Sony hit by supply chain nightmare

City A.M. Reporter
A shortage of parts will force Sony to cut production or suspend output at five more plants in Japan following the country's catastrophic earthquake this month that has hit the global supply chain.

Global electronics and autos seem to have been most affected by the turmoil, but in an illustration of how the ripples are spreading, global miner Rio Tinto warned the disruptions posed a threat to its expansion plans.

More than 10 days after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and 10-metre tsunami struck the northeast of Japan, manufacturers are struggling to get back up to speed as factories grapple with a lack of components, power cuts and damage to infrastructure.

Such is Japan's position in the global supply chain that companies from Apple Inc to General Motors Co and Nokia are feeling the impact.

Toyota, the world's largest automaker, said all 12 Japanese assembly plants would remain closed until at least March 26 and it was not sure when they would reopen. Production lost between March 14-26 would be about 140,000 units.

Toyota had been expecting to resume assembly today (Tuesday).

Electronics giant Sony said more five plants, mostly in central and southern Japan, were hit by parts shortages stemming from the disaster and would close or reduce output until the end of the month.

"If the shortage of parts and materials supplied to these plants continues, we will consider necessary measures, including a temporary shift of production overseas," the company that makes the Playstation games console said in a statement.

The plants make such products as digital and video cameras, televisions and microphones, the company said in a statement.

A sixth plant in Chiba, north of Tokyo, was set to resume production, but it could be interrupted by the blackouts that are affecting some areas supplied by Tokyo Electric Power , the operator of the stricken nuclear plant.

Including two factories only partially restarted last week, 15 Sony plants out of a total of 25 in Japan are currently affected. It has a total of 54 plants worldwide.