Blog Post
Electronic Components Market

Electronic Components Checklist: What to Watch Out for When Changing Suppliers/Distributors

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Global shipping and supply chain bottlenecks are forcing companies to seek alternative ways to source components, like changing suppliers or working with brokers. But some companies have difficulty verifying conducting due diligence on new transaction parties.

This checklist provides guidance to OEMs and EMS companies on what to look out for when evaluating a transaction by a new supplier, broker or distributor.

Check the date code

Date code/lot number is the number used to identify when the component was manufactured. There are 8 different methods to identify the DC, and all manufacturers have their identification method on their site.

Example: DC indicated on component  2129 → means year 2021 and  week produced 29.

Reference or part number

Manufacturers use a part number or reference number to assign a unique number to each part. The part number contains descriptive and informative details that provide significant information about the part.

Example: REF: MC9S08PA32AVLC and MC9S08PA32AVLD

Only one letter inside REF can be different to characterize an industry with specific recommendations (automotive, healthcare, cellular…) or/and specifications (temperatures used, number of channels, number of I/O…)

Manufacturer’s name

This is the name of the brand that manufactured the component. Example: NEXPERIA, DIOTEC, RENESAT, VISHAY etc. For the same REF there can be different manufacturers. OCM (Original Component Manufacturer) or direct source parts are parts sold through equipment manufacturer networks of distributors and authorized service providers. These parts are the same exact parts used in the original equipment.

State of the component

In addition to date code, reference number and manufacturer’s name, you need enhanced due diligence especially if dealing with brokers. Check the state of the component and its packaging (to prevent electro-static discharge and moisture), ask for photos of the component and its original packaging for online purchases. Components may be new, reworked only by OCMs, but sometimes already soldered or assembled or refurbished (not manufacturer packaging). Pictures too can be wrong, so it makes sense to conduct additional checks to validate components authenticity. But risk persists.  

Ask for a Certificate of Conformity

OCMs usually have a certificate of conformity (COC) to authenticate the origin of components. Certificates are only given to OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) or EMS (Electronic Manufacturing Services), so it is very difficult to get this document from the broker network.

There is an array of documents made by the brokers out there designed to convince you but have no legal value. Sometimes the RoHS mention appears, but it is only informative, indicating that the component respects the RoHS standard (composition without prohibited material). Only renowned laboratories have recognition and provide a report that "the tested components have no evidence of counterfeiting!

How AIRENC ensures traceability of electronic components

It is essential to identify the origin of an electronic component, which is why a permanent and indelible marking is imposed on each component. Written in this identification document is the name of the manufacturer or OCM, its reference (part number), and the date of manufacture of the electronic component. In addition, a serial number of several characters or a QR code completes this traceability to ensure a precise follow-up of the components throughout their industrial life.

Identification is the means of ensuring the tracking of components. However, it is not uncommon to find components whose marking is entirely or partially hidden (black label), absent or made up. The latter two are counterfeit and pollute the resale market (grey market).

To overcome this loss of traceability and guarantee that components are not counterfeit, AIRENC offers a three-level test programme for components, one of which is reinforced with internal inspection: code/TBC - Level Reinforced.

The test programme also offers tests for solderability: code/TSB - Test for Traceability Lost, which enables our industrial customers to reuse "orphan" components.

An essential element in this traceability is the production date of the component. This date is called the Date Code (DC) and significantly impacts the component’s functionality. There are eight methods of reading a DC; the most common in Europe and the USA is a four-character entry (YYWW). This four-character format represents the year of manufacture and its week. Example of a DC inscription on a component: 2129 = Year 2021 and week 29.

All manufacturers (OCM) provide information to understand the reading of their Date Code. Typically, in transactions, a DC of less than 24 months is looked for, extending to 36. With the current shortage of components, it is not uncommon to trade in DCs older than 36 months and up to 10 years.

Nonetheless, after 36 months, the functional qualities of the component may be altered. For this reason, we recommend conducting a solderability test to measure the suitability of the pins for soldering. The risks involved with an "old" DC are high as storage periods and conditions can influence the qualities of the components. In addition, exposure to moisture during multiple handling and long storage periods significantly increases the risk of malfunction.

With this in mind, we have integrated checks and a solderability test into our test programme, which our customers can choose from: code/TSA - Test for DateCode.

Source electronics components on AIRENC with confidence

AIRENC is a unique peer-to-peer platform that facilitates components traceability and trading of electronic components. The platform uses a transparent scoring system that allows members to validate the quality of products (components) and transactions with confidence. Furthermore, our members are carefully vetted, which guarantees the integrity of the components and helps prevent counterfeiting.

With AIRENC, OEMs and EMS providers can obtain high-quality parts with proven traceability from qualified vendors, thus shielding manufacturers from purchasing substandard/counterfeit components.

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