Flooding in Thailand Disrupting HDD Manufacturing

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-10-17 Print this article Print

Storage analyst IHS iSuppli reported that Thailand's worst floods in more than 50 years could lead to a shortage of HDD supplies during the current quarter and that this situation may continue into Q1 of 2012.

Thailand, home to a large number of manufacturing facilities-which produce one-quarter of the world's hard disk drives-is being hit hard by heavy flooding that may directly affect the movement of hard drives into the various markets.

Storage analyst IHS iSuppli said in a flash market report Oct. 17 that Thailand's worst floods in more than 50 years could lead to a shortage of HDD supplies during the current quarter and that this situation may continue into the first quarter of 2012.

"While it is too early to gauge the extent of the impact of the floods, HDD supplies are likely to be constrained throughout the fourth quarter [of 2011]," according to IHS storage analyst Fang Zhang.

IHS's current HDD forecast, published before the disaster, calls for the production of 176.2 million hard drives during the fourth quarter, representing 25.9 percent of annual manufacturing in 2011. IHS likely will downgrade its fourth-quarter production forecast in light of the impact of the disaster, Zhang said.

Motors for Many Drives Affected

The floods, which have swept the country for the last two months following torrential rains, may have affected operations for the supplier of a key HDD component: the motor. Nidec Corp. supplies more than 70 percent of all global HDD motors, and all the major HDD manufacturers-including Western Digital, Seagate, Hitachi GST, Toshiba and Samsung-source motors from Nidec. Nidec has two subsidiaries in the country: Nidec Electronics and Nidec Precision, both located in Ayutthaya in northwest Thailand.

Western Digital, the world's No. 1 HDD supplier in terms of sales volume, and Toshiba have temporarily halted production of HDDs in Thailand, affecting a major portion of global hard-drive manufacturing. The companies operate HDD assembly facilities in Pathum Thani province near Bangkok.

WD has 37,000 workers in Thailand, and production in the country accounts for 60 percent of the company's total capacity. WD in the second quarter made 53.8 million HDDs, giving it a 32 percent share of the global market.

No. 2 HDD supplier Seagate, which has about 30 percent of the market, has a head stack and head gimbal assembly facility in Teparuk, Thailand. The company also conducts slider, head assembly and HGA operations in Korat, Thailand. However, both facilities have remained operational following the disaster.

Toshiba employs about 3,900 workers in Thailand, where about 50 percent of the company's manufacturing capacity is located. Toshiba was the No. 4-ranked HDD supplier in the second quarter of 2011, with 17.8 million units and a 10.6 percent share.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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