The allocation of Murata’s primary production hubs and production capacity is as follows: 56% in Japan, 36% in China, 3% in Singapore, and 5% in the Philippines, according to TrendForce’s investigations. Recently, a cluster of employees at Murata’s Fukui Takefu Plant tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Since production diversion management had been strengthened and anti-pandemic measures implemented in advance, only some categories of production capacity have been reduced or suspended and this incident has not halted production for the entire factory. According to TrendForce, the Fukui Takefu Plant accounts for 20.7% of the company’s production capacity, mainly producing high-end consumer MLCCs. The current production reduction or suspension of some items will affect the supply of products such as servers and high-end smartphones. Fortunately, Fukui Takefu still retains 4~ 6 weeks of inventory and this incident should not tighten market supply in the short term.
Decentralized production hubs and off-site backups are major issues for MLCC suppliers after the pandemic
In addition, according to data released by the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China on January 17, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases as of January 16 reached 163, including 80 in Tianjin and 9 in Guangdong, distributed among the production center of suppliers such as SEMCO, TAIYO, WALSIN, FENGHUA, and VIIYONG. The current situation will once again test the operation and risk management of MLCC suppliers as they disperse production hubs and back each other in terms of production capacity. These plans have become an important 2-3 year strategy for MLCC suppliers.
It is worth noting that the recent pandemic outbreak in Tianjin, China is intensifying. Samsung, which is located in the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, is currently operating normally. However, as the Winter Olympics opening ceremony draws near, China has stepped up its zero-COVID policy. In order to avoid a situation in which employees are unable to return to the factory due to a positive COVID test in the area where they reside, some production line employees have been temporarily living in the factory. Korean executives are also living in the factory to enhance response times to rapidly developing circumstances. In addition, the Philippines, one of the major production centers of MLCC in Southeast Asia, has also experienced a sharp increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases since January this year. Murata and Samsung, who currently have factories in the region, have not reported the impact of the local pandemic and TrendForce will continue to monitor these two industry players moving forward.