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Killer Japan quake jolts Sony factories to a halt

Don't worry, they can still make (most) of your phone parts

By Shaun Nichols, 18 Apr 2016

Sony says that it will be resuming production at several of its largest Japan manufacturing facilities following a series of devastating earthquakes in the region, though some other factories remain offline.

The Japanese electronics giant said that its Kumamoto Technology Center semiconductor manufacturing plant has been offline since the quake hit in Southern Japan on April 14, and will continue to be shut down while the company investigates damage to the facility.

Sony said that all of its employees and staff have been accounted for and none are believed to be among the 42 people killed so far by the quake and its aftershocks.

The Kumamoto plant is tasked with manufacturing the image sensors for digital cameras, security cameras and microdisplays. No timeframe has been given for production to resume.

Meanwhile, Sony's main image sensor manufacturing plant in Nagasaki and its factory at the Oita Technology Center have once again resumed production after being halted April 14. A third facility, at the Kagoshima Technology Center, continued to operate as normal after the quakes.

Sony said it does not yet have an estimate for how the disaster will impact its financial books.

Japan's status as a hub for both the development and manufacturing of electronics means that natural disasters in the country can have a major impact on entire markets. The 2011 Japanese earthquake left companies short on supply as factories in Japan struggled to resume production.

Similar issues were seen in Thailand when, in 2011, floods knocked many of the hard drive production plants in the region offline, leaving vendors short of stock.

Last week's Japan quake, fortunately, does not look as though it will have such a strong impact on production. ®

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing