Japanese situation updates
The latest updates from Japanese manufacturers affected by the earthquake and tsunami continue to paint a checkered picture. In some places production is indeed restarting, but operations are still suspended across a large number of facilities, with many untouched by the natural disaster still affected indirectly by the supply shocks on the prevalent Just In Time production system.
Sony says that recovery plans to resume operations at most of the remaining manufacturing sites have already begun to be implemented, though operations at certain sites that sustained no direct damage are now being affected by planned power outages as well as shortages of raw materials and components, causing those sites to temporarily suspend a part of their operations.
The company has provided a long and detailed list of the situation at manufacturing sites across Japan, but boiling it down to those relevant to the broadcast sector comes up with the following:
Suspended. Inspection, restoration and repair underway
Tagajyo Plant (Miyagi Prefecture) – Magnetic tapes, Blu-ray discs, etc
Suspended. Awaiting raw materials and components
Tokai Technology Center, Kosai Site (Shizuoka Prefecture) – Broadcast and professional equipment
Tokai Technology Center, Kohda Site (Aichi Prefecture) – Camcorders, digital still cameras, etc
As to the continued availability of recordable media stock, the company has this to say which may well be relevant: “At this time, Sony will endeavour to maintain supplies of the listed products in the market through reliance on existing inventory, to the extent available. While Sony is making every effort to resume normal operations at these sites, in the event shortages of necessary raw materials and components at these sites will continue, the Company is considering alternatives, including possibly temporarily shifting certain manufacturing operations overseas.”
Pansonic meanwhile has issued the following statement on the situation: “While placing priority on the safety of Panasonic’s employees and in cooperation with the planned power outages scheduled by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and Tohoku Electric Power Co., Panasonic is preparing to resume production at factories in the affected region while confirming the supply of electricity, gas and water, as well as the situation of logistics and supplies.”
Sony has released an official statement regarding the aftermath of the effects of the Japanese quake and tsunami on its production lines, with speculation on the internet rife that levels of XDCAM and HDCAM SR media in particular are going to be badly hit.
The statement puts as much of a positive a spin on a terrible situation as it can and runs as follows:
“We sincerely appreciate all kind words of support we received while Sony is recovering from the earthquake which struck the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan on March 11th. Fortunately, there is no report of injuries to our valued employees as of this date, and it has been a great relief for us all.
“However, due to these unforeseen events beyond our control, operations at several of our factories manufacturing our professional and storage media products have been affected, hence preventing us from supplying as usual our professional and storage media products for a time that is still uncertain at the moment.
“We have just started assessing the condition of the production facilities and the equipment, and we will keep you posted on our recovery plan once we get more detailed information.
“Please be assured that we will do our best to resume as quickly as possible the supplying of the professional and storage media products when the situation improves.
“Thank you for your kind understanding and warm thoughts towards us.”
When the perspective is widened out to the CE industry as a whole, however, the official assessment has been bleaker. A Sony Ericsson statement released at the end of last week stated:
“The affected area in northern Japan supplies a large portion of the world’s electronics industry with components, and the current situation will impact Sony Ericsson’s business.
“As part of our business continuity plan, we are in contact with all our key suppliers in the region and we are identifying the possible relocation of certain component manufacturing, and looking at secondary sources of supply. Although the full impact of the current situation on our business will take additional time to assess, Sony Ericsson anticipates disruption to its supply chain operations.
“We continue to monitor our supplier situation daily, in real time, and we will keep our operator and retail customers informed about the status of their specific supply.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reports Sony spokeswoman, Mina Minami, saying that the company has evacuated all staff at the six facilities that remain closed (whose output includes magnetic tapes, optical devices, integrated circuit cards, and semiconductor lasers). One plant in Kuki, Saitama prefecture, has fully recovered and resumed operation, while another plant in Ibaraki, Ibaraki prefecture has partially resumed production. Read the full article, which includes speculation that iPad2 production could be hit, here: Sony says six Japan plants remain halted