During the February 2022 Global SMT Conference, Arch System’s Gadi Meik, Senior Director of Industry Strategy and Applications, joined a live panel discussion about supply chain security and counterfeit avoidance within the manufacturing industry. Drawing on decades of collective experience, Meik and fellow panelists Zac Elliott from Siemens and Michael Ford of Aegis Corporation spoke about the importance of security within the supply chain and how counterfeiting has become even more of an issue for companies during the time of COVID.

Moderator Trevor Galbraith helped the panelists explore several key challenges of security and counterfeit goods entering the supply chain. The group started by exploring the challenges of large manufacturers to keep IP and designs private as they work with third parties for both design and production.

The panel agreed that a secure chain of custody for data was vital. Meik reminded the group that traditional ways of passing information—like sending raw data over email—were dangerous norms and it was long past time to leave them behind. The group agreed that manufacturers working with third parties had to adopt more secure collaboration platforms and better ways of securing data.

The rest of the conversation shifted toward understanding issues related to material provenance and counteracting the influx of counterfeit products showing up in the supply chain and into the hands of consumers. Manufacturing is quickly entering an era, explained Elliott, where industry-wide standards would need to be created and met so that consumer goods like smart refrigerators couldn’t be used to access customer data by bad actors, becoming a security risk.

Achieving that goes beyond software-only approaches, he argued. It also requires creating a system where suppliers would fingerprint each part of a product with its own unique and trackable ID. This process would allow manufacturers to track security flaws more closely and ensure the components they are using are inspected and safe. Later on in the conversation, Meik echoed this sentiment by saying that manufacturers need to add layers of inspection that would look for counterfeit products sent to them by suppliers.

However, while the industry needs to adopt new processes around security, one central point the group highlighted was the need for enterprise companies to start sharing data. One hurdle to this, Ford mentioned, was the worry of many companies that sharing any data with outside sources might lead to the exposure of IP. Ford proposed that new technologies would need to be developed that allow manufacturers to check the provenance and history of components without giving away closely guarded information. One step towards sharing information that Meik suggested was for manufacturers to start sharing their internal scoring of suppliers so the whole industry could avoid problem merchants.

Besides these highlights, the panel also spoke about the need for embedding APIs at the chip level, the hurdles of industry 4.0, and what new processes for sharing information could look like. It is a great conversation on an important topic. Click here to watch the panel discussion in its entirety.