Companies involved in the electronic parts supply chain are getting more serious about the growing problem of counterfeiting, particularly where national defence is concerned.
"One thing we've been pushing for is for Congress to wake up a little bit," says Robert Toppel, president of Axiom Electronics (booth 3825), a builder and integrator of electronic circuit boards and boxes. "Their answer was: 'You'll go to jail if you sell us bad parts.'"
The US Senate's armed services committee last year uncovered about 1,800 incidents of counterfeit parts, mostly from China, being sold to US military contractors, up from less than 1,000 counterfeit parts found in 2010.
As part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, civil and criminal penalties, including jail time, can be handed down to prime contractors if counterfeit parts are found in military systems.
The pressure on the prime contractors then flowed down to their suppliers.
"Companies like ours are doing more testing," says Toppel, adding that the number of counterfeit parts being found will probably rise since more people are looking for them. "You'd better know who you're doing business with," he adds.