SAN FRANCISCO—Fujitsu Ltd., Renesas Electronics Corp., Sony Corp., Elpida Memory Inc., Toshiba Corp., Nikon Corp. and Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL) were reportedly among several Japanese electronics firms forced to suspend manufacturing operations at facilities following a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck 205 miles north-northeast of Tokyo late Thursday (April 7) local time.
Fujitsu suspended operations at its chip fab in Iwate prefecture, according to a report by Bloomberg news service. Fujitsu had reported Monday that partial operations had resumed in the Iwate fab on Sunday for the first time since the original 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan March 11. Bloomberg reported that Fujitsu was checking on the status of its back-end semiconductor packaging facility in Miyagi prefecture, which had partially resumed operations March 23.
Bloomberg, which cited a Tokyo-based Fujitsu spokesperson, said Fujitsu was also checking on the status of a production facility that makes products for computers and printers in Fukushima prefecture.
The Reuters news service, quoting a Renesas spokesperson, said manufacturing had been halted by power loss at four fabs in northern Japan, including two microcontroller fabs. The spokesperson said power had been restored to one plant, but that it was not clear when manufacturing would be restarted.
Renesas had only recently restarted partial operations at several of the fabs that were knocked off line by the March 11 quake. As of March 28, operations had partially restarted at four of the five front-end chip fabs that were knocked off line by the March 11 earthquake. The company's Naka fab in Ibaraki prefecture, which sustained heavy damage, is not expected to be back in limited production until July.
Reuters reported that two Sony plants in northern Japan were halted by a power cut in the region following the aftershock. The plants, which produce optical devices, IC cards and other products in Miyagi prefecture, had just resumed partial operations March 28 after being knocked off line by the March 11 quake.
Reuters also reported that manufacturing was briefly halted at the Sony Shiroishi Semiconductor Inc. laser diode manufacturing facility in Miyagi prefecture, which had just partially restarted operations Wednesday for the first time since the March 11 quake, but that production there had resumed following inspections.
Elpida, Japan's only DRAM maker, reported that manufacturing was halted at its Akita Elpida plant due to power outage. There was no damage to the manufacturing equipment at Akita, Elpida said, adding that normal business operations would resume as soon as electricity was restored. Elpida's Hiroshima Plant suffered no impact because it is located in Hiroshima in the southwest of Japan, far from the northeastern regions hit by the earthquake, Elpida said. Reuters reported that the power blackout was affecting Toshiba's microcontroller fab in Kitakami, Iwate prefecture. A spokesperson for Toshiba told Reuters that it was not clear whether the aftershock would delay the restart of the Kitakami fab, which is scheduled for April 11.
Bloomberg reported that Nikon suspended production at two plants in Miyagi prefecture and that the company was assessing the damage. Miyagi Nikon Precision Co., which makes devices for IC/LCD steppers and scanners, resumed operations late last month following the March 11 quake.
TEL halted operations at three plants in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, according to the Bloomberg report, which quoted a Tokyo-based TEL spokesperson. TEL said last week that operations had just on resumed March 28 at its etch systems plants in Matsushima City, Miyagi prefecture and its RLSA etch development institute in Sendai City, Miyagi prefecture.
Thursday's quake--an aftershock from Japan's March 11 Great Tohoku Earthquake that measured 9.0 on the Richter scale--struck 40 kilometers below the seabed. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of Thursday's quake was 205 north/northeast of Tokyo, 41 miles east of Sendai, 70 miles east of Yamagata and 72 miles east/northeast of Fukushima.
This is really unfortunate that the people of Japan and the industries are going through a tough time.
I'm interested to know to what level (on the Richter scale) the semiconductor Fabs, other industries are designed to be protected against earth quake in Japan? 6.9? What is the standard which defines this? Is it time to raise the bar?
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