting a supplier:

Tips for Selecting Suppliers

  • Track supplier performance versus quality standards and audit regularly
  • Select suppliers who already have a quality management system in place
  • Select suppliers who are certified to quality standards like AS9100/ISO9001
  • Create a list of alternate suppliers that meet quality standards (these suppliers can be utilized when core suppliers do not have product available)
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