Earthquake impacts Japanese equipment production

By Chris Sleight15 March 2011

Last week's massive earthquake off the east coast of Japan's Honshu Island has caused damage to some of the country's construction equipment factories. Both Komatsu and Hitachi have seen production disrupted, and there are also concerns that damage to Honshu's eastern ports will hamper exports.

Hitachi has five factories in Ibaraki Prefecture, to the north of Tokyo, which were damaged in the quake. The company says it is still assessing the damage, and is also concerned about the availability of electrical power and damage to other utilities.

The factories affected include Hitachi's largest, the 490000 m2 Tsuchiura Works, which manufacturers small and medium sized excavators and hydraulic components. The plant also houses Hitachi's main research & development facilities.

Also damaged was the company's Hitachinaka Works and Hitachinaka Rinko works, which is located at the damaged pot of Hitachinaka. Between them they manufacture Hitachi's mining excavators and dump trucks. The Hitachinaka works also manufactures wheeled loaders and crawler cranes. Also affected was the company's Ryugasaki Works, which manufactures wheeled loaders.

Hitachi's Kasumigaura Works, which makes components, was also damaged. The Hitachinaka and Tsuchiura works also manufacture components for use by Hitachi's factories around the world.

Komatsu meanwhile has also seen damage to its heavy equipment plant in Ibaraki prefecture, as well as some of its facilities in Oyama, Tochigi Prefecture, an inland eastern region. The Oyama plant manufactures diesel engines and associated parts.

Komatsu added that there had not been any damage to its Kooriyama Plant in Fukushima, which makes hydraulic components, or to the Komatsu Utility factory in Oyama, which builds forklifts and small wheeled loaders.

The company said that some manufacturing would resume at the damaged plants early this week, but was uncertain as to when they would be back to full production levels. It also added that there had been serious damage to the port of Hitachinaka, and that this could have an impact on shipments even after its factories were running again as normal.

Access equipment manufacturer Aichi has reported minor damage to some of its buildings and added that none of its staff had been injured. It added however that it was concerned about the well-being of some of its suppliers.

Kubota has a number of factories in the region affected by the earthquake, but has not made any comment about damage to its faciliities or any impact on its production levels.

Japan's other major manufacturers have not made any statements about any damage to their facilities, but many of these are located away from the area affected by the earthquake. Kobelco's factories are located in southwest Honshu, while Tadano's are located on Shikoku, one of the two islands in the Japanese archipelago to the south of Honshu. Takeuchi's factory is in Nagano, in Western Honshu.

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