Operations at the Sony Semiconductor factory in Kumamoto, which were damaged by the earthquake on April 14, 2016 and subsequent after-shocks, are expected to restart soon.
The announcement from Sony is welcomed by camera manufacturers since the Kumamoto Technology Centre (located in Kikuchi Gun, Kumamoto Prefecture) is the primary manufacturing site of image sensors for digital cameras. From May 9, testing operations, which are one of the back-end processes carried out on the upper layer of the building, have resumed. Other back-end processes, such as assembly, are also expected to restart sequentially beginning May 17, 2016.
Wafer processing operations located on the lower layer of the building are expected to restart sequentially beginning May 21, 2016. According to a company statement: Although there was a delay in the supply of components to Sony from certain third-party suppliers that also have manufacturing facilities in the Kumamoto region, inventory adjustments have been made and a timeframe for regaining supply levels is now in place, so no material impact is anticipated on Sony’s business operations.
With Sony’s main sensor plant being offline for the past month, there has been an impact upon camera manufacturers who use Sony’s sensor (among them Nikon, Olympus and Pentax), leading to delays in the release dates of new products and shipping of products that were back-ordered. With the plant returning to normal production, these delays can be addressed. Sony is scheduled to announce on May 24, 2016 its consolidated results forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, as well as its forecasts for the Mobile Communications, Game & Network Services, Imaging Products & Solutions, Home Entertainment & Sound and Devices segments for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017.