Since our initial Supply Chain Matters alert ten days ago regarding monsoon-related floods impacting Thailand, the magnitude of the ramifications supply chain disruption is becoming more measurable for automotive, high tech and consumer electronics supply chains, and the duration of disruption more extended.  Meanwhile, water is massing just outside the capital city of Bangkok with the provincial governor warning that heavy flooding in the city is imminent. The United Nations is now warning of pending food shortages in the regions as rice and other vegetable crops become more inundated with flood waters.

Last week, high tech electronics firms were compelled to issue business impact statements.

Thailand represents significant disk drive production output, estimated to be close to 25 percent. Some estimates that global output could fall as much as 30 percent in the next three months, which is a significant magnitude of disruption. Industry forecaster iSuppli is indicating that industry disk drive supply could constrained until Q4-2012, which is sobering. The test will be how much of residual inventory and allocation strategy can buffer the impact for those further up the value-chain.

Disk drive maker Western Digital indicated that flooding of production facilities within Thailand, which represents close to 60 percent of its hard disk drive production, is having a “significant impact” on operations and its ability to fulfill customer demand. The facility represents 10 percent of Western’s total worldwide output. Seagate Technology, another disk drive manufacturer indicated its production will be impacted in the current quarter though it indicated that its Thailand facilities remain operational.

The floods are additionally impacting component suppliers with ON Semiconductor, Hutchinson Technology and Microsemi Corp. each indicating a substantial impact in supply. ON Semiconductor indicated that its Sanyo chip operations will remain shutdown indefinitely. Severe damage is suspected but workers have been unable to assess the overall damage. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the company expects the flooding to impact earnings for a minimum of 3-4 quarters with an estimated $40 million to $60 million in lost revenues per quarter.

Both Nikon and Sony have also indicated disruptions may impact the production of digital cameras and lenses as well as delay new product launches. These producers will already in the process of mitigating disruptions from the March tsunami that impacted northern Japan.

The potential impact to PC related companies could not come at a more inopportune time.  Customer shipments to satisfy the upcoming 2011 holiday buying season are about to occur while the implication of consumer preference for tablet and smartphones threaten to erode revenues and product margins. While many PC manufacturers remain silent, Apple CEO Tim Cook was quoted that he expects an overall industry shortage of disk drives.  A statement such as this emulating from the head of Apple is a sure indication of industry concern. Industry shortages will lead to price spikes and potential hoarding if suppliers do not institute controls.  The head of contract manufacturer Jabil’s supply chain, indicated at the Kinexions conference last week that if it were not for the proactive anti-hoarding and allocation buffer policies of Japan based component suppliers after the March tsunami, the situation could have been a lot worse for contract manufacturers. The same potential situation faces PC OEM’s who procure the bulk of disk drive inventory for their respective contract manufacturers.

Similarly, automotive supply chains are now incurring the impacts of the floods. A Wall Street Journal report indicates that Toyota will reduce production hours at its plants in Japan for the remainder of this week in order to cope with expected shortages of some parts. Toyota had previously scaled back production volumes in Indonesia the Philippines and Vietnam, and three plants in Thailand due to parts shortages. An estimated 100 parts have been impacted by supply disruptions.

We often communicate the overall importance of the ability for supply chain teams to perform scenario and contingency planning.  What if supply chain component supply was impacted by 10-20-30 percent? Unfortunately, in high tech and automotive sectors, these scenarios are becoming very real. As was the case after the Japan tsunami, the resiliency and determination of supply chain teams will be ultimate test of how long and to what degree, industry supply chains are impacted by the monsoon floods that remain occurring throughout Thailand and the Asia region.

Bob Ferrari