Yesterday, an earthquake measuring 6.3 magnitudes struck eastern Taiwan and it adds more food for thought in terms of having active supply chain risk mitigation plans. 

This latest major quake was reported to have struck at a depth of 19.5 kilometers and the epicenter was reported as 52.9 kilometers south of the coastal city of Hualien.

This tremor shook buildings in Taipei and according to a published Bloomberg report, caused the temporary evacuation of one of world’s largest semiconductor fab facilities. Limited damage was reported to the international airport.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) temporarily evacuated three separate fab facilities, but workers returned to their areas shortly thereafter. Another semiconductor producer, United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) temporarily suspended its operations and work was reported to have resumed after a few hours. According to Bloomberg, the administration of Hsinchu Science Park, where many of Taiwan’s high-tech companies reside, reported no reports of damage nor did the island’s 62 industrial parks. However, quite a number of aftershocks have occurred on the island.

This is not the first time that Supply Chain Matters has highlighted severe tremors in this region.  Our last was in March of this year.  Regarding yesterday’s occurrence, we were interested to read the U.S. Geological Service summary of this latest earthquake incident.  The report notes: “This region of Taiwan is familiar with moderate to large earthquake activity, and has hosted over 60 events of M6 or greater within 250 km of the October 31 event in the past 40 years.”

Interesting read when you consider that a considerable amount of the globe’s semiconductor chip fab capacity is located in the region. In August, we highlighted a study from a supply chain risk consulting services provider which identified that within certain automotive and high tech supply chains a vast majority of suppliers are dependent on component supply from just four semiconductor suppliers.  Guess where many of their fab facilities are located?

And, if the Taiwan incident is troubling, consider that yesterday, a magnitude 6.6 tremor occurred in Chile. The two countries was the largest reserves and mining capacity for lithium, which is now rather important for automotive and alternative energy related product supply chains, are Bolivia and Chile. Chile was hit by a 8.8 magnitude quake in 2010.

Plan accordingly.