Blockchain system tackles component counterfeiting

September 13, 2017 // By Nick Flaherty
An anti-counterfeiting system based on blockchain could help the UK military and large manufacturers have more confidence in the electronic components they use.

UK consultancy Accenture has worked with French electronics maker Thales to develop a demonstrator that uses a number of different security techniques to provide security for electronic components throughout the supply chain using the same technology as digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The system is not just about security, but integration with the payment and business systems using smart contracts so that large OEMs can easily see the provenance of components says Mark Walton-Hayfield of Accenture Digital who led the development.

“Counterfeit parts are a real threat in manufacturing,” he said. “Earlier in 2017 the US armed services estimated that 15 per cent of the components in their machinery are counterfeit. We don’t even have an estimate for what that is in the UK military, but we should anticipate that it is comparable.”

The UK military introduced new standards for components in 2014 but there has been limited take up. ““Implementing stricter standards is an important step in improving quality in the supply chain, but so is enforcement,” said Walton-Hayfield. “We’ve developed this new technology to help companies do that quicker, easier and more accurately.

Accenture has demonstrated the system using an NFC-based crypto-tag on a bag of diodes, and using a physically unclonable feature (PUF) element in an FPGA, but other security techniques and sensors can be easily used.