Counterfeit Parts – What you need to know

Counterfeit Warning SignCounterfeit parts have a direct influence on Safety, Risk, and Configuration Management. The last line of defense to identify Counterfeit Products addressed in the AS9100:2016 Section 8.1 and 8.4.2.1. Is Project Management, sometimes referred to as “Advanced Product Quality Planning”.

Having experience in the detection and disposition of Counterfeit Products from 1964 to present I have seen everything from ignorance, deception and planned fraud.

When I became aware of suspect and counterfeit parts I was assigned as a Pipe Shop Supply Petty Officer. My duty on the USS Proteus AS-19 was to purchased items for the repair and overhaul of nuclear submarines. The job of repair, maintenance and overhaul of Nuclear Submarines was complex and difficult at times. The original parts and materials were purchase by the Shipyard performing the construction; you would recognize the Shipyard today as the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).

I had access to the navy supply manual in 1965 and it gave the descriptions, physical attributes, and most times a picture of the item, along with the Navy Federal Stock Number. The Stock Number was coded to allow the trained purchasing agent to identify the category of part ordered. Most of the common ship building material, parts and components were in the Navy Supply Manual and could be order using the standard 1250 Form.
The Nuclear Submarine were new so many parts, materials and components were not part of the Navy Supply System and referred to as Non Standard so we used the DD Form 1149. This required project planning to take on a new dimension for us. Within a few years I was moved into the Nuclear Division and because of my Nondestructive background and my skills purchasing material and as a project manager I was assigned the duties as a Nuclear and SUBSAFE Work Coordinator.

Our job to repairs, maintain and overhaul Nuclear Submarines required traceability “From Cradle to Grave” for all material, product, parts and components we purchased. All items needed had to have a clear path traceable through to the installation, and most of the time for components we would need validation during sea trials before the Submarine could be released for patrol duties.

In my day the Purchasing agent had clear process of how to frame the wording of the order to assure the needed degree of controls were communicated to the supplier and what objective evidence had to accompany the item.

When the material was received we would perform a reverse verification. Reverse verification would take place when the item was received the item, part, material or component. The sequence of inspection and verification would look like this:

Phase 1 Receiving Inspection

  • Check for physical signs of damage from shipping
  • Compare the original purchase order request to the receiving document request
  • Verify received item, e.g., quantity, size, color, etc.
  • All requested documentation was present

Phase 2 Quality Assurance Inspection

  • Detailed Inspection Based on the application and criticality of the part, e.g., Standard requirements, Level 1, Level 2, SUBSAFE, Nuclear, etc. the product would go through a detailed inspection
  • Permanent identification markings
  • Foreign object inspect, known as FOD today
  • Dimensional, Test Inspection, e.g., hydrostatic test, vacuum test, nondestructive test such as x-ray or ultrasonic inspection, etc.
  • Final acceptance approval

Example: Detailed Inspection of a Coolant Charging Valve “Nuclear” we would verify Grade A cleanliness, Certification report of the Actual Chemical Composition and Mechanical Properties, Valve and supporting document traceable to the foundry heat and lot number. Below is a sample of what the ASTM and AMS standard allowance for chemical and mechanical properties are for 304L Stainless Steal material.

Type 304L Stainless Steel from 0.01” to 0.25” – ASTM A 240, ASTM A 666, AMS 5511

Chemical Composition

Chemical Composition

The navy supply manual I used in 1965 gave the descriptions, physical attributes, and most times a picture of the item, along with the Navy Federal Stock Number. The Stock Number was coded to allow the trained purchasing agent to identify the category of part ordered. Most of the material, parts and components were in the Navy Supply Manual and could be order using the standard 1250 Form. Non Standard product and or service could be purchased using a DD Form 1149.