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Electronic Component Failure Analysis Labs - A Safety Net

Electronic component distributors are faced with a myriad variety of risks when dealing with the vast array of devices available on the contemporary market. The looming specter of counterfeit or fraudulent devices, combined with the expected stresses of dealing with run-of-the-mill complaints and RMAs, can be an overwhelming combination of potential problems that must be overcome. In order to surmount these obstacles, diligent distributors must often enlist outside assistance. Fortunately, electronic component failure analysis labs are perfectly poised to help these suppliers struggle through any quality issues they may face.

The problem of dealing with potentially counterfeit, fraudulent, or “grey market” devices is a relatively new issue facing suppliers of electronic components. Given that the core competencies of any electronic component failure analysis lab - detailed inspections, x-ray imaging, acoustic microscopy, electrical testing, and decapsulation, to name a few - are precisely the tools that are needed for analyzing a component to determine its authenticity, partnerships between suppliers and FA labs are only natural. By establishing such a partnership, distributors can create an in-line authenticity checkpoint, sacrificing a few samples from each lot to ensure that the whole group of parts is, in fact, what it claims to be.

Though counterfeiting is indeed a serious problem for component suppliers, an equally costly issue is posed by customers who return parts and claim that they are malfunctioning. Without a proper investigation, a supplier may be forced to offer refunds or credits due to these complaints - often, the end user attempts to lay blame with the supplier for selling faulty parts. Again, electronic component failure analysis labs can be a great boon to suppliers in these situations; by opening up the offending part and performing an in-depth failure analysis, it is often possible to determine whether the part was indeed faulty as supplied or was inadvertently overstressed by the customer.

Cooperation between suppliers and electronic component failure analysis labs is not only natural, but can be a great benefit to both parties. Distributors gain the ability to claim that their parts are verified by an independent failure analysis lab - a claim with undeniable marketing value - while the failure analysis lab gains the invaluable experience and exposure to a huge breadth and depth of different devices. Ultimately, these partnerships allow both firms to work towards a common goal - that of delivering defect free services on time, every time.


Derek Snider is a failure analyst at Insight Analytical Labs, where he has worked since 2004. He is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, where he is pursuing a Bachelors of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.

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