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Renesas chip supply to recover faster than expected
by Staff Writers
Hitachinaka, Japan (AFP) June 10, 2011

Japan's Renesas Electronics, a key microprocessor maker, said Friday it would restore supply capacity to pre-March 11 earthquake levels by late September, a month earlier than planned.

"We think we are now a month ahead of our previous forecasts," Renesas CEO Yasushi Akao told reporters at the plant in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, which was damaged in a disaster that ravaged swathes of Japan's northeastern coast.

Renesas has a roughly 40 percent share in the global market for automobile engine and brake system microcontrollers. Production was hit due to damage to its key plant from the 9.0 magnitude quake and tsunami that left nearly 24,000 dead or missing nationwide.

The supply crunch sent shockwaves through a global auto industry that relies on its products, strangled auto production in Japan and enforced a slowdown overseas.

Such components are customized for each car model and different software systems used by companies, meaning that automakers cannot quickly switch suppliers.

In a show of unity and an illustration of the importance of the company's products to the auto industry, Japanese firms sent workers to the plant to help restore it following the disasters. It resumed some production on June 1.

"With the support of other companies, some 2,500 people worked here 24 hours a day, seven days a week to restore the facilities," said Akao.

An average car contains around 20,000 different components, and only one needs to be missing to stop production.

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