How quake is disrupting supply of batteries, LCD displays
Following our story on Tuesday about the increase in the price of memory chips due to the Japan quake, it has become clear that the supply chain for more electronics is going to be affected.
Lithium ion batteries used in notebook PCs are the latest product being talked about. While demand is not that high at the moment, due to consumers buying fewer PCs at this time of year, if the crisis in Japan persists, supplies could run low. Taiwan's Digitimes observes that a significant proportion of the world's production of lithium ion batteries is not only located in Japan but from within the areas affected by the quake and within the evacuation radius of the Fukashima nuclear plant.
Both Sony and Hitachi operate plants within the disaster area and neither are operating currently according to a report from Pranab Kumar Sarmah at Daiwa Securities in Hong Kong. There are numerous other companies as well that are affected.
The production of Apple's new iPad2 could also be affected. Wayne Lam, an analyst at iSuppli believes that while the markings on the battery pack of an iPad2 read "assembled in China", the cells themselves come from Japan. "Typically, battery cells are made at the site of assembly, but since this li-ion polymer battery is unusually thin, it may be the case that it requires battery cell manufacturing technologies that Japan has."
It is not just the battery market though; the manufacture of LCD displays has also been hit. Power shortages and rolling blackouts are not conducive with manufacturing LCD's . It is Sony and Hitachi who have again been hit. The two companies between them produce 90% of the world's supply of Anisotropic Conductive Film that is widely used in LCD panels.
Colour polarisers, made by Fuji Film, another key part in LCD displays are also seeing a decline in supply. Dale Ford from iSuppli said this week that the impact on supply will drive prices up which in turn will reflect on the final price consumers pay for their TVs and monitors.
For as long as Japan's power grid remains uncertain, the technology industry will feel the effects.