Japan disaster: Supply shortages 'in three months'

Details are emerging of manufacturers facing disruption to their supply chain due to the earthquake in Japan.

Apple may have problems sourcing parts for its new iPad 2, analysts' research suggests.

Sony Ericsson has said that it would face similar problems with its mobile phones.

But supply shortages are likely to hit hard only in about three months, according Malcolm Penn, chief executive of research firm Future Horizons.

"This will start to bite home in a few weeks' time when the first shortages start to appear, and hit hard even further in about three months' time when the production that isn't being made today should have been coming online," he told the BBC.

Batteries and LCDs

Among the iPad parts threatened are its flash memory - used for audio and video storage - and its super-thin battery, which is produced exclusively by Apple Japan, according to a report by IHS iSuppli.

"Logistical disruptions may mean that Apple could have difficulties obtaining this battery, and it may not be able to secure supply from an external, non-Japanese source," said the research group.

Affected iPad components may also include an in-built compass, DRAM memory and the glass overlaying the its touchscreen.

Apple has not commented on the report.

Other computer-makers may be hit by shortages of laptop batteries after Sony shut down five of its six factories in Japan.

Liquid crystal displays used in mobile phones and satellite navigation may also be in short supply.

Toshiba has shut one of its two LCD plants to recalibrate sensitive equipment knocked out of kilter by the earthquake, as has Hitachi with its Tokyo factory because of damage and power cuts.

"In the short term, there won't be much impact," said chief executive Yang Yuanqing of Lenovo. "We are more worried about the impact in the next quarter."

The Chinese computer maker was not the only tech firm to indicate likely problems ahead.

"Although the full impact of the current situation on our business will take additional time to assess, Sony Ericsson anticipates disruption to its supply chain operations," said the Swedish-Japanese joint venture in a statement.


Image caption Apple's iPad 2 may be hit by shortages of key components, research suggests

Meanwhile, the car industry also faces problems.

General Motors shut production at a truck plant in the US state of Louisiana on Thursday because of shortages, although research suggests the impact on carmakers may be limited.

The US firm is the only carmaker outside Japan to have halted production so far, but said it had enough completed vehicles to meet two months of supply.

Further problems are likely to emerge in the industry, according to research by Nomura.

Nissan is likely to be hardest hit, said the Japanese investment bank, as a factory it owns in the earthquake zone supplies 12% of its engines.

Problems at the company are likely to spill over to Renault, because of the close business relationship between the two.

Honda extended the suspension of operations at two of its car plants and one motorcycle factory for a further three days to 23 March.

However, Nomura said that the sharp sell-off in many car stocks earlier in the week had been "overdone".

Although BMW, Daimler Peugeot, Fiat and Volkswagen were all identified as being affected, Nomura expected the impact on earnings to be as little as 3%.

Meanwhile, Boeing's Dreamliner is likely to be hit by yet more delays.

Jamco, which puts together the plane's galleys in north-west Japan before shipping them out via Yokohama, said that while production facilities were sound, deliveries would be disrupted by fuel shortages.

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