Late last night, while monitoring Twitter, we picked-up on breaking news “tweets” reporting that a major 6.1 magnitude earthquake had occurred in the vicinity of central Taiwan.  While earthquakes often occur in this region, a strong tremor that occurs at a shallow depth can be a cause for considerable concern. Knowing that this area in the epicenter for high tech and consumer electronics supply chains, we immediately re-tweeted this news with hopes that our readers would be on-alert to both the event and the potential for disruption.

Fortunately, for those residing in the impacted area, damage was reported as minimal.  Tragically, one fatality occurred along with some injuries. As we pen this commentary, there is a report that a number of large production facilities had to be quickly evacuated.  They include two separate facilities operated by the world’s largest semiconductor fab producer, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), but according to the company, no interruption in production schedules is expected.  Three other companies with operations in Taiwan–chipmaker United Microelectronics, flat-panel maker Innolux, and liquid crystal display manufacturer AU Optronics each indicated in public statements to Bloomberg that they expected no impact from the quake.

These names, along with others, should be very familiar to our readers since they are each key strategic partners to large and smaller global high tech OEM’s. Any disruption involving any of these suppliers would probably have a significant supply chain impact without a supply chain risk mitigation plan.

Earlier this month, we were alerted to a startling report from Japanese media. A Japanese government panel predicts that if a magnitude 9.1 earthquake, similar to the size of the quake that struck the northern coastal region in 2011, were to hit off the southern coast of Japan, it could cause upwards of $2.3 trillion in economic damages, ten times the economic impact of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.  That would equate to 40 percent of Japan’s current GDP. This estimate regarding a worst-case scenario is sensitive because of a long-expected quake potentially occurring along the Nanki Trough, a roughly 4 kilometer deep depression on the seabed that extends from Suruga Bay to areas off eastern Kyushu.

Think for a moment about what occurred in 2011, and the impacts incurred on aerospace, automotive, high tech, industrial and other supply chains. The impact to supply and brands was enormous and far-reaching.

These are all timely reminders of the realities of supply chain related risk, and the critical importance for having active supply chain risk mitigation and business continuity processes.

What’s the status in your organization?

Bob Ferrari

Added Note: This author will be speaking on this timely topic at an upcoming monthly meeting of the Central Pennsylvania APICS organization in Harrisburg Pennsylvania on Wednesday, April 17. The meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn Harrisburg East beginning at 5:30pm.  For further information and registration, please email registration <at> apics-cp <dot> org.