It has been two days since our Supply Chain Matters breaking news alert published on Friday on the occurrence of multiple severe earthquakes impacting southern Japan. While the major focus continues toward tending to the injured and missing, along with the assessment of the impacted region’s major infrastructure, the supply chain disruption implications are indeed evident and potentially include multi-industry dimensions.
Numerous incidents of aftershocks continue to impact the area which is hampering efforts by companies to assess damage to facilities and supply chain operations. Reports that we are monitoring indicate that Toyota will gradually halt automobile production across Japan because of a shortage of components. The Toyota Lexus production plant in Fukuoka prefecture remains in production halt for the remainder of this week. The Tustsumi plant which produces the Toyota Prius will halt production from Tuesday thru Saturday of this week.
Toyota supplier Aisin Seiki has acknowledged the discovery of broken walls, windows and assembly equipment at its facilities in the quake area but has indicated that plans are underway to shift the production of door and engine parts to other owned facilities located in other parts of Japan as well as other external plants. The open question is how much additional time will be required to implement this shifting of production.
Other automakers such as Honda and Nissan have also halted operations within factories within the impacted region. Honda has a motorcycle manufacturing plant near the city of Kumamoto.
Sony is assessing damage to its smartphone image sensor plant in Kumamoto indicating that that plant operations are unlikely to re-start soon. Sony’s camera image sensors are included in the Apple iPhone but the supplier has indicated that full operations remain at its plants in Nagasaki and Oita which also produce sensors used in smartphone cameras.
Semiconductor producer Renesas Electronics confirms it has sustained damage to equipment at its plant in Kumamoto which produces microcontroller chips for automobiles. Further assessment of damage remains to be completed before deciding when to resume production at this particular facility.
In addition, on Saturday, a more powerful magnitude 7.8 quake struck Ecuador, about 17 miles from the northwestern coastal city of Muisne, near the border with Colombia. What makes this incident so concerning is that this earthquake lies on the same geological “Ring of Fire” plates that surround the Pacific Ocean. Thus far, more than 200 deaths have been confirmed and there are reports of significant damage to the region’s infrastructure.
The top exports of Ecuador are crude petroleum, bananas, crustaceans, processed fish and cut flowers.
Such considerable natural disaster events occurring over a short period of time should cause ongoing concern for multi-industry supply chain professionals since there is a lot of strategic component, commodity and finished goods production located in various regions along the “Ring of Fire.” These incidents continue to remind all that the North America west coast region including California, Washington State and Oregon remain vulnerable to a major earthquake. As geologists constantly remind regarding the U.S. west coast region, it is not a matter of possibilities, but rather a matter of when a rather significant seismic event occurs.
Another aspect already being raised by business media has been what learning came from the 2011 major earthquake and subsequent divesting tsunami that struck northern Japan regarding supply chain disruption and business continuity planning, and how that will come into play over the coming days and weeks.
Our thoughts and prayers remain with the numerous victims of these disasters along with the impacted families. These tragic natural disaster events provide constant reminders that are planet remains fragile to devastating seismic and climate related events.