Military Embedded Systems

BAM Blog: Back to Basics: Why a legitimate Certificate of Conformance (C of C) matters


April 23, 2014

George Karalias

Rochester Electronics

Before & AfterMarket (BAM) Blog: In simple terms, a Certificate of Conformance -- commonly referred to as the ‘”C of C” -- is a document put into place to assure that the product being procured, and ultimately used in an application, meets a specific set of standards and regulations. In the semiconductor industry, the C of C is distributed mostly with military-grade components, and allows the end user to prove that the devices are authentic. Unfortunately, there is a large gap in the acquisition process relating to the C of C, which in turn also leads to a gap in the procurement of fully-authorized components.

As it stands today, one highly-recommended C of C template and guideline (which can be found here: only calls for a single supplier to be listed. This unfortunately does not always tell the truth about the entire procurement process.

In many cases, gray market suppliers will source minimum buys from fully-authorized sources in effort to obtain a legitimate C of C. If the specific purchase order does not call for a minimum buy, these suppliers will procure the rest of the devices from the most cost-effective source they can find. The obvious flaw here is that the C of C that is submitted with the order and given to the end user does not reflect all sources and channels used to acquire the components, and as a result, the end user could be getting a mix of authentic and counterfeit devices for their application. End users that have mission-critical applications for the military, for example, cannot afford to obtain malfunctioning parts. If the devices they procure experience latent field-based failures, the result can be tragic, and even result in death.

So what is the overall point? Buyers should make sure the supply source that is utilized is fully authorized by the original component manufacturer. By using a fully-authorized source, buyers can be assured that the C of C they receive is genuine; the parts do not run the risk of being counterfeit; the devices they procured are from a single vendor, and not purchased from numerous brokers and independent distributors in the gray market. Using a company that produces a legitimate C of C assures that the components you receive will be 100% authentic and deliver proper performance. Some companies, like Rochester Electronics, provide a C of C on all orders, including those of commercial-grade components, offering customers traceability of the devices and integrity in their designs.


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