After many of the sobering images of the devastating impacts as a result of the massive earthquake that occurred in Haiti, there are now occurrences of significant earthquakes occurring in both Chile and Taiwan.   Supposedly, scientists indicate that all three of these massive events are not related in terms of seismology.  I do not portend to be any where close to a scientist, but my practical sense seems to tell me that when the earth shakes so dramatically in one part of the globe, it must have some impact or push on other parts of the globe. In any case, these occurrences have to be causing many citizens in the world to be on edge. That includes businesses with critical supply chains that lie within the impacted areas.

The magnitude 8.8 quake that struck southern Chile on February 27, 2010 has led to a series of frequent and very powerful aftershocks.  The government of Chile continues to respond to the human casualty toll along with crumbled roads, fallen bridges and disrupted communications.  The latest concerns revolve around a potential outbreak of disease brought on by the effects of the devastation.  Commerce within the impacted areas has no doubt been disrupted and the long-term effects of the quake are yet to be determined.  From a global supply chain perspective, a particular concern relates to the mining of copper and lithium supplies which come from the northern regions of the country.  These areas do not seem to be directly impacted and have resumed operations but continuing aftershock activity surely remains a concern for suppliers and customers.

On Thursday, a major earthquake and several aftershocks struck Taiwan, the heart of many high tech, consumer electronics and apparel supply chains. The magnitude 6.4 quake struck near the city of Pingtung in the southern region. This quake was rather shallow (3.1 mile) in depth, and disrupted roadways, bridges and transportation, and damaged four undersea Internet cables in six different places. This damage to the SWM-3 (Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 3) cable temporarily disrupted all Internet service between Taiwan and China’s Guangdong Province, the major coastal manufacturing region of China. Service has since been rerouted through other cables and networks. There were also service disruptions on the CUCN (China, US Cable Network), APCN (Asia Pacific Cable Network), and FLAG (Fiber Optic Link Around the Globe) North Asia Loop between Taiwan and Hong Kong. In terms of production impacts, there were reports of a major fire in a textile factory in Tainin, and a recent report notes that the quake could significantly impact the production of LCD panels with two of the largest panel manufacturing plants closing their lines until damage can be assessed and repaired.

No doubt we may be discovering more effects of these series of major earthquake disasters across the globe, in human, infrastructure and supply chain disruption perspectives.  The sensitivity and concern levels related earthquake disaster have escalated, regardless of scientist opinion, and supply chain professionals need to be at the ready.

 Bob Ferrari