Those who have been keeping up know the threat counterfeiting poses to the embedded world. To this point, most of our conversations regarding counterfeits have been focused on the damage they can do to projects, the costs incurred to replace them, and the threat they pose to the security of the supply chain. However, there is still the basic, personal way they continue to threaten us—the real and direct danger to us and our families as we go about the day-to-day business of driving from place to place. Counterfeit tires are on the road, and they are less safe and of lower quality than the products they pretend to be.
To the average consumer, tires are little more than an invisible maintenance cost—until something goes wrong with one. Flat tires, leaky tires, balding tires—at those points, we become immediately aware of how heavily our safety is dependent on them. And in those moments, the realization that your tires will not grip in the snow or rain is not a comforting one. The idea that the tread will lose integrity during emergency breaking becomes chilling.
That is exactly what Consumer Reports recently reported, however, after running a battery of tests on SUV tires. Counterfeits were being manufactured to appear to be brand-name standards, and they consistently rated lowest of all tires tested. Stolen tire molds, last accounted for in a closed factory in China, are thought to be responsible for these fakes. Unfortunately for consumers, short of the kind of stress testing done by professionals such as Consumer Reports, it can be almost impossible to visually identify an official versus a counterfeit tire. As the issue gains more attention, it is hoped that easy-to-use identification methods can be developed to help spot these dangerous duplicates.
It is easy to lose track of the fact that the supply chain challenges we face in the world of embedded computing are not unique to our industry. Unauthorized manufacturing, unauthorized distribution, and theft/salvage of unaccounted-for fabrication equipment affectmore than just bottom lines and schedules—they endangerthe lives and safety of warfighters, hospital patients, and airline passengers. Now, it would seem, they also threaten our own lives and safety as well as that of our families and everyone we might share the road with .