Disruption from Kumamoto Earthquake Hits Toyota Production

George Olcott, in Tokyo and Nick Oliver, in Edinburgh

Toyota announced yesterday that following its total closure of assembly plants in Japan from 20 April due to the Kumamoto earthquake, production would resume in stages from 25th April.

By 28th April, it is forecast that 18 of the 26 lines currently shut down will resume operations with production initially reverting to 80% of pre-earthquake levels.

A major bottleneck has been the complete closure of supplier Aisin Seiki’s Kumamoto plant, which produces key door components for Toyota. Aisin is making arrangements for overseas plants to supply these parts.

In other areas, particular in the recovery of local infrastructure, we are seeing many examples of the kinds of highly cooperative inter-firm behaviour that contributed so significantly to the rapid recovery of the supply chain in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake in March 2011, as described here.Examples include:

Electricity: regional electric power utilities located in Chubu (the Nagoya area), Kansai (Osaka) and the island of Shikoku have dispatched 500 employees to help Kyushu’s local electric power utility to help restore supply.

Gas: Tokyo Gas and Osaka Gas have sent around 1800 employees to help the local Kyushu gas utility to restore gas supply and detect and repair gas leaks. 500 vehicles are being sent to Kyushu by these gas utilities as part of this effort.

Such efforts to restore the badly damaged local infrastructure will be critical in the overall efforts to get the supply chain back to normal.

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