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Optics, Electronics Makers Assess Quake Damage

Photonics.com
Mar 2011
TOKYO, March 16, 2011 — The impact of last week's historic earthquake and tsunami off the east coast of Honshu, Japan, on optics and electronics makers has been mixed, with some reporting injured workers and severe structural damage to facilities, while others are mainly dealing with power outages and supply chain issues.

The 9.0 magnitude temblor was the fourth largest in the world since 1900 and the largest in Japan since modern records of such events began 130 years ago. At least 10,000 people are thought to have died and another 500,000 have been left homeless. The quake struck about 80 miles east of Sendai in Honshu, about 231 miles northeast of Tokyo.


Wikimedia Commons image by Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa)

Optics and imaging systems maker Edmund Optics said all its employees in Japan are safe and there was no major structural damage to its factory, but it was continuing to assess any potential damage to infrastructure and the impact of the quake and aftershocks on production and shipping.

"Delays in shipment are expected due to intermittent electricity, fuel rationing, infrastructure damage, and inaccessibility to major transportation. Shipping has been severely restricted in the region but EO is actively working with shipping carriers to address potential solutions," the company said in a statement.

"While every attempt is being made to continue production at our main factory in Northern Japan, Akita Prefecture, we are currently limited by electrical outages and restricted shipping. Our Japan staff is exploring every possible option to expedite EO goods to available and open airports; however, substantial delays are expected," Edmund Optics Vice President of Global Sales Thomas Kessler said this week in a letter to its customers worldwide.

Kessler added that the company is investigating transferring some work to its Singapore and Pennsburg, Pa., facilities.

Hamamatsu Photonics reported little direct impact from Friday's earthquake, due to its location about 310 miles from the earthquake's epicenter.

"We have completed inspections at each manufacturing plant, and no damage has been found," Hamamatsu posted on its website. "We are currently assessing the situation with our suppliers. At this time, we expect only minor delays as shipments make their way through congested channels."

Some companies with plants located closer to the epicenter were not so lucky.

Fifteen employees were injured at its Utsunomiya Office, Canon reported on its website Monday. The facility includes its optical products plant and optics R&D center. The earthquake had the greatest impact on three of its operation sites and five Canon Group companies, the company said on its website Monday.

While no significant injuries were reported to its employees, Sony said several of its Sony Corp. and Sony group sites and facilities that make Blu-ray discs, optical devices, lithion ion batteries and surface mounting equipment were affected, in particular its Sendai Technology Center. The company continues to monitor the status of each site. On Monday, it suspended operations at a number of its affected production facilities in Miyagi, Fukushima, Saitama and Ibaraki prefectures.

Some of its employees reported minor injuries, Panasonic reported on its website Monday. "We are suspending operations in the factory affected by the earthquake and continuing to evaluate further details of the damage," the company said.

The injuries occurred at its AVC Networks Co. factories in Fukushima and Sendai, where digital cameras and optical pickups are made, and at its Panasonic Electric Works Co. Ltd. Koriyama factory, a manufacturer of electronic materials.

Several of the affected companies said they were sending financial aid and other supplies to the affected region.

Melinda Rose
Senior Editor



GLOSSARY
electronics
That branch of science involved in the study and utilization of the motion, emissions and behaviors of currents of electrical energy flowing through gases, vacuums, semiconductors and conductors, not to be confused with electrics, which deals primarily with the conduction of large currents of electricity through metals.
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