A little over a year ago, an initiative by the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) launched, aiming to sharply mitigate the risks of counterfeit electronic parts entering the military supply system. The effort featured Applied DNA Sciences' SigNature® DNA, an advanced anti-counterfeit technology platform.
With over a million counterfeit parts recently identified in that supply chain, headed for missiles, submarines and weapon systems, among other military users, the stakes were high.
The anti-counterfeiting initiative has begun to pay off already. Recently, under the aegis of the SigNature DNA program, counterfeit "escapes" as they are called in the industry, were prevented in three separate incidents.
The program works like this: DLA currently requires suppliers of certain high-reliability microelectronics to mark their products with a botanically derived taggant called SigNature DNA, developed by Applied DNA Sciences.
Once applied, that mark carries with it identifying or traceability information everywhere it goes in the supply chain: authenticity data if applied by a manufacturer, traceability data if applied by another supplier.
The two forms of DNA taggant differ in the covert optical array associated with the DNA: an Authenticity mark for manufacturers appears red under UV light, while a distributor's Provenance mark appears yellow.
The value created in this program is of the best kind: the value measured in human lives protected, and human lives possibly saved. In the recent past, counterfeit parts have shown up in missile systems, and in parts headed for nuclear submarines, two environments in which defective or non-conforming electronic parts can be literally and quickly fatal.
The DLA program, featuring SigNature DNA and a gauntlet of checkpoints, has already now begun removing this risk from the system and protecting those lives.
The early interception of counterfeits and suspects also pays off in dollar terms. Eventual expenses mount as a counterfeit part continues through the supply chain, accumulating higher rework and replacement costs. It is how a two-dollar component becomes a $20,000 replacement.
While a comprehensive solution to counterfeit electronics is a complicated proposition, still in the talking stage in the industry, this practical program using SigNature DNA has already begun and is already hitting its mark.