Thai floods may sink component chain
Flooding in Thailand will have wide ranging repercussions for high tech components, especially the hard drive industry and mobile phones.
The damage will become clearer in the following weeks once the complex and often secretive supply chains become evident as the waters recede and the final toll is counted.
On Tuesday morning, the flood defenses of Thailand’s largest technology industrial estate, Bangpa-in Hi-tech Industrial Park, were breached and over a hundred thousand migrant workers are now being evacuated.
Earlier, news reports focused on the Rojana (heavy industry) industrial park with pictures of almost 700 brand new Honda cars with only their roofs above water shocking everyone. The water is between five meters and seven meters high in some places. Sony has already put off launching its A65 and A77 cameras due to supply chain issues – many Sony lenses are made in Thailand and, presumably, the cameras too.
Bangpa-In is home to Western Digital which makes most of its hard drives there, as well as Canon, DKSH, and Hana. More worrying for the telecommunications sector, the industrial park houses a small rather secretive company called Stars Microelectronics.
Stars is a specialist in capacitative screens and surfaces, supplying finished touch screen assemblies to leading handset makers in Taiwan and Korea, and even white capacitative clickwheels used in a certain company’s MP3 player. Many high end touchpads for notebooks are also assembled there and, more recently, the firm has expanded into toughened glass capacitative screens.
While the firm has requested its clients not be named, suffice it to say that most of the high end capacitative phone surfaces apart from that of the iPhone are finished in Thailand. If Stars’ production line is damaged by water, the world would face a severe shortage of high end handsets.
At the very least, even if the equipment is saved, the floods will cause a significant disruption in the worldwide supply chain.
The worst has yet to arrive, with peak floods and a high tide scheduled for later this week.