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SEMICONDUCTORS Earthquake in Japan: How big is the effect on chip production?

From Luke James

On March 16, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit Japan and immediately stirred up fears for potential disruption to microchip manufacturing operations in the region and the impact this could have on the ongoing chip shortage.

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Last week, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake off the Coast of Miyagi hit Japan, leading to widespread power outages.
Last week, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake off the Coast of Miyagi hit Japan, leading to widespread power outages.
(Source: Andrey VP - stock.adobe.com)

Kioxia fab shut down for inspection

The intensity of the earthquake reached magnitude 5 at Kioxia’s K1 Fab, which particularly damaged wafer input. The fab has since been shut down for inspection and the company’s Q1 2022 production capacity has been downgraded. That said, spoiled products and materials should be minimal as wafer damage was limited to the duration of the earthquake.
TrendForce says that Kioxia’s utilization rate may be slow to recover in the next week which could cause a further downward revision. Other Kioxia fabs in the area remain unaffected.

Sony and Renesas suspend operations

Sony reportedly has three factories in zones near to the earthquake’s epicenter. As a precaution, the company announced that its storage media factory, semiconductor laser factory, and image sensor factory have all had their operations suspended.

Meanwhile, Renesas, a big name in the automotive sector, has temporarily shut down certain operations and is carrying out a thorough inspection of its facilities. The company initially paused operations at its Naka, Takasaki, and Yonezawa facilities in the wake of the earthquake, however production initially resumed for some test lines at all three facilities on March 17th. According to an update published on March 18th, Renesas expects to reach “full pre-earthquake production capacity (wafer input base)” on March 20th at its Yonezawa facility and March 23rd at its Naka and Takasaki facilities. “As of March 18 JST, Renesas has so far received no reports on casualties or significant facility damage,” the update says.

Toyota adjusts production operations

On March 18, Toyota announced that it would be adjusting its production operations in some of its Japanese plants because of the effects of the earthquake.
“Due to the parts shortage resulting from suppliers affected by the earthquakes, additional adjustments will be made to production operations in some plants in Japan as follows. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience these adjustments may cause our customers and relevant suppliers,” the company’s press release reads.
Toyota will be suspending production until at least March 23 on lines at plants including Motomachi, Takaoka, Tahara, and Fujimatsu.

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