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20 SMT007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2020 Feature Interview by the I-Connect007 Editorial Team Michael Ford, senior director of emerging industry strategy for Aegis Software and I-Con- nect007 columnist, speaks about the increas- ing importance of traceability in manufactur- ing and throughout the supply chain, including how it affects such areas as counterfeit compo- nents and inventory management. Nolan Johnson: What are the current concerns regarding the handling of counterfeits and component tracing through the supply chain, and how is IPC tackling them? Michael Ford: At the time IPC started the stan- dard for traceability, about five years ago, traceability had a very bad reputation in the industry, as it is something that operationally costs a lot of money, and many people will dis- agree on what data to collect and how to store it. We wanted to improve things so that trace- ability would become an everyday net benefit, in addition to the headline ability to discover the scope of any defects that might happen in the field and be able to narrow down the scope of rework or product recall, for example. We also wanted to use traceability for advanced quality purposes so that if, for example, we made 1,000 products, and one had a defect, we could discover the unique set of circum- stances that caused the defect such that pro- cesses and parameters could be modified to avoid that condition—effectively a closed-loop quality feedback loop. Those were the initial requirements. What we did not realize was how many counter- feit materials were out there in the market, and how much of a requirement there was by these parties to use traceability to combat that. When we look at counterfeits, they can take many forms and are basically any mate- rial that is not as intended or presented. Exam- ples range from areas where distributors have substituted or used alternate vendors, all the way to cases where dummy parts have been specifically manufactured. Sometimes, we find materials that were filtered into good and poor quality, where rejected parts had found their way back into the supply chain. When companies are desperate to get com- ponents to complete production, opportunities for counterfeit materials increase. For example, Increase Traceability, Prevent Counterfeiting

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