How earthquakes in Japan can affect your next smartphone

How earthquakes in Japan can affect your next smartphone

The consequences of the earthquake in Japan are already being felt, and it is feared that the effects of the 2011 disaster will be repeated.

Thursday April 14southern Japan suffered a magnitude 6.5 earthquake, especially the island of Kyushu, the third largest in the Japanese archipelago and home to 13 million inhabitants.

Nine people died and some buildings fell, but at the time it seemed that it was not going to be as serious as on previous occasions. However, the constant aftershocks (more than 100 in two days), warned that the thing had not finished, and so it was.

A second earthquake shakes the Kyushu region

Last Saturday, April 16, just two days later, a second earthquake struck the same area of ​​Kyushu again, and in this case it was even stronger, with a magnitude of 7.3.

The consequences in this case have been much more catastrophic, and although not all the data is known at the moment, we know that at least 34 people have died, and thousands have been injured.

To this tragedy we must add the material damages, which in some cases are incalculable, such as historic temples and buildings that have been knocked down by the earthquake, like the Asa-jinja, one of the oldest shrines in all of Japan.

As the Japanese begin to think about rebuilding and getting back to their normal lives as soon as possible, the big question remains whether This earthquake will affect both the production and the economy of the country as did the 2011 Thoku earthquake., a possibility that many prefer not to imagine.

Today some companies have already made public some of the damage and consequences that this earthquake will have on its production, although others are waiting for the next Monday 18 to examine the data more calmly.

The consequences of the earthquake in Japan cameras for smartphones

However, this is not always possible when production in factories stops, as is the case with Sony factories in Kyushu, which have suffered damage that has seriously affected their production.

The Kumamoto factory has been closed and remain so indefinitely until it is considered safe to reopen it, while the Nagasaki factory has seen its operations partially suspended but it’s still open. Both factories are normally open 24 hours a day.

The key is that both factories specialize in CMOS image sensors for our smartphone cameras, and are the main source of parts for many smartphones cameras today. Specifically, Apple is one of Sony’s main customers, and uses its sensors on iPhones.

Sony controls 40% of the CMOS market, the integrated circuit that is responsible for converting the light that enters the target into electrical signals, so a lack of stock of these sensors would be a severe blow to both the company and the market.

But at the same time as the announcement, Sony wanted to make it clear that for now there are no parts supply problems, since had an inventory reserve; In addition, Sony has two more factories of image sensors in Japan that are fully operational. Lastly, Sony has promised that if there are supply problems it will announce it to its customers when they occur.

Tech and car makers shut down factories

Sony is not the only Japanese company whose production has been hit by the earthquake. Panasonic has closed its semiconductor factory, and while there appears to be no serious damage, the company wants to check the production line before reopening. It is the same case of Mitsubishi Electric, which has closed a semiconductor factory and a liquid crystal display factory.

The big three Japanese car manufacturers, Honda, Toyota and Nissan have decided to preemptively close the factories, although at the moment it does not seem that it is going to diminish its production capacity. Overall, the feeling is that it could have been much worse.

The Japanese philosophy of Just in time shows its flaws

Why is there so much fear of stopping production suddenly? It is all due to the Japanese Just in Time policy, which consists of always produce based on actual orders and never dedicate resources and money to overproducing a product that ultimately sits in the warehouse.

Thanks to this philosophy, which Toyota popularized, Japanese manufacturers considerably reduced costs since the factories only order the parts and the raw material absolutely necessary, and companies can react quickly to market demand.

However, the 2011 earthquake revealed the flaws in this line of thinking, especially whencar manufacturers found they could not meet demand, which seriously affected them in the competitive international market. Five years later, many of these manufacturers have implemented measures to prevent this from happening again, and now it is the first time that they have been tested.

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