It isn’t a high-profile battle, but those who know are aware that our armed forces are engaged in a perpetual war with an enemy that is, ultimately, unbeatable. That enemy is obsolescence. However, just because obsolescence is inevitable, it doesn’t mean there aren’t victories. Or one singular “VICTORY,” as the case may be.
At DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO), proposals are already being accepted for the new Supply Chain Hardware Integrity for Electronics program, aka SHIELD. The SHIELD program will be the DOD’s response to component counterfeiting in the supply chain and will include the use of a “a small (100 micron x 100 micron) component, or dielet, that authenticates the provenance of electronics components. Proposed dielets should contain a full encryption engine, sensors to detect tampering and would readily affix to today’s electronic components such as microchips.” The goal, according to MTO Program Manager Kerry Bernstein is to provide a chip that monetarily and technically deincentivizes counterfeiting, yet can be produced for less than a penny per unit.
When reading the news around counterfeit components, much of the dialogue is driven by the defense industry. When you are dealing with systems that protect our national security and the lives of the people out in the field – you’re not dealing with counterfeits in a bunch of trivial electronics. You’re taking necessary steps to protect the lives of men and women who depend on the systems for their safety. Since 2011 more than 1800 cases of counterfeit components were reported in defense applications, including mission computers operating the THAAD missile system, in the Air Force’s C-27J, in the Navy’s P-8A, and in electromagnetic interference filters on an SH-60B helicopter.
However, the trouble with counterfeits isn’t limited to the defense industry and the military. They’re just currently the ones driving the conversation and legislation such as the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Sec. 818.
“Proactively take timely and effective actions to identify and minimize the DMSMS impact on DoD acquisition and logistics support efforts.” SD-22 DMSMS Guidebook The DMSMS conference is just around the […]
The SAE 2013 AeroTech Congress and Exhibition in Montréal, Quebec, Canada, brought together an international community to discuss both design and total life-cycle sustainment. Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) boards and components […]
Saying that something is “good enough for government work” is often meant as a joke and the reference implies “mediocre work.” The irony is that “government work” is often highly sophisticated; systems are designed and engineered to operate in the most extreme environmental conditions for a very long period of time.
I recently had the pleasure of having lunch with a talented component engineer who has spent much of his career working in the defense industry. During the course of our discussion I learned that some aviation systems need ICs to operate in temperature extremes ranging from -55°C to 125°C; ground units often travel in harsh environmental conditions (e.g. fighting extreme heat and sand storms in deserts) while being exposed to hostile attacks; satellites traveling through orbit are exposed to protons and heavy ions from solar flares, yet must operate reliably in space.
Between Section 818 in the NDAA FY12 and the NDAA FY13 Amendment, the defense industry is highly aware of the risks of counterfeit components in the supply chain. As a rule, logistics teams know not to purchase parts off EBay but from authorized sources, or purchase directly from the manufacturer. They know about the SAE standards AS5553 and AS6081 for business processes and they know about guidelines for purchasing and authenticating components.
In general, defense sustainment and counterfeit avoidance has been left to DMSMS teams and logistics or engineering tactics. However, so far the solution has primarily been to develop standards, authentication and anti-counterfeit technologies. These responses have been critical, but have largely remained reactive and have not produced the dynamic collaboration crucial to maintaining a healthy, proactive supply chain. Instead, each player is left facing inward — focusing on solutions from their own particular positions in the supply chain — but without the resources to truly be proactive.
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.
After our evacuation from New Orleans, we wrote about the part that collaboration played in our experiences. While we focused on how the collaboration mostly focused on safely addressing an incoming hurricane; generally when we talk about collaboration here at GDCA, we’re talking about collaboration in the sense of an integrated supply chain poised to protect the embedded industry from unplanned obsolescence.
That is why we’re taking a moment to celebrate and announce that DMSMS 2012 is back in the saddle for November 26-29, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.
We know that in the face of obsolescence no one can afford to be isolated in the supply chain. That is why we are pleased to announce that in partnership with Curtiss-Write, IHS, and Rochester Electronics we will be presenting on the realities of cross-industry sustainment: Building an Integrated Supply Chain to Support Warfighter Systems.