Japanese Supplier of Microchips Disrupts Mitsubishi Production After Earthquake

Japan was hit by a magnitude 6.2 earthquake this Thursday, which also affected the automotive industry.
Nissan's Kyushu assembly line 1 photo
Photo: Nissan
As we reported on Friday, Toyota and Nissan had to idle production at two plants, but the natural disaster affected other carmakers and suppliers as well.

This time, Mitsubishi's Mizushima factory was idled, and an important supplier called Renesas Electronics Corporation had to stop production as well.

Mitsubishi's plant will not be operational on Sunday, and it will function at half-output on Monday, while production will be suspended entirely on Tuesday.

After the company analyzes the effects of the quake on its facility and regains contact with its suppliers, it will return to regular output. However, returning to full production will be an issue for more automakers, as the Renesas' Kawashiri plant, located in Kumamoto, was also affected.

This company manufactures microcontrollers for the automotive industry, and they export the units to regions outside Japan. Because of this situation, other automakers might suffer delays and drops in production in the coming weeks.

When asked about the gravity of the situation by Automotive News, a spokesperson from Renesas did not provide details regarding the affected customers, or how the output would be changed in percentages.

After-effects of the earthquake have prevented workers from entering the facility to assess the damage. Without this critical information, which is expected to be obtained in the coming days, the factory's managers have not been able to provide an answer to the pressing issue.

Since Renesas manufactures microchips and microcontrollers, it has a special “clean room.” The latter is fragile and contains toxic materials, which must be approached and handled with care. Furthermore, every person who comes into contact with the room must wear protective clothing.

The procedure described is standard for manufacturers of sensitive electronic equipment, as any speck of dust on the smallest component could cause the microchips to fail in time, especially if they get embedded into units.

Other suppliers, like Aisin Seiki Corporation, have halted operations. One of its facilities provides parts for the Toyota Group, while its second plant manufactures die-cast engine components for several brands. The mentioned suppliers are in the Kumamoto city, located in the Kyushu quake zone.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
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Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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