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The global chip shortage is creating a new problem: More fake components


Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, in effect, electronic device makers have come under the pressure of unprecedented demand from consumers. With companies and individuals alike rushing to purchase PCs, smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles, manufacturers have suddenly found themselves needing vast amounts of semiconductors – the tiny components that constitute the "brain" of most electronics, and which are produced in most cases by third-party companies called foundries.

But foundries are currently unable to produce chips fast enough to cope with the surge in demand that is looking unlikely to calm down. Gartner estimates that the semiconductor shortage will last well into 2022, and has warned equipment manufacturers that wafer orders could come with up to 12 months of lead time in the coming months.

For some companies, this will mean finding an alternative way of stocking up on chips or shutting down production lines. In other words, the current times are opening up a golden opportunity for electronic component counterfeiters and fraudsters to step in.

The problem, of course, is unlikely to affect tech giants whose reliance on semiconductors is such that they have implemented robust supply chains, and will typically only purchase components directly from chip manufacturers. Those at risk rather include low-volume manufacturers whose supply chain for semiconductors is less established – but it could include companies in sectors that are as critical as defense, healthcare and even automotive.

Read more here

Image source: Sefa Ozel / Getty Images

The Data and Environmental Challenges of Remote Working and E-Waste


Surges in demand for electronics often have an environmental cost - more devices flood the market, producing more plastics and other materials that are either correctly recycled or end up as landfill, as well as more precious metals used up. In many ways, this is a necessary stopgap to keep our society up and running. But when this surge happens suddenly and on a global scale - driven by companies and organizations that need to accommodate a massive shift to a remote lifestyle - the quantity of e-waste can increase exponentially.

Then there are other climate considerations. Typically, businesses send ITAD partners devices by the pallet or truckload, neatly packaged and securely shipped from the corporate IT operation. But working from home has ended that level of consolidation. Instead, each remote worker ships their device in individual boxes, which produce more cargo and more Scope 3 emissions from their transportation. Imagine Fortune 500 companies with more than 50,000 employees sending over 100 laptops a day, every day from all over the country in separate boxes directly from their employees' homes. It’s a hugely inefficient waste of resources.

Sending devices directly also causes data security issues. Because of the speed of the shift to remote working, many of these devices are not managed by Mobile Device Management (MDM) software to give an IT department lockdown and remote wipe capabilities. Devices are then shipped to an ITAD partner along an insecure supply chain and with potentially inappropriate packaging and labeling. This may currently be an unavoidable consequence of the pandemic, but it creates some opportunity for data to get mismanaged or put in the wrong hands, which can have dire consequences.

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Image source: Jeffrey Jones.

Ecolabels and data sanitisation key to recycling and reusing IT assets


The need to provide remote workers with replacement technology caused a massive spike in demand for equipment, according to Fredrik Forslund, director of the International Data Sanitisation Consortium (IDSC). “All second-hand gear sold out, the whole industry globally saw every inventory selling out, and the demand was sky high and could not be met by the second-hand market or the first-hand market” he says, adding that the flood of replacement hardware means there is going to be “an enormous amount of infrastructure” that will need to be recycled or re-used.

To safely redeploy equipment, enterprises must first ensure that all data held on the device is irrevocably wiped. For recycling specifically, organisations also need to know what materials are in the device so that it can be approached safely, as many rare earth metals used in electronics can produce toxic waste if not dealt with correctly. One solution that has been on the rise is “ecolabels” which, similar to how ingredients are listed on food packaging, lets enterprises know exactly what materials their equipment contains.

“We know exactly what’s inside of food because that has been in demand in the market for a long time,” says Forslund. “But the same thing is starting to be visible in the IT industry where you have to show that: ‘This product contains the following materials, we stand behind the following production processes, we have been thinking about recycling and next steps, and we know this system can be sanitised and reused.’”

He adds that, on a consumer level, “we have started demanding organic and correctly produced foods [from the food industry], and I think you’ll see the same pattern in everything that we’re consuming – it’s happening in the fashion industry and it’s starting to evolve in the IT industry.”

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Insights from Inrego’s CEO Christoffer Sandell:

As the article states that the demand spike was enormous, probably we are already seeing this as the prices on re-used is diving down to the normal levels, as we had before entering the pandemic. Which creates a difficult global ITAD market. Many companies selling re-used to end users are struggling with having stocks with too high prices, which forces the ITAD industry to quickly sell out their stocks right now.

Image source: Computerweekly

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