Tech Strategy Trends

Mar 21 2011   9:25PM GMT

Japan Disaster to Have Long-Term Impact on Technology

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

It was bad enough that Japan was rocked to its core by 9.0 magnitude earthquake off its shore. It was bad enough that the earthquake stirred up a tsunami that broadsided the island nation and washed away entire homes with a giant wave. It was bad enough that a volcano eruption was also triggered. It was bad enough that thousands of lives were lost. It was bad enough that nuclear reactors across Japan are on ther verge of meltdown and radioactive catastrophe following the natural disaster. Now, technology will also suffer the fallout of Japan’s bad fortune.

According to a report from iSuppli, a tech research firm, “Manufacturing operations have stopped at Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd.’s Shirakawa facility. MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. also stopped manufacturing at its Utsunomiya plant.” These two facilities account for a quarter of the production of silicon wafers used in making semiconductors.”

The iSuppli report also states, “These companies supply not only domestic Japanese demand for wafers but also semiconductor manufacturers around the world. Because of this, the suspension of operations at these plants could have wide-ranging implications beyond the Japanese electronics industry. A 25 percent reduction in supply could have a major effect on worldwide semiconductor production.”

There are a variety of factors impacting the ability of the Japanese manufacturers to resume operations. Many employees were killed by the disasters. Facilities may have been damaged. Roadways are impassable. Some areas are still evacuated due to the threat of nuclear meltdown.

iSuppli believes that the existing supplies are sufficient to keep PC and other tech gadget manufacturing going, but that if production doesn’t resume in Japan within about two weeks, there will be problems.

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