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Japan‚??s earthquake and tsunami: initial impact on semiconductor industry

12 March 2011 | By Mark Osborne | News > Cleanroom

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Objective Analysis: IC Plants in JapanUpdate 4. An 8.9-magnitude earthquake off the north-east coast of Japan was said by experts to be the largest to hit the country in over a century. A massive tsunami 10-metre (33-foot) high battered coastal towns and cities across the northeast coast with Sendai, north of Tokyo affected the most by the disaster. Saturday, March 12th news of a hydrogen explosion at a nuclear power station on the coast in Fukushima and the potential for further deterioration are dominating news channels around the globe.

Significant aftershocks continued 24 hours after the quake it but is yet unknown whether plants would be operating, even intermittently during this time.

Fab shutdowns, as expected during the quake were implemented, however with few plants close to the major affected north-east coastal region (see map courtesy of Objective Analysis) the initial impact on facilities is not as bad as could be expected.

The market research firm noted in a flash press release that over 40% of the world's NAND flash and roughly 15% of the world's DRAM are manufactured in Japan.

In another flash press release, IHS iSuppli noted that Japan accounted for 13.9% of all global electronic equipment factory revenue in 2010 and suppliers accounted for more than one fifth of global semiconductor production.

Toshiba and SanDisk joint-venture semiconductor manufacturing plants, Fab 3 and Fab 4, were said by the partners to have been down for a short period of time due to the earthquake and were back up and operational as of Friday morning, Pacific Time.

A statement by SanDisk noted that there had been no injuries to SanDisk employees based in Japan. SanDisk said that its current assessment is that there had been minimal immediate impact on wafer output due to the earthquake. SanDisk would continue to assess the situation for any potential future impact, especially related to Japanese infrastructure and the supply chain.

Indeed, the supply chain for continuing fab operations and product shipments could be more severely affected by the scale of the natural disaster.

IHS iSuppli noted;

“Japan is a significant source of chips to support consumer electronics devices.  A two-week shutdown would remove from production a sizable share of each of these.  It doesn't take a large production decrease to cause prices to increase dramatically.  Objective Analysis anticipates phenomenal price swings and large near-term shortages as a result of this earthquake.”

Update 1.

UMC issued a statement today noting that its fab operations in Japan, located at Tateyama City, Chiba were evacuated and there was no one injured.

The magnitude of today's earthquake was level 5, according to the statement.

UMC said that its fab capacity in Japan represented only 3-5 percent of its total capacity, “so there is no significant impact on UMC's financial and business,” UMC said in the brief statement. 

Update 2.

Shin-Etsu Group’s production sites in Annaka, Gunma Prefecture, Kamisu, Ibaraki Prefecture and Shin-Etsu Handotai’s Shirakawa polysilicon plant in Nishigo Village, Fukushima Prefecture were shutdown after the earthquake due to lack of electricity supply.

Three employees of Shin-Etsu Handotai’s Shirakawa Plant were slightly injured by the earthquake, the company said. Fukushima Prefecture was one of regions badly affected by the quake and tsunami that followed.

The company said in a statement on its website that facilities would be inspected for damage and one by one restarted after safety checks proved successful.

Elpida provided the following business status report based on information available as of March 12:

Hiroshima Plant
The Hiroshima Plant suffered little impact because it is located in Hiroshima in the southwest of Japan, far from the northeastern regions struck by the earthquake.
As of the morning of March 12 the Plant is operating normally without any need to scrap wafers due to seismic effects.

Akita Elpida Memory
At noon on March 12 the Akita Elpida plant was shutdown due to a sudden electric outage caused by the earthquake. Electric power is now recovering in the Akita district and is reported to come back on by the evening of March 12. Elpida has confirmed that equipment and products at the plant suffered very little damage. The company believes that normal business operations can be resumed by the early morning of March 13.

Elpida is working to communicate with suppliers but available information is currently insufficient. The company will continue to gather and analyze all information from suppliers.

Logistics and distribution
Normal operations are expected to resume on Monday (March 14).

Elpida cautions that information remains incomplete. Company officials indicate that avoiding confusion or misunderstandings about business operations will depend on allowing more time to make a full assessment. Currently, managers and employees are working as fast as possible to carefully check operations at every level to make sure that business can proceed normally.

ON Semiconductor said it was currently working to assess the impact to its employees and facilities both in Japan and affected areas. Initial reports said that no employees have been injured outside of the workplace.

The company said that its global business continuity team would be assessing the infrastructure stability, impact on the work in progress (WIP) and inventory levels in the various channels to determine the status of supply chain logistics.

ON Semiconductor reported the following concerning facilities in Japan.

The Aizu (ON Semiconductor owned) 6-inch production facility has reported no power loss and limited physical damage to the facility.

The Niigata (SANYO Semiconductor - ON Semiconductor owned) wafer fab had no power failure. The site was evacuated as a precaution but operations have been restored. Initial reports are of limited damage to the facility.

The Gifu (leased production from SANYO Electric) wafer fab had no power failure. Fab lines are ok and running. Initial reports are of limited damage.
The Gunma (leased production from SANYO Electric) manufacturing facility has reported power loss. Production impact will be assessed when power and communications are restored.

The Kasukawa (leased from SANYO Electric) and Hanyu (SANYO Semiconductor - ON Semiconductor owned) back-end facilities have reported building damage. Official inspection is underway but has not been completed.

Update 3.

Monday 14th.

Sony Group has said that due to the power shortages and government calls to limit power consumption it would voluntarily suspend manufacturing operations at several sites. However, Sony noted that the Sony Corporation Sendai Technology Center (Tagajyo, Miyagi) has ceased operation due to earthquake damage. Possible damage at other Sony Group companies in Japan is currently being reviewed.

The company noted that no significant injuries have been reported to employees working at any of plants and offices when the earthquake and tsunami occurred.

Manufacturing operations have been suspended at the following affected production sites:

Sony Chemical & Information Device Corporation
Tagajyo Plant (Miyagi Prefecture) <Magnetic Tapes, Blu-ray Discs etc.>
Tome Plant, Nakada/Toyosato Sites (Miyagi Prefecture) < Optical devices, IC cards etc.>

Sony Shiroishi Semiconductor Inc. (Miyagi Prefecture) <Semiconductor Lasers etc.>
Sony Energy Devices Corporation, Koriyama Plant (Fukushima Prefecture) <Lithium Ion Secondary Batteries etc.

Sony Energy Devices Corporation, Motomiya Plant (Fukushima Prefecture) <Lithium Ion Secondary Batteries etc.

Sony Manufacturing Systems Corporation, Kuki Plant (Saitama Prefecture) <Surface mounting equipment etc.

Sony DADC Japan Inc., Ibaraki Facility (Ibaraki Prefecture) <CDs, DVDs etc.>

Additionally, Sony Chemical & Information Devices Corporation, Kanuma Plant (Tochigi Prefecture), Sony Energy Devices Corporation, Tochigi Plant (Tochigi Prefecture) and Sony Corporation Atsugi Technology Center (Atsugi, Kanagawa) temporarily suspended operations on a voluntary basis, to assist with the alleviation of widespread power outages.

Semiconductor equipment supplier, Advantest Corporation announced that it incurred minimal damage from the disaster. Advantest Laboratories, an R&D facility located in Sendai, sustained no serious damage, after initial inspections.

The company is presently seeking to confirm the safety of employees and their families in the area. No injuries or deaths were reported among employees elsewhere in the country as of Monday 14.

Advantest said that some of its facilities resumed operations on Monday. These included its Gunma Factory Gunma Factory 2, and Gunma R&D Center, in Gunma Prefecture; and the Saitama R&D Center, in Saitama Prefecture.

Advantest said it would be making every effort to minimize the impact on operations and production schedules due to the rolling blackouts being implemented due to the power shortages.

“Friday’s earthquake was the most powerful quake to hit our nation in recorded history. Advantest extends heartfelt condolences to the families of those who perished in the earthquake and the tsunami, and to those who have lost their homes and livelihoods,” said Haruo Matsuno, president and CEO of Advantest, in a statement.

The company has set up an emergency response headquarters and task team that is continuing to investigate the situation.

Panasonic Corporation said today that there were some minor injuries to employees at various manufacturing sites, including, AVC Networks Company Fukushima Factory (manufacturing digital cameras), AVC Networks Company Sendai Factory (manufacturing optical pickups), Panasonic Electric Works Co., Ltd. Koriyama Factory (manufacturing electronic materials), SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. Gunma Factory (manufacturing washer/dryers etc).

Saftey inspections were continuing to be implemented.  Operations in the factory (Sendai) affected by the earthquake had been suspended.

Inotera Memories has said that it has sufficient inventory of materials and equipment spare parts, normally supplied by Japanese suppliers for some of its operations for the “near-term.” Impact to operations could not be ruled-out should any supply issues caused by the natural disaster in Japan that continue for a “certain period of time.”

The Taiwan-based DRAM manufacturer said it was closely monitoring the impact on overall supply chain of materials and equipment parts to ensure the supply remain sufficient.

TSMC also made a statement on Monday 14 that the March 11 earthquake in Japan had no significant financial or operational impact on TSMC.

Update 4.

Fujitsu Group announced on the March 14th that earthquake has affected the operations. A disaster response headquarters has been established, with President Masami Yamamoto acting as head chief, to collect information on the safety of all Fujitsu Group employees and on the extent of damage sustained by Fujitsu Group facilities and its customers.

The company said that it has experienced damage to buildings and production equipment including the ceilings, walls, and drain pipes, which disrupted operations. 

As Fabtech has previously outlined, Fujitsu noted that the planned rotational electricity blackouts have affected its operations based in the Kanto region of Japan.

The company released the following details:

Main Fujitsu Group Companies in the Tohoku Region with Damages to Buildings and Production Equipment

Iwate Prefecture

Fujitsu Semiconductor Limited - Iwate plant (Kanegasaki-cho, Isawa-gun)
Miyagi Prefecture

Fujitsu Integrated Microtechnology Ltd. - Miyagi plant (Murata-cho, Shibata-gun)
Fukushima Prefecture

Fujitsu Semiconductor Limited - Aizu-Wakamatsu plant (Aizu-Wakamatsu-shi)

Fujitsu Semiconductor Technology, Inc. - Main plant (Aizu-Wakamatsu-shi)

Fujitsu Integrated Microtechnology Ltd. - Main plant (Aizu-Wakamatsu-shi)

Fujitsu Isotec Limited - Main plant (Date-shi)


ON Semiconductor facilities in Japan in relation to earthquake epicenter


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