No matter what your opinion; DNA tagging is currently one of the top methods being discussed to ensure component authentication. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) even issued a Request for Information on the subject.
Unfortunately, due to the costs projected and associated with DNA tagging and authentication, few businesses appear to be looking forward to the prospect.
At first glance DNA tagging, like many of the industry’s current solutions, makes sense: increase the complexity of the marks so that counterfeiters are unable reproduce it. DNA would be a “tag” both difficult and expensive to try and recreate. However, DNA tagging and many of the solutions being proposed are “point forward” solutions that, in order to be truly effective, would need to be implemented at the component manufacturing level, not once parts have left the factory floor.
In order have confidence in parts tagged after components have left the original manufacturer, several assumptions need to be made:
- Trust in the skill of the person authenticating the component: Post-production tags count on the fact that whoever authenticated the component has the tools, skill, and experience to accurately identify counterfeits from the real thing.
- Trusting that the part is the type needed: Often there are several different versions of a component. It could be an authentic component, but it could also be commercial grade and not military grade. Simply swabbing the part for DNA wouldn’t be enough to determine whether it meets specifications.
The reality is: Any part being marked after the component leaves the manufacturer, isn’t really going to be assured — and DNA tagging is not going to change this.
In fact, a post-production “tagged” part could be just as risky as an unmarked part… but then, that’s a whole other post.
The GDCA Team