@DrQuine: airflow sensors are employed in multiple places within a vehicle. In addition to the example mentioned above, you can find a combined airflow+thermal sensor (like the ones manufactured by Cambridge AccuSense) used in many vehicles where you can set the cabin temperature. I have used AccuSense airflow/temp sensors in thermal characterization wind tunnels for semi packages. You can get airflow sensors of many makes and many countries today.
@peter.clarke: you are right, it is the question of getting the second and third source vendors to come on-line quickly assuming that there were enough qualified ones in the approved vendor list. But what I don't yet see is the mitigation of shortages in the sensor because of slower car sales which may be due to other reasons too (not to mention the $4.50 per gallon of gas price in the N. CA bay area!).
Dr. MP Divakar
It is not that this sensor CAN only be made in Japan but that the supply chain gravitated to a position where it WAS only made in Japan.
In fact demand will fall anyway. I have read that car sales in Japan in March fell 37 percent year-on-year, the biggest ever drop recorded. Because cars are not moving off care sales lots there will be less demand for car manufacture, which mitigate some expected supply chain shortages.
Indeed. In the computer disaster backup and recovery world, we would call this a "single point of failure". The solution is redundancy, not having spare parts on hand. For example, load-balancing two ethernet controllers connected to two different ISPs ensures that a catastrophic failure of one can never result in a complete loss of connectivity. On the other hand, having a spare ethernet controller on hand and the knowledge that other ISPs exist guarantees some down time. Second sourcing in JIT supply chains likewise guarantees down time. The solution is to "load balance" both sources in normal production. A loss of one source can then slow production, but never stop it. This is not easily accomplished, of course, due to intellectual property issues. The increased competition works in favor of the consumer, but not in favor of the supplier owning the IP.
Unless an alternate source can be found, or production can be restarted, this could be the start of another recession. With auto production shutting down because of this, lots of workers will be put out of work, at least temporarily.
This doesn't sound good at all.
These natural calamities take the developments back in time. Japan was coming up as one th emost advanced countries, but I guess they will bounce back. How much of the production happening in this facility?
What role do air flow sensors play in consumer cars? In the event that I'm not the only uninformed reader, I did some quick research in Wikipedia (again) and learned: "A mass air flow sensor is used to find out the mass of air entering a fuel-injected internal combustion engine. The air mass information is necessary for the engine control unit (ECU) to balance and deliver the correct fuel mass to the engine. Air changes its density as it expands and contracts with temperature and pressure. In automotive applications, air density varies with the ambient temperature, altitude and use of forced induction and this is an ideal application for a mass sensor."
It seems that these airflow sensors are particular to Japanese manufacturing. I remember reading in other EETimes articles about certain raw materials that are only available from Japan. I with agk that automobile manufacturers need to find another way to compensate. The closing of production lines for this one part can mean reduced jobs and many other consequences.