2011年3月23日 星期三


2011年 03月 18日 12:23
Japan Quake Exposes Risks In Global Supply Chain
Companies around the world are scrambling to retool their supply chains as they cope with the Japan earthquake─and many are finding they might not be as well-prepared as they thought.

Logistics experts said the quake's aftermath has exposed critical weak points for a slew of global businesses, such as electronics and automobiles.

General Motors Co. on Thursday became the first U.S. auto maker to close a factory because of the crisis in Japan. GM said it plans next week to idle a Shreveport, La., plant that builds small pickup trucks. The company cited short supplies for a Japan-made part it didn't identify and didn't say when it expected to restart production.

World-wide, companies slowed production or searched for new suppliers to avoid running out of components for which Japan dominates the market. Japan accounts for roughly one-fifth of the world's supply of silicon wafers used to make semiconductors, according to VLSI Research, and is home to a large number of manufacturers for a key material in liquid-crystal-display panels. The country also supplies about 90% of the world's supply of bismaleimide triazine, a chemical used in making circuit boards for telephone handsets.

'What good companies do is look at a supply chain as a movie, rather than as a photo,' said Yogesh Malik, a partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Instead of judging a supply chain by what suppliers can deliver at one moment, a well-prepared company accounts for rising oil prices, environmental activism and regulatory risks to determine whether the chain will hold for the next five years. 'It's not a matter of if, but when, something goes wrong,' Mr. Malik said.

An added wrinkle is that companies often buy parts from a producer that relies on raw materials or smaller components that come from yet another location, like Japan. Many companies were scrambling to figure out how much exposure they have to such hidden bottlenecks.

Honda Motor Co.'s Thailand operation said it was seeking information about the availability of Japanese-made electronics systems. The company's top executive in Bangkok, Atsushi Fujimoto, said the auto maker has enough parts to keep production going in Thailand until mid-April and is considering using alternative suppliers if its Japan-based plants remain closed.

Also in Thailand, Mazda Motor Corp. Managing Executive Officer Yuji Nakamine said the auto maker is waiting for information from Japan about component supplies and is slowing production near Bangkok. 'All Japanese manufacturers are affected but we need more time to get clearer details from our suppliers,' he said.

In Taiwan, Nan Ya Printed Circuit Board Corp. was looking for new suppliers of bismaleimide triazine. Its main supplier, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co., suspended production in Japan on Wednesday. Nan Ya 'is speeding up the testing of the substitute,' a person familiar with the situation said. 'Normally it would take three to four months, but this time it should probably take one month.'

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc., a major Taiwan chip-packaging company, said it was attempting to get new supplies of the plastic molding compounds, which are used to house semiconductors, from China and South Korea.

Even companies that said they were unaffected by Japan's crisis qualified their statements with 'so far' and 'yet.' South Korean memory-chip maker Hynix Semiconductor Inc. said it has enough inventory of silicon wafers to continue operating normally in the short term. 'But if the situation lasts longer, it may impact not only Hynix but the whole chip-making industry,' a spokeswoman said.

By building inventories and diversifying their range of suppliers, companies can spare themselves much of the anxiety rippling across Asia and beyond, analysts said, even if it might cost more to store contingency supplies.

Some logistics specialists have warned that just-in-time delivery systems─pioneered in Japan and often used in the technology and car industries to deliver components and raw materials only when they are needed─are vulnerable to supply shocks. Many global producers also have moved in recent years to pare their roster of suppliers to get reduced rates from the suppliers they do use. That creates risks if that smaller base is unable to deliver goods.

The political turmoil in the Mideast and North Africa, Iceland's volcanic eruption last year and China's move in September to restrict exports of rare-earth materials should have put companies on notice. 'Heightened risks and outright disruptions are coming at us at a furious pace and it is absolutely critical that firms be prepared with detailed contingency plans,' Jeff Karrenbauer, president of Insight Inc., a Virginia-based consulting firm specializing in supply chains, wrote recently.

To some degree, the disaster in Japan is unusual. The country has carved out a niche as a high-end producer of many advanced components and materials, and Japanese companies often dominate their sectors. Japan supplies 78% of the global supply for the electrode materials in lithium-ion batteries, nearly all of the protective polarized film for liquid crystal displays and large quantities of other high-tech materials, according to Credit Suisse AG.

Nonetheless, the deepening worries over supplies of such goods is underscoring how disasters can trigger global supply shocks.

Sweden's Volvo Cars, a unit of China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., said it has only about a week's supply of Japanese components and that unless the company can acquire more parts soon, production will be hit significantly.

Volvo Chief Executive Stefan Jacoby and the rest of the executive board are meeting every morning to monitor supplies and assess contingency plans. One possibility is to partially manufacture some models and fit them later with the missing components, though that could work for only a short time. Another possibility is to shuffle some production to focus on models that aren't as affected by the supply shortage.

James Hookway / Aries Poon

2011年 03月 18日 12:23


Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

通 用汽車公司(General Motors Co.)週四成為第一家因日本此次危機而關閉工廠的美國企業。該公司說﹐它打算下週讓公司在路易斯安那州什里夫波特的一家工廠停產﹐這家工廠生產小型皮 卡。通用汽車將關閉該廠的理由歸因於一種日本生產的零部件出現了供應短缺﹐它沒有說是哪種部件﹐也沒有說這家工廠預計何時能恢復生產。

世 界各地的企業都在放慢生產速度或尋找新的供應商﹐以避免那些主要依賴日本生產的零部件出現產品斷檔。據市場研究公司VLSI Research說﹐全球用於生產半導體的硅片大約有五分之一都是由日本生產的﹐日本還有大量製造商生產一種液晶顯示器面板所需的重要材料。這個國家還提 供著全球約90%的BT樹脂﹐這是一種用於生產電路板和手機的化工原料。

咨 詢企業麥肯錫公司(McKinsey & Co.)的合伙人馬利克(Yogesh Malik)說﹐好的企業是把供應鏈看作電影而不是相片。一家準備充分的公司不應該用供應商在某一時刻能提供什麼為標準來判斷其供應鏈的優劣﹐它們在判斷 現有供應鏈是否應再保持五年的時候﹐應該將不斷上漲的油價、環境保護主義以及監管風險等因素考慮進去。馬利克說﹐問題不是事情是否會出問題﹐而是何時會出 問題。


本 田汽車公司(Honda Motor Co.)的泰國業務說﹐它正在就日本產電子系統多大程度上可以保證供應的問題搜尋相關信息。本田泰國業務的負責人Atsushi Fujimoto說﹐公司手中的零部件足以將本田在泰國的汽車生產維持到4月中旬﹐如果本田的日本工廠繼續關閉﹐公司將考慮使用替代供應商。

馬 自達汽車公司(Mazda Motor Corp.)的管理執行官Yuji Nakamine說﹐該公司的泰國業務正在等待日本方面有關零部件供應的信息﹐並且正放慢曼谷附近工廠的生產速度。他說﹐日本所有生產商都受到了此次災害 的影響﹐我們需要更多時間來進一步瞭解我們供應商的詳細情況。

台灣企業南亞電路板公司(Nan Ya Printed Circuit Board Corp.)正在尋找新的BT樹脂供應商。其主要供應商三菱瓦斯化學株式會社(Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co.)週三在日本暫停了生產。據一位知情人士說﹐南亞電路板公司正在加緊測試替代產品的性能﹐這一過程通常要用三到四個月﹐這一次應該只需一個月。

台灣重要芯片封裝商日月光半導體製造股份有限公司(Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc.)說﹐它在想法從中國大陸和韓國獲得新的塑料成型化合物供應﹐用於半導體的封裝。

有 些公司說自己未受日本危機的影響﹐但它們的措辭也使用了“目前為止”、“尚未”之類的限定用語。韓國內存芯片製造商海辦士半導體(Hynix Semiconductor Inc.)說﹐它的硅晶圓庫存可供短期內繼續正常運營。但一位發言人說﹐如果事態進一步延續﹐影響的或許不只是海力士﹐而是整個芯片製造產業。


一 些物流專業人士曾提醒﹐零庫存(just-in-time)送貨體系很容易遭受供應沖擊。這種制度在日本首創﹐常被科技行業和汽車行業採用﹐只在需要的時 候才運送零部件和原材料。全球很多生產商還在近些年減少供應商數量﹐以便在合作供應商那裡獲得折扣價。如果供應商群體在規模變小後無法發貨﹐那麼這樣做就 造成了風險。

中東和北非的政局動盪﹐去年冰島火山爆發﹐以及中國去年9月份採取措施限制稀土出口﹐本應引起公司的注意。弗吉尼亞專長於供 應鏈的咨詢公司Insight Inc.總裁卡倫鮑爾(Jeff Karrenbauer)最近撰文說﹐更高的風險和直接的中斷正在以發瘋般的速度向我們襲來﹐各公司準備好詳細的應變計劃是絕對關鍵的。

從 某種程度上來講﹐日本發生的災難非比尋常。這個國家作為很多先進零部件和先進材料的高端生產國﹐已經開辟了一個專屬市場(niche)﹐而日本公司在這些 行業中常常是處於支配地位。據瑞士信貸(Credit Suisse AG)數據﹐日本供應的鋰離子電池所用電極材料佔全球供應量78%﹐液晶顯示器所用偏振光保護膜幾乎佔全部﹐其他高科技材料也佔很大部分。


中國浙江吉利控股(Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.)子公司、瑞典沃爾沃汽車(Volvo Cars)公司說﹐日本零部件的供應大約只夠維持一週﹐如果公司不能迅速採購到更多零部件﹐生產將會受到明顯沖擊。

沃 爾沃首席執行長雅各布(Stefan Jacoby)和其他高管每天上午都開會﹐掌握供應動態、評估應變計劃。一個可能採取的措施是不完全地生產部分車型﹐以後再裝進現在沒有的零部件﹐不過這 樣做只是短時間有效。另一個可能就是調整部分產能﹐集中生產受這次供應短缺影響相對不大的車型。

James Hookway / Aries Poon