Anti-Counterfeiting

Situation:

Within many industries, counterfeiting has proven to be a major source of both direct corporate cost as well as lost corporate image. The mounting need to protect corporate assets in issues involving product liability, and the ability to prove product authenticity, is becoming an absolute requirement. In both the pharmaceutical and semiconductor industries alone, estimates place the annual cost of product counterfeiting between $170 and $200B. Overall, industry estimates are in the $1.5-1.75T/year range. And these costs do not begin to assess the immeasurable loss of customer confidence in suppliers.

Target:

Provide a technology and anti-counterfeiting system to guarantee that good products are not the source of customer issues. That is, ensure counterfeits of these products are identifiable and can be segregated from genuine products throughout the lifetime of the product. Within the semiconductor industry, this is particularly challenging because of the small size of each part that must be traceable and the extremely high volume in which they are commonly manufactured (millions per week).

Plan:

By using a direct laser marking technique, product identifiers such as unique, two-dimensional data matrix identifiers can be incorporated into the manufacturing and product traceability process. As each specific unit is manufactured, traceability of every chip can be ensured throughout its lifetime. When associated with specific data that is stored in an offline database, these identifiers can be made available to any valid requestor. This not only identifies the manufacturing, but also the delivery data throughout the life of the parts.

Result:

While official valuations are typically unavailable, reports indicate the effectiveness of the implemented traceability system. Not only have multiple instances of the introduction of counterfeit products into the supply chain been quickly identified, but customers have assisted in the pursuit of highly successful legal action against the sources of those counterfeit products. In some cases, the focus of semiconductor anti-counterfeiting has been so successful that the manufacturers can now more tightly focus on fixing the problem of older, obsolete products being counterfeited, due to the lack of traceability of such chips.

Note:

By recognizing (during documentation of customer issues/requirements) that manufacturing issues were also considered a significant problem; the traceability system design and implementation enabled the seamless addition of manufacturing efficiency developments, leveraging the traceability infrastructure installed to address the company’s anti-counterfeiting needs.

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