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Communication breakdown

Last week's Anti Counterfeiting Forum, organised by UKEA and The Electronics Component Supply Network (ECSN) highlighted the huge problems of counterfeiting – but ended on an optimistic note.

Counterfeit components cost the UK economy approximately £800million per year, but according to ECSN's chairman, Adam Fletcher, while the problem is being emphasised - both by industry and government - not enough people are yet in 'receive mode'.

Delegates expressed concern at adhering to stringent 'green' directives such as WEEE and RoHS, which too easily become counterproductive. It's an absurd situation. Electronics waste is sent to Asia. Unscrupulous opportunists rip out components. Counterfeits are shabbily constructed on grubby streets. These then find their way back to the UK – usually through the 'grey market'.

And, more worryingly, counterfeit components are now being constructed so well, that many remain undetected by test equipment. If such components end up in medical or aerospace sectors, the results could be catastrophic.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Delegates agreed that strengthening communication along the supply chain and buying components from reputable UK suppliers, will enhance traceability and minimise risk. By joining forces and pushing for tougher legislation, it appears the onus, for now, is on the electronics industry to get the ball rolling.

Author
Chris Shaw

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