What you need to know about the newly released AS6171 Counterfeit Test Standard
The Long Awaited AS6171 Counterfeit Test Method Standard has recently been published. After more than 7 years of development, the AS6171 has finally been released and promises to standardize practices across the industry. Many in the industry have been impatiently awaiting its arrival as, until this standards creation, there has not been a detailed procedural document for many of the in depth counterfeit methods currently being deployed in the industry (X-ray, XRF, decapsulation, SEM, SAM, etc.)
The Good News
The AS6171 Counterfeit Test Method Standard will give test engineers a trusted path and standardized guideline to verify an electronic component’s authenticity. This detailed instructional manual was developed by an industry cross section of leading engineers and subject matter experts in their particular fields. The volunteer development team has spent thousands of hours studying and determining the most important tests necessary to assess the authenticity for any given component. The standard answers the following questions:
• How to assess risk based on the application and the origin of the parts?
• What depth of testing should be applied based on the assessed risk?
• What test method should be executed on which type of part?
• How exactly should the test be performed?
• What equipment is necessary?
• How should the test operators be trained to assure proficiency?
The Questionable News
Having these answers is great for many in the industry, but not everyone is excited. There are some contentious issues related to certain aspects of the document. First, is the cost of the tests suggested. Now that this is an official industry standard, many in the industry will make these recommended tests mandatory for their suppliers. The level of engineering expertise and equipment costs to perform the testing is significant. For large companies, that have likely already created counterfeit electronic component test plans on their own, being forced to utilize another procedure may end up being counterproductive and more expensive.
Additionally, there are differing opinions on risk assessment methods to determine when and how to test a product. The risk evaluation tool developed for the AS6171 has had some criticism. If a risk assessment tool is not well designed an organization may pay excessive testing fees to test components destined to play a non-critical role in, for example, a Department of Defense coffee maker. However, of greater concern is, for example, a critical component in an aircraft may not get the proper testing based on the risk tool’s lack of accuracy.
Now that the AS6171 is finally published we can all begin to openly evaluate its value to the industry as well as address the possible pitfalls. The development committee already has a list of edits and additions to add to the next revision and will certainly improve the standard with each generation. This new standard is a compliment to the already existing group of SAE counterfeit mitigation standards (AS5553, AS6081). We can now potentially benefit from additional common language and industry evaluation of standards. Post a comment below to share your thoughts on the release of this AS6171 standard.
For more information on the AS6171 or to buy a copy, visit http://standards.sae.org/as6171/. Keep in mind when purchasing the document, that there is a main document and a “slash sheet” for each test method to explain the procedures in detail. Each slash sheet must be purchased separately.