How Will the Japanese Earthquake Affect the Optical Media Industry?
On March 11th, 2011, the country of Japan was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami. The powerful earthquake was recorded as a 9.0 magnitude on the Richter scale, making it the most severe earthquake to occur in Japan in recorded history. The earthquake damaged roads, buildings, and infrastructure while flood waters from the tsunami spread inland and destroyed countless homes and businesses. With cleanup and recovery efforts still underway, the total extent of the damage is not yet known.
What we do know is that the earthquake’s epicenter is in the Pacific Ocean, some 80 miles off the coast of Sendai. The massive quake and aftershocks could be felt as far away as Tokyo, where many of Japan’s high tech manufacturing firms are located. The question is, what effect will this terrible natural disaster have on the optical media industry?
Reports have began to emerge from Japanese-based manufacturers about the status of their factories. The Taiyo Yuden Corporation has recently issued a press release stating that their operations have been temporarily suspended due to structural damage to their building. The company operates a production line which manufactures blank CDs and DVDs in Fukushima.
Taiyo Yuden is a highly respected company in the data storage industry because of the quality of their discs. They are credited with inventing the recordable CD-R in 1988 and have a patent on the organic super-cyanine dye that makes recording on CDs possible.
The effects of this temporary shutdown remain to be seen, but hopefully for the company and for the Japanese economy, they will be able to resume their operations soon.
Another company affected by the earthquake is Seiko Epson, manufacturers of the Epson DiscProducer publisher and autoprinter. A notice posted on the company’s website reveals that four manufacturing facilities in northern Japan have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami. These include the Epson Atmix facility in Hachinohe, Akita Epson in Yuzawa, Epson Sakata and Tohoku in Sakata, and Epson Toyocom in Fukushima.
Epson stated that it will begin to gradually resume operations at the Akita Epson facility starting on March 14th. The other three facilities will be closed until further notice. Hopefully these temporary plant closures will not affect the global supply of disc publishing machines such as the Epson DiscProducer, though at this point it is too early to know for sure.
Finally, we have some good news from the Rimage Corporation. Initially, it was reported that a Rimage supplier which manufactures thermal printer ribbons may have been affected by the earthquake. However, an updated message from Rimage posted on March 17th confirms that Rimage’s Japan office as well as their employees and their families are safe and sound.
Rimage’s message also mentioned that none of their suppliers received direct-impact devastation, and that the company is fully stocked with supplies for the first quarter. This is good news for printer owners who need to purchase replacement Rimage thermal ribbons and supplies.
As rescue and cleanup operations continue, we will keep you updated on the latest news regarding Japanese manufacturers and the effects on the optical media industry.