Company / Events
Ample Solutions QA Centre Case-Study 1: How to Identify a Counterfeit Label
2022.12.15

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Since the global chip shortage crisis, there has been an influx of counterfeit and subpar chips in the trading market. Among all things, label counterfeiting is the most common and prevalent, causing many individuals and companies monetary and reputation loss. As a industry leader in quality control, Ample Solutions adopts a zero-tolerance policy towards counterfeit chips. Our stringent quality assurance process boasts a 100% interception rate to ensure no counterfeits get mixed into our clients' supply chain. 

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Figure 1. Label from supplier

Recently, Ample’s Quality Assurance(QA) Centre has received a label (Figure 1) that belongs to a batch of Infineon's IRFP4668PBF. At first glance, the label looks perfectly normal, but there is more than meets the eye. Let us take you through the label inspection process carried out at Ample’s QA centre.

IT IS ALL ABOUT THE DETAILS

Most of the current chip labels are printed with laser markers or a designated label printer, with specific typesetting. The text on the label should be clear, inconspicuous, clean and difficult to erase. Therefore, by inspecting the chip label’s authenticity, a preliminary judgment can be made on the authenticity of the chip.

First, the inspection engineer would compare the label image provided by the supplier against the authentic product labels in the Ample QA database, as shown in the Figure 2 below. Through comparison, the typesetting of the label provided by the supplier is generally consistent with the authentic product labels in the database, hence the label is preliminarily judged to be of the correct format. 

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Figure 2. Label from supplier(Top left image), Authentic labels from Ample's database(the rest)

Does this mean that the label belongs to an authentic product? Hold your horses. Read on to spot the abnormalities through more thorough and detailed comparisons.

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Figure 3. Label from supplier(Top left image), Authentic labels from Ample's database(the rest)

Through the comparison in Figure 3, there are noticeable differences in the typesetting of the supplier’s label and the authentic labels from Ample’s database.

A DETAILED SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON

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Figure 4. Label from supplier(Top left image), Authentic labels from Ample's database(the rest)

From Figure 4, these differences can be spotted:

  1. The font used on the supplier's label is thicker, and the alphabets “n”, “e” and “o” (marked by the arrows) are thicker than those on the authentic labels.  

  2. The gap between the horizontal strokes in “f” is smaller; the gap between the dot and vertical stroke in “i” is also smaller.

  3. The hand in the ESD symbol has smooth outlines for the supplier’s label while the outlines of the hands are wavy on the authentic labels.

  4. The numbers 6 and 8 are inconsistent with the authentic labels.

  5. The gap between the colon and “S” on the supplier’s label is smaller than that of the authentic labels.

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Figure 5. Label from supplier(Top left image), Authentic labels from Ample's database(the rest)

Let’s zoom in on one more detail - the "9D" on the supplier's label has a shorter distance from the barcode as compared to the 3 authentic labels, and the space between the colon and the year is also smaller; the font of number "2" is thicker as well.

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Figure 6. Label from supplier(Top left image), Authentic labels from Ample's database(the rest)

As shown in Figure 6, the gaps between the alphabets and barcode strokes on the supplier’s label is smaller, the middle hollow portion of the letter “A” is smaller, and the font is thicker overall; the middle stroke of “H” is centred on supplier’s label while the stroke is slightly above centre on the authentic labels.

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Figure 7. Label from supplier(Top left image), Authentic labels from Ample's database(the rest)

In Figure 7, the distance between the “(Q)” and the barcode is shorter. The brackets and the number “0” on the supplier’s label are relatively smooth, while the lines on the authentic labels are uneven.

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Figure 8. Label from supplier(Top left image), Authentic labels from Ample's database(the rest)

In this partial close-up shown in Figure 8, the distance between the batch and barcode is wider on the supplier’s label; the distance between letter “I” on the supplier’s label and the barcode is narrower. The "o" portion in the number "6" on the supplier’s label is larger, occupying two-thirds of the entire font, while the "o" occupies half of the number “6” on the authentic labels.

Ample Solutions Quality Assurance_How_to_identify_counterfeit_label_8.jpgFigure 9. Label from supplier(Top left image), Authentic labels from Ample's database(the rest)

As shown in Figure 9, the distance between the part code and the barcode is shorter on the supplier’s label, and the distance between the colon and the following letter “M” is shorter; the "v" arch in the letter “M” is smooth while the "v" arches on the authentic labels are wavy; The distance between the QR code and the barcode on the supplier’s label is wider than those of the authentic labels.

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Figure 10. Label from supplier(Top left image), Authentic labels from Ample's database(the rest)

Referring to Figure 10, the date code “9D: 2150” on the supplier’s label does not match the string of numbers “105SL202107” on the extreme right. Let us explain the correlation between these two sets of numbers using the authentic label at the bottom left side of Figure 10. The date codes “2138” and “10SL210924” respectively. We only check “2138”and “210924” for correspondence. “21” refers to year 2021 and “38” refers to the 38th week, which accurately corresponds to “210924” - 24 September 2021. However, the date codes on the supplier’s label “2150” and “202107” clearly do not match.

CONCLUSION & SUBSEQUENT ACTIONS

With inconsistencies such as label typesetting, font and mismatched information. This label has been confirmed as an abnormal label. When this happens with this batch of stock not being purchased, the quality inspection personnel will recommend cancelling the order and purchasing the stock from another supplier. The subsequent product provided by the new supplier will go through the same stringent inspection process. If the batch of stock with abnormal labels has already been received in the warehouse, they will undergo the secondary inspection. 

We hope this little case-study has given you some insights into Ample’s stringent quality assurance process in safeguarding our clients’ interests. 

ABOUT AMPLE'S QUALITY ASSURANCE CENTRE

At present, Ample’s QA centres have over 60 state-of-the-art professional testing equipment and more than 50 qualified inspection engineers. It adopts the 3-tier international standard QC process with the 4th tier outsourced testing by Foxconn Testing Innovation Centre as part of our strategic partnership; all to ensure that we only deliver authentic quality components to our clients.

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To find more about Ample's QA services, contact us at marketing@ample.sg.

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