Hitachi airflow sensors from japan is now in short suppy or not available so the vehicle manufactures globaly sorting to reduced production or halt the production. Now japanese manufactures needs to think and start their ancilary units in other countries for those products whih are marketed globally.
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.
The industry standard "Just in Time" supply chain does not work with major disruptions like the one in Japan. I am surprised by the lack of 2nd sourcing of the air sensors and wondering why auto manufacturers did not insist on physically separate and possibly completely independent second sources for all key components. This is a basic failure of risk management 101. One may argue that "who would have expected this?" but that is not a valid argument; earthquakes in Japan (and elsewhere) are not unusual nor unexpected. Yes the magnitude was significant but then again not a 1 in a million type of occurrence. We should learn from this experience and develop contingency plans for any major production area or specialized part supplier.
Yes, Just in Time has it's problems because it typically does not allow for catastrophes. Of course, second sourcing is pretty common but requires time to get parts in-house and, when an event such as those occur, second sources will often not have enough product available to meet the requirements.
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.
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."
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?
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.
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.
@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
As we unveil EE Times’ 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists Dan Armbrust (investment firm Silicon Catalyst), Andrew Kau (venture capital firm Walden International), and Stan Boland (successful serial entrepreneur, former CEO of Neul, Icera) join in the live debate.