As we pen this Supply Chain Matters posting it is just past daybreak in Japan and early evening in the U.S. eastern time zone.  Breaking news indicates that a magnitude 7.0 earthquake has struck early Saturday on Kyushu Island, the same region hit by a 6.2 quake two days ago.  The U.S. Geological Society reports that this latest quake struck just west-southwest of Kumamoto-shi and about 8 miles south-southeast of Ueki, the epicenter of the late Thursday tremor that left nine dead.

While it is still early, one geologist is indicating that this latest quake has “severe, serious implications in terms of damage and human losses.”

An earlier report published by Automotive News regarding the effects of Wednesday’s quake had indicated that Toyota and Nissan had earlier suspended production at two automobile assembly plants because of damage incurred at two factories of a key supplier. The report indicates that a body factory and a die-casting plant, both operated by Aisin Seiki Co., and located in Kumamoto region, were damaged and both facilities have been shut down.  These plants produce sunroofs, door frames, door handles and other associated automotive body parts. Workers were not able to enter these factories to assess damage because of the occurrence of frequent aftershocks.

Toyota had suspended output for both Friday and Saturday shifts at its main Lexus assembly plant in southwestern Japan, as well as nearby engine and transaxle factories. Nissan on the other hand continued production at its Fukuoka assembly plant in the Kumamoto region but also elected to suspend weekend shifts because of supplier shutdown.

With the report of the latest major, and far stronger magnitude 7.0 earthquake occurring in the same region of Japan, chances are that there will likely be other industry supply chain disruption rippling through Japan in the coming days.

Obviously it is rather early to speculate and first priority must be directed towards protecting human life and maintaining safety in the region.

With the ongoing threat for subsequent added aftershocks, industry supply chain ecosystems that extend to this region should be under alert to monitor ongoing events. Teams need to be ready to assess any added supply chain disruption over the coming hours and days.

Bob Ferrari