Secure Supply Chain for Military

Military supply chains have a problem. Counterfeit parts are infiltrating their operations. In fact, the US military estimates that up to 15 percent of all spare and replacement parts for its weapons, vehicles and other equipment are counterfeit.

These counterfeit parts and devices can compromise performance and reliability, risk national security, and endanger the safety of personnel by leaving them vulnerable to dangerous malfunctions. Solving issues related to counterfeit parts require costly rework, corrective actions, and full legal liability. Manufacturers also suffer from erosion of brand confidence which leads to brand damage, loss of sales, and remedial compensation costs.

Counterfeiting military devices and parts is a profitable business. Source material is inexpensive. Often production scraps, or reclaimed or obsolete components are used in the place of expensive quality parts. Counterfeiters are proliferating because detection is difficult.

The Department of Defense defines a counterfeit as a “Material whose identity or characteristics have been deliberately misrepresented, falsified, or altered without the legal right to do so.” This includes:

  • Improper internal construction (dies, mounting, wire bonds, etc.)
  • Used, refurbished, or reclaimed but misrepresented as new
  • Different package style, surface plating or finish
  • Did not successfully complete OCM process and test
  • Up-screened parts (MIL, Hi-Rel, etc.) but not fully tested
  • Modified labeling or marking (manufacturer, country of origin, form, fit, function, grade, or date of manufacture)

Defeating Counterfeiters with FeaturePrint

FeaturePrints extract data from images to perform micro-feature pattern recognition. Tens of thousands of distinguishing features compromise an object’s FeaturePrint. The underlying random molecular distribution creates a signature unique to each object and completely different from all other from the same manufacturing process. Each object has their own machine vision signature that is stored for later for confirmation by smartphone.

The FeaturePrint approach provides high-confidence confirmation without the need for expensive equipment, such as using X-ray inspection for detection, or expertise.

Examples of unique object signatures captured by FeaturePrint

FeaturePrint Demonstration using Aircraft Fasteners

FeaturePrint will authenticate the identity of a fastener without any custom markings or additive identifiers. This demonstrates the Alitheon cloud service that extracts, stores, and compares FeaturePrints.

Embedded Accountability and Traceability

Current prevention methods leave operators ill-equipped to handle these attacks from a complicated network of suppliers.

This lack of accountability and tractability in the Supply Chain can be solved. FeaturePrint Identity Confirmation system can provide:

  • High-confidence confirmation of authentic devices and parts
  • An API to integrate data into your existing tools
  • Record keeping for tests and results; are parts being tested for authenticity
  • Method to report issues when they are captured
  • Work with client to develop test plans and routines

Techniques Defeated by FeaturePrinting

  • Revising identifying information and metadata of a part (re-marking)
  • Using with surplus or rejected parts
  • Using replicas, dummy, or nonfunctional parts

FeaturePrint defeats these counterfeiting attempts by confirming the unique signature for that part or device. If the part or device wasn’t legitimately registered, it will not confirm as genuine. At confirmation, provenance and metadata such as date codes can be validated. This means traceability cannot be falsified. Individual components can be examined by their FeaturePrint to look for illegitimate substitutions.