March 24, 2011, 9:59 AM — High-tech companies in Japan are slowly starting to get some of their manufacturing plants up and running after a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hammered the country nearly two weeks ago.
Japan has been devastated by the series of disasters that hit the country starting on March 11. As the nation deals with massive loss of life, a nuclear crisis, damaged roads, buildings and communities washed away, as well as rolling electrical brown-outs and black-outs, its manufacturing and economy have also taken a major hit .
But, while companies in Japan still have to deal with damaged facilities, an overwhelmed workforce and a dramatic electrical shortage, there are positive signs that some computer chip companies are starting to right themselves.
"This is huge," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "The technology ecosystem is very complex and concerns started shifting from primary to secondary and tertiary venders very quickly when it was clear how bad the problem was."
"Much of the world's production, of everything from tech products to cars, has been impacted because almost every modern product has some tech in it and almost all tech has at least one part made in Japan," Enderle said.
He added that he thinks that, barring any more disasters, high-tech production there will be at about 80% in about a month and most problems should be fully resolved by the end of the year.
The crisis in Japan already has had an impact on the high-tech industry. Earlier this week, the research firm IHS iSuppli reported that the disaster was causing a shortage of 25% of worldwide production of silicon wafers , used to make computer chips.
"Because of this, the suspension of operations at these plants could have wide-ranging implications beyond the Japanese electronics industry," iSuppli noted in its report.
But work is beginning again.
The Japan-based hardware company Fujitsu, for example, has stopped production at three semiconductor manufacturing plants, but it has partially resumed operation at four other damaged facilities, including a PC manufacturing plant, a semiconductor fab and a semiconductor testing facility.
The company also has two facilities, including a mobile phone manufacturing plant, in full operation.