Flooding caused by cresting rivers, rising waters, and a damaged dyke north of Bankok are now expected to cause major disruptions in the photo industry that may affect camera availability worldwide.
As Thailand's low-lying capital city braces for the worst flooding in half a century to reach its precincts, over 13,000 factories with 400,000 workers in seven major industrial parks, mostly in Ayutthaya Province, have already fallen victim to flooding in that country. Canon, Nikon and Sony are among the major photo manufacturers to see their facilities partly or mostly under water, and shut down for the indefinite future. The implications of the flooding for the photo industry are growing more ominous every day.
At Adorama, our hearts go out to the victims of the Thailand flooding. You can donate to relief efforts through the Google Crisis Response web site.
According to Yomiuri Shimbum, a Japanese newspaper, Nikon and Sony factories may have "no prospect of recovery" from the damage, implying the companies may need to build new factories from scratch. Many factories are expected to remain closed through the holiday season.
Red indicates severe flooding areas, including industrial parks, north of Bangkok. Map © Google.
Sony, Nikon especially hard-hit
Sony manufactures all of its DSLRs in two of its damaged facilities, which are currently under three meters of water, and has announced that the release of the NEX-7 and Alpha 65, which were to become available next month, have been delayed indefinitely.
Nikon's factory, which produces entry-level and enthusiast DSLRs and is reportedly responsible for 90 percent of Nikon's DSLR production, is reportedly under approximately two meters of water. The company reports that there have been no injuries to its employees, but their personell cannot access the facility to determine how long it will take to get it back up an running. Nikon is looking at alternate production facilities.
According to a Nikon spokesperson, the company does not keep a large inventory of cameras on hand, but rather delivers cameras straight from the factory to dealers. As a result, the effect of a shutdown on availability is almost immediate.
While Canon's DSLR production was not directly affected, a factory that manufacturers printer-related products have been shut down, and the company is considering moving those operations elsewhere.
Hard drive, CCD and CMOS sensor shortages expected
Other companies whose facilities have been closed due to flooding include Wetern Digital, which makes 60 percent of its hard drives in Thailand. Toshiba, which makes hard disks for computers, has suspended its operations, which is expected to result in widespread shortages of disk drives throughout the computer industry. Sanyo, which makes CCD chips, is also shut down indefinitely while Sony Devices Technology Thailand, which produces CMOS and CCD sensors for DSLRs, is also submerged, reportedly under four meters of water.
Thailand's government estimates it will take up to six weeks before the waters recede. A $180 million recovery package is being prepared to help factories return to production approximately 45 days after the waters have abated.