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Controlling and Combatting Counterfeit in Your Supply Chain

by Kevin Bellah

The global economy is rife with imitation items, everything from fake designer handbags to imposter SMART Modular Technologies’ memory solutions. For electronics products manufacturers, bogus parts may lead to lawsuits, health hazards to customers and millions of dollars in added costs. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to fight back and prevent costly and dangerous counterfeiting.

IMPLEMENT TRACKING AND TRACING PROCEDURES

Technology provides effective ways for you to keep your eye on a product throughout every facet of its journey to your factory. Authentication systems enable you to employ user-verifiable watermarks or serial product identifiers, marks only visible under UV light, micro text and guilloches (complex lines often found on bank notes). Companies can also utilize the monitoring methods that sellers of perishables rely upon to keep their goods fresh in order to trace a product’s progress from the start of the supply chain to its terminus.

ALLOW FOR END USER VERIFICATION

The same near-field communications (NFC) technology that facilitates contactless purchases at retail locations can be purposed to give end users a way to verify the authenticity of a product. To accomplish this, your company could place an NFC tag on an item that can be scanned and verified by the consumer via a simple app on their smartphone.

PREVENT DUPLICATIONS WITH BLOCKCHAIN

The same technology that runs cryptocurrency like Bitcoin can also be used to fight counterfeiting in your supply chain. It uses a distributed ledger to store, authenticate and track data. Think of it as a permanent digital signature that travels with the item and can be tracked by all stakeholders, including end users.

REGISTER TRADEMARKS WITH CUSTOMS OFFICES

No doubt, your company is diligent about registering its trademarks with intellectual property offices in the countries where you do business. However, because counterfeit items can often be spotted first by customs officials, you should also make it a priority to notify them as well.

TRAIN YOUR STAFF

Knowledgeable staff members can detect and prevent counterfeit items – but only if they know how. To that end, teach them how to identify fakes and to monitor the flow of goods. Should anyone suspect that a product is counterfeit, they should know how to report it and to whom.

SCRUTINIZE YOUR SUPPLIERS

No matter how robust your internal anti-counterfeiting program might be, your best-laid plans can be foiled if you don’t give the same attention to your suppliers and trading partners. Perform audits of their practices to ensure that their components and raw materials are authentic. As an added measure, run your own checks on their products periodically to gain assurance that they are genuine.

Fake products and materials raise your cost of doing business and can do serious damage to your brand. They can sometimes even be dangerous for customers. As an organization, you should do all you can to reduce the impact of imposter items on your own reputation, your suppliers and your end users.

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