Thursday, March 26, 2009


Electronic Supply Chain Solutions showcased the Safe Source Seal Aerospace Sourcing Assurance Program. This year’s Quality Leadership Forum hosted by NASA at the Kennedy Space Center was the place where industry leaders gathered to discuss the issues of deep concern to all companies in the military and aerospace industry. Those in attendance were witness to a theme that resonated throughout the two day event of speeches and work shops, and that was “Lessons Learned”.
NASA spoke of failed missions, our Navy told of the submarine Thresher that sank in the 60’s, and the Bureau of Industry and Security gave statistics that raised many questions but offered few answers. The DCIS gave an account of how they can prosecute counterfeiters if only companies would step forward and report them without the fear of repercussions. NQA’s President Kevin Beard told of how the quality community hoped to bring change with the update to the AS9100C Standard .Quality professionals from prime contractors such as BAE, Boeing, Ball Aerospace, General Dynamics, Honeywell, JPL, Lockheed Martin, NASA, Orbital Sciences, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon and other s listened in hopes of learning about the pending AS5553 standard and to grasp the “take away” from this prestigious event.
After many presentations on the issues, hurdles and obstacles facing our industry, a few solutions to part of the problem were presented, yet all agreed there is no “silver bullet”. The JPL quality team provided a Counterfeit Parts Avoidance workshop they plan to take on the road to teach their contractors how to combat counterfeits and mitigate risks. The JPL gave thanks to organizations such as ERAI , IDEA, Electronic Supply Chain Solutions and others, whose content was utilized in composing this valuable tool. Many participants related real world experiences, making this workshop even more beneficial to all in attendance.
There were only two AS9120 certified Independent Distributors invited to present during the QLF and both had something different to offer on how to mitigate the risks associated with sub-standard & counterfeit components. SMT Corporation’s Vice President Thomas Sharpe showed a short film of his recent first-hand experience in China where he photo-documented the component counterfeiting trade that threatens our national security. Mr. Sharpe also demonstrated his company’s tremendous investment in test & inspection equipment along with SMT’s recommended component authentication inspection processes that generates documented results that accompany all product shipments.
The final presentation was on the Safe Source Seal Aerospace Sourcing Assurance Program.
AS9120 certified Electronic Supply Chain Solutions’ President Matthew Heaphy III and Military Solution Provider Ken Rogers described how ESCS came to create the first audited program that identifies through a tier system the source of the product sold, thereby giving the receiving inspection team a heads up as to which inspection protocol to apply. Mr. Heaphy outlined the mechanics and what gives Safe Source Seal “teeth” through audited source verification. This program is only available to those suppliers who are AS9120 certified, as suppliers that are only ISO 9001 certified do not have the systems in place to meet the rigors of Safe Source Seal for the demands of aerospace AS9100 companies. Ken Rogers asked those in attendance if they thought dealing with ISO companies posed a major quality disconnect and many agreed.
The “lesson learned” from ESCS is that, while there is no silver bullet, companies can mitigate risks by simply following the below recommendations:
Establish a company-wide risk mitigation strategy
Educate yourself by visiting
Limit your suppliers to those who share your standards for quality. (AS9120 certified)
Buy from those who have demonstrated use of a worthy inspection protocol such as the ESCS A2Z component inspection & testing protocol
If you cannot trace the product back to the OCM, test it for both authenticity and functionality.
Ask your suppliers to agree to visits on short notice to verify unaudited processes such as inspection and testing that are not part of an aerospace audit.
If your suppliers are not yet participating in the Safe Source Seal program, find out if they have set a timeline to achieve that. Learn more at
Don’t settle for less. Your company’s future depends on you and your attention to quality. "They say let the buyer beware". ESCS says let the buyer be aware!""