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What Buyers Need to Know About the AS6081 Counterfeit Avoidance Standard

Posted by Jesse Silverman, Esquire on Jun 4, 2013 8:57:00 AM

As a buyer you are no doubt bombarded with emails and memos from your quality department with updates and amendments to your quality requirements. The language, terminology and qualityacronyms they use can be difficult to follow and comprehend. At the end of the day though, the underlying mission of your quality department is quite simple: to make certain you are purchasing authentic and quality parts.

I am fairly certain you’ve heard the words “counterfeit”, “avoidance” and “mitigation” over the last year or so. The proliferation of counterfeit parts infiltrating the supply chain has become a critical and hot button issue in the defense and aerospace industries. Manufacturers are taking steps to ensure that their supply chain is insulated against counterfeits. Independent distributors like Secure Components are also taking a proactive approach to protecting the supply chain.

The Fight Against Counterfeits

counterfeitA critical tool for distributors like Secure Components in the fight against counterfeits is the SAE AS6081 “Fraudulent/Counterfeit Electronic Parts: Avoidance, Detection, Mitigations, and Disposition – Distributors” standard. By way of background, SAE International is an organization dedicated to developing and promoting best practices and standards across many different industries. Engineers, scientists and experts from a given field collaborate to create standards for industry to follow. You are likely familiar with AS9120, which was developed, published and is maintained by SAE.

The AS6081 standard is relevant to “distributors of Electrical, Electronic, Electromechanical (EEE) parts purchased and sold from the Open Market…”[1] In other words, and for the purposes of this post, we’re referring to distributors who sell electronic components from the surplus market (meaning from sources other than the Original Component Manufacturer (“OCM”) or their Franchised distributors). 

So, what do you as a buyer need to know about this standard? I’ll give you a few quick highlights.

  • The distributor or broker you are buying from must have a Quality Management System (“QMS”) in place that implements a process for “risk mitigation, disposition, and report of fraudulent/counterfeit parts”[2]. Essentially, this means that your vendor must have a documented plan in place that lowers the risk of purchasing counterfeits, that details how they’ll quarantine and dispose of counterfeit parts and how and to whom they’ll report the discovery of counterfeit parts. 

  • If your vendor is not franchised to sell the part then you can request your vendor disclose the source of supply. When you invoke AS6081 you can ask your vendor from where and from whom they’re obtaining the part. They’ll likely require an officer of your company to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement, but this information may no longer be kept secret.

  • Your vendor is now required to warranty the “EEE” parts for a minimum of one year.

  • If the source of supply changes after you’ve received a quote then the vendor is required to notify you of the new supplier in writing via a revised quote.

  • Your vendor must put the EEE parts through a minimum level of testing as outlined in the standard. The testing required is as follows[3]:

1)      Documentation and Packaging Inspection

2)      External Visual Inspection

3)      Solvent Test for Remarking

4)      Lead Finish Evaluation

Buyers play a critical role in the fight against counterfeit electronic components. You are on the frontlines. You field vendor calls all day and are inundated with sales people who claim to be able to find any and every part you need. The days of putting an RFQ out to just any old pool of vendors is over.

AS6081 Standards

You need to be certain that your vendor is willing and able to abide by the standards outlined in AS6081. Going forward, be wary of vendors who claim to be compliant to AS6081. Ask to see their CAP. See if they truly know their role and responsibilities under the standard.

Similarly, you should be certain that your vendor’s CAP has undergone a third party DLAassessment. Do not simply rely on a vendor telling you that their counterfeit avoidance plan is the best in the industry. Demand third party verification. Ask to see their AS6081 certification or other similar third party assessment (for example, the Defense Logistics Agency’s QTSL audit).

At the end of the day, understanding the AS6081 standard will help you avoid the dreaded call from your quality engineer asking how you went about procuring the suspect parts that just arrived on your dock. More importantly, understanding AS6081 will help to ensure that the parts and systems relied on by countless military and commercial personnel will function properly.

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SAE AS6081, Section 1.2 “Application”

[2] Ibid at Section 4.2 “Fraudulent/Counterfeit Electronic Parts Control Plan”

[3] Ibid at Section “Test Level”


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