Familiarity Doesn’t Always Mean You’re Safe by Ben Farrer
I feel the need to share a recent experience. It demonstrates perfectly some of what we do here at Vigilant day-in, day-out and why it’s so important. Nonetheless it’s slightly frustrating, and worrying, that the issues I want to cover here can arise in the first place, despite well-honed, formal processes and procurement routes.
So what am I going on about exactly?
It’s the fact that, recently, despite sourcing a specific part from a highly reputable and trusted independent distributor (we’ve been dealing with them for almost 20 years) we discovered serious problems with a part that we’ve previously sourced through precisely the same route – without any problems.
Here’s what happened…
We put the parts, from a kit destined for one of our major customers, into the X-Ray inspection system which revealed a catalogue of issues. These included damaged lead frames, mis-aligned bond wires, the silicon die in the wrong orientation, and even variations in the silicon die across devices with the same date code! Naturally, this immediately precipitated further inspection. While the parts passed our acetone and solvent solution tests, we uncovered signs of sanding on the back of the components along with evidence of solder on the leads.
Most independent distributors invest in testing to some level but we know that not all invest in advanced verification techniques, so perhaps it’s worth seeking out those that do. Let’s face it: these parts passed the acetone and solvent tests but failed advanced X-Ray. If it hadn’t been for that, they might be on a circuit board by now, failing functional or system test – at orders of magnitude more cost.
So, what should you do? Using only proven suppliers is one of the very first steps to take towards eliminating exposure to counterfeit and damaged parts. It’s what we recommend. But it’s clear that familiarity doesn’t offer total protection. This part was a previously reliably-sourced part from a proven distributor. Fortunately for our customers, adding exhaustive testing is what we’re all about, so our extra layer of security can be critical for confidence. Certainly, it pays to be wary, even when provenance seems assured through trusted distributors. They can get caught out too – no-one is totally immune to counterfeits. My advice? Check, check and check again.
Whilst this may sound cheesy….OK, very cheesy! ….ultimately you need to be vigilant. Or send your parts to us so that we can be vigilant for you. Or, better still, let us source your parts and we’ll be vigilant as an intrinsic part of the Vigilant service. ‘Enough already’ I hear you cry! but, like I said: it’s what we do. You can probably see why we chose the company name now!
About Vigilant Components:
Vigilant Components (www.vigilant-components.com) provides the broadest range of independent component distribution services to the electronics manufacturing sector. Offering high integrity component sourcing, testing and verification, plus obsolescence management and counterfeit component detection, the company is leading the way in its field.
Part of the £30m Paragon Electronics Group (www.paragon-electronics.com), Vigilant is also able to draw on the combined group expertise to offer a full range of supply chain management services, incorporating component kitting and Vendor Managed Inventory into its extensive portfolio. With ISO9001 and AS9120 accreditation, combined with a global reach delivered through UK and offshore purchasing teams, Vigilant is the ideal supply chain partner for a wide range of electronic component requirements.