Federal Stock Code 5962 are Microcircuits — electronic components that go on green circuit boards that exist in most things electronic. FSC 5962 Microcircuits are one of the most likely FSCs in the federal supply chain to be counterfeited. In case you were not aware, there currently is a worldwide epidemic of counterfeit electronic components. In short, the e-waste we are recycling (things like computers, televisions, cell phones, etc.) is often shipped overseas to be salvaged and sent back to the supply chain as individual components. This pandemic has not only polluted the global supply chain, but also the US Military's supply chain. As my company is heavily involved in mitigating counterfeit components for its clients, I decided to write this post on the topic of the Defence Logistics Agency’s (DLA) QTSL Program. My role is to support the DLA and DoD buyers and engineers in supplying their hard to find parts. My company is qualified to supply these 5962 Microcircuits, and I often encounter folks within the DLA that are unsure of what the QTSL program is and how it works. I am hopeful that this post can offer insight to some of the questions and concerns they may be having.
Qualified Testing Suppliers List
The QTSL program stands for "Qualified Testing Suppliers List" and pertains to Federal Stock Codes (FSC) 5962 and 5961 Microcircuits. The program was established to mitigate counterfeit components from entering the supply chain. The QTSL program is a list of pre-qualified sources of supply for certain electronic components that are purchased and managed by the DLA and do not have direct traceability to the OEM. This primarily affects electronic components that are obsolete or, for whatever reason, not available for purchase with the appropriate certifications from sources of supply that are authorized to distribute that product by the OCM or OEM. QTSL suppliers have been vetted by DLA Inspectors to ensure they are in compliance with counterfeit mitigation practices and quality assurance procedures that are consistent with industry standards, such as the JESD625B, JESD31, and SAE’s AS6081 Counterfeit Avoidance Standard. The QTSL program is applicable to all 5961 and 5962s that lack appropriate traceability to the OEM, OCM, or authorized distributor that the DLA is purchasing from.
So what does all of this mean and how does it apply to you?
The QTSL program became effective January 21, 2013, and Secure Components is 1 of 13 qualified suppliers.(LINK TO THE DLA’s Notice) Click Here to see the most current list of suppliers. To date, FSC 5961 is optional if the DLA is going to call out that the parts have to be supplied by a QTSL supplier and thus DNA Marking would be required. Currently, all 5962s are required to be supplied by a qualified source list on the QTSL or QSLD and thus would require DNA Marking regardless of the source or traceability paperwork. One fact that I find many buyers are unaware of is that “all” 5962 Microcircuits purchased by the DLA, even “new” parts purchased direct from the OEM, can only be purchased if they are supplied by a source qualified to apply the DNA Marking. This has meant the DLA, in many cases, is no longer procuring parts directly from the original component manufacture or its authorized source of supply. Critics have argued this requirement is too restrictive, costly, and unnecessary. However, after years of analyzing the issue, the DLA has determined the evidence of counterfeit components for FSC Code 5962 Microcircuits is so overwhelming that these new requirements are necessary to ensure the safe supply of these critical components. Considering the DLA manages over 4.6 million line items in more than 28 countries and they have implemented such a robust program for this specific code, I believe it goes without saying this is a vital component to protecting its supply chain.
What is DNA Marking and how does this affect the QTSL requirements or, more importantly, my job as a buyer of 5962 Microcircuits.
The DLA has partnered with a private company to utilize their patented DNA Marking technology. Once the patented DNA substance is stamped on a component, it can never be removed or replicated and will always be traceable back to the company who marked the part. This ensures that the part has undergone the proper process to ensure it is an authentic and functional component. The QTSL program requirements only come into play when the components cannot be supplied with proof of supply chain traceability back to the original manufacturer or authorized reseller. This is generally for obsolete electronic components that are no longer available from authorized distribution. Ideally, electronics will come from the OEM, OCM, or an authorized distributor; this would fall under the QSLD (Qualified Supplier List of Distributors) program. The QTSL program specifically applies to obsolete parts where the chain of custody paperwork no longer exists, thus required authenticity testing is required.
When a QTSL Supplier Receives an RFQ for a 5962 Microcircuit
Essentially, this is a two-step process. As a QTSL supplier, if Secure Components provides a quote and then wins the award, stock will then be procured and the parts will be tested for authentication through a variety of different testing protocols, which are already established and required to be done by all QTSL suppliers. The test required is called out in Table 1 of the AS6081 Counterfeit Avoidance Standard. The SAE AS6081 Counterfeit Avoidance Standard is the first internationally recognized standard specific to counterfeit avoidance regarding electronic components. The Department of Defense adopted this standard on June 11, 2013. As the first company in the world to become certified to the standard, Secure Components is very familiar with the requirements of the standard.
DNA Marked by a Third Party
Once the parts have successfully completed testing, they are then DNA marked by a third party who holds our DNA Stamp. This consists of applying a mark to each individual microcircuit that will forever be traced back to the company that has procured the parts and had them tested. The parts will not be marked by the third party marker unless the parts have undergone the required authenticity testing or the component has the proper supply chain traceability paperwork. Once a part is marked with the DNA Marking, it will always be able to be traced back to company who’s mark stamped the parts. This serves to ensure that the parts within the DLA’s supply chain were properly vetted and thus can be trusted for use in military equipment.
The Lowest Price is No Longer the Primary Concern for this Commodity.
In the past, parts were essentially purchased based solely on the lowest price, often times without any authenticity testing and, in many cases, those components turned out to be counterfeit. In 2010, the US Senate Arms Services Committee found that it suspected more than one million counterfeit components exist within the US Military's supply chain. These were primarily electronic components, thus the reason the DLA has sought to establish programs that will effectively mitigate counterfeits from its supply chain.
Challenges within this program are inevitable, as is with any new program. The QTSL program is mainly tailored to legacy programs, as they often have obsolete parts. Often times, the requirements we source for the DLA have not been manufactured for over 20 years. The first challenge is, can we locate the stock? Is a data sheet available to test against, another requirement by the QTSL program? Are the parts going to pass testing? Table 1 in AS6081 calls out the need to perform testing that will destruct a few of the microcircuits. One of the challenges that we have found is that there is not enough stock to efficiently test the parts. Therefore, we are unable to meet the requirements to apply the DNA mark and are unable to supply the parts. Regardless of the issues we face, we beleive without question that this program will prove to be a very effective tactic to mitigate counterfeit componets within the supply chain. Already, we have seen priviate industry utilizing the list of QTSL suppliers as a resource of qualified sources of supply for obsolete electonic components.
Admiral Hardecheck Speaks About Counterfeit Mitigation
The DLA has taken a bold single step to do their part in counterfeit prevention. To listen to Admiral Hardecheck speak about this program, click on the links here: Part One. Part Two They have acknowledged the need for DNA Marking and programs like the QTSL and QSLD to implement and utilize the best technology available to reinforce its supply chain for the safety of the warfighter. Secure Components is proud to be a part of this program. It is great to see the industry taking this issue seriously and no longer turning a blind eye to addressing this difficult problem.
I believe it goes without saying that it is clear the DLA has taken a monumental step in preventing counterfeits from entering their supply chain. This decision has certainly been controversial, arduous, and expensive. However, considering that FSC 5962 Microcircuits are one of the number one commodities that have been counterfeited, I believe the DLA should be commended for taking what is, in my opinion, one of the biggest attempts to mitigate counterfeit components to date by any private company or government agency. These electronic parts are often the critical components used by the warfighter to complete their mission, while at the same time putting their lives on the line to defend our country and our freedom. It is important that before we pass judgment on these new requirements, we at least consider the reason as to why these requirements exist. Change is rarely easy but consider what could happen in the event we continue business the way it has been done in the past. I think we could all agree that something needed to change. If you are a critic to the DNA Marking, I would love to hear your reasons as to why the Warfighter does not deserve this program. What should be done to mitigate these components? While many critics, primarily from industry, claim the solution is to "buy from the authorized source" those who work to source components on legacy aircraft realize this solution is not viable. We have legacy programs and military missions that require these high risk purchases be made to ensure our military effectiveness. The QSLD and QTSL programs are an effective tool that can help ensure we are all doing the best that we can to defend those who defend us.
What do you think?
If you would like to learn more of what Secure Components is doing to support the DLA or how we can help you procure parts for your needs, please click here. Or, contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org If you have gotten this far, you have heard what I have to say, now let me hear from you. What do you think or what has your experience been regarding DNA Marking, the QTSL, or the QSLD program.
- Image used from: http://www.minyanville.com/businessmarkets/articles/fake-military-components-senate-armed-services/11/8/2011/id/37835