The Hidden Dangers of Counterfeit Electronic Components in Industrial and Automation

 April 25th, 2023 |   By Area51 Electronics  |   0 Comments
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It’s easy to underestimate the significant impact something as small as a speck can have. Take the universe for instance—we are submerged in a galaxy among billions of galaxies yet being so small in the midst of it all, does not take away the importance we contribute as a whole. This can be applied to electronic components integrated in machines, aircraft, automobiles, and medical devices. These small parts are critical in making sure everything runs smoothly and safely, and even the slightest defect in the part can cause serious harm and danger.  

Unfortunately, some of these components are not authentic and can unknowingly get into the hands of manufacturers.  

Counterfeit electronic components are serious threats and can be a hidden danger lurking in all industries, as they are produced and sold with the intention of deceiving consumers into believing they are genuine parts. These counterfeit components are usually of lower quality, lack the necessary certifications, cause costly downtime, equipment malfunction, and safety hazards.  

This is a significant threat in the industrial and automation industry, where reliability and safety are of the highest importance. Counterfeit electronic components can be found in applications from industrial robots and appliances to programmable logic controllers and sensors. And the use of counterfeits in these components could have devastating consequences.   

The Risk of Unexpected Failure and Malfunction 

An unsettling reality of counterfeit component dangers is their inclination to fail. Safety is a top priority in any industry, but especially when it comes to dealing with industrial equipment. The counterfeit components in the equipment are often of poor quality and can unexpectedly fail or malfunction leading to potential hazards.  

Electronic components play a significant role in the operation of conveyor systems and the sensors that are used to detect the position and speed of the conveyor. With a counterfeit component thrown in the mix, the sensor can malfunction and run the risk of equipment failure and unexpected shutdowns. Since a sensor is used for detection, it may fail to accurately detect the position of the conveyor and cause a collision. And if the conveyor has a counterfeit component, it may not be able to withstand the stress of the conveyor system, leading to equipment damage and unexpected movements in hazardous areas, causing serious injuries to workers. But it doesn’t stop at industrial equipment. 

Let’s say we have an intricate building automation system we’re dealing with. This system is critical for the safety of the occupants and is used to control and monitor building functions such as light, security, access control, and HVAC. If a counterfeit component somehow makes its way into the system, it can malfunction the HVAC and it will fail to regulate temperature and airflow, leading to uncomfortable conditions for the building occupants.  

Other safety risks include fire or other electrical hazards due to the counterfeits not meeting necessary safety standards. This could lead to overheating or electrical malfunction that causes fires and electrocution. Even the security in buildings can be compromised by counterfeit components. An access control system can easily be hacked or manipulated, allowing unauthorized people to enter restricted areas of the building and can lead to theft or harm of the building occupants. This is especially concerning in buildings where large groups gather such as schools, office spaces, and hospitals.  

Preserving the Integrity of Your Supply Chain 

Counterfeit electronic components squirming their way into the industrial and automation industry is a massive threat to the reliability and safety of workers and everyday people going about their lives. To avoid taking any chances with counterfeit components, be sure to sure to purchase from a reputable electronic component distributor like Area51 Electronics.  

Protecting your components from counterfeit threats is our ultimate goal. We have dynamic and rigorous counterfeit mitigation process through our quality management system (QMS) and our advanced in-house lab. The process involves assessing the risk levels of the components and application, detecting, and mitigating any risk, closely controlling and reporting any counterfeit threats, and implementing solutions to maintain the integrity of your supply chain.  

Never underestimate the small things. Each tiny component is important in every piece of equipment, no matter how big it may be. With Area51 Electronics, you can be confident that you are getting only authentic, high-quality electronic components.  

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