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Flooding Takes Major Hard Drive Plant Offline; Shortages Predicted 203

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the just-when-i-needed-new-drives dept.
snydeq writes "Flooding near Bangkok has taken about 25 percent of the world's hard disk manufacturing capacity offline, InfoWorld reports. 'Disk manufacturing sites in Thailand — notably including the largest Western Digital plant — were shut down due to floods around Bangkok last week and are expected to remain shut for at least several more days. The end to flooding is not in sight, and Western Digital now says it could take five to eight months to bring its plants back online.' Toshiba's Thailand plants have also been affected, as have key disk component suppliers, including Nidec and Hutchinson Technologies."
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Flooding Takes Major Hard Drive Plant Offline; Shortages Predicted

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  • by ThosLives (686517) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @02:03PM (#37752394) Journal

    you're SOL when the specialist is out of commission.

    It's sort of fascinating how, despite all our technology, we still suffer from such problems. It seems we may have crossed beyond the point where gained efficiency from specialization has more total cost than slightly less efficient, more flexible (less specialized) industries. In this case the "specialist" is geographical rather than talent, but I think the concept applies well enough.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      > It's sort of fascinating how, despite all our technology, we still suffer from such problems.

      I think it's inevitable. Commodity items are highly competitive and have razor thin margins. The manufacturing location tends to be the lowest cost location on earth, and the problem with very low cost locations is that there is sometimes a risk involved in doing business there.

      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        Are you saying that high cost locations don't suffer from environmental problems?

        • I live in the middle of the Canadian shield. About the only natural disaster we see is the occasional small tornado. No floods, no earthquakes, no hurricanes. Nothing large-scale.

          • by Coren22 (1625475)

            Snow?

            2 inches of snow shuts down my town, and we get that much frequently through the winter.

            • by Yvan256 (722131)

              If two inches of snow can shut down your town, you're not living in Canada.

              • by afidel (530433)
                Exactly, or anywhere in the US midwest either. 2 feet of snow might shut down the city for a day depending on when it comes relative to rush hour.
              • by mmontour (2208)

                If two inches of snow can shut down your town, you're not living in Canada.

                Technically, Vancouver and Victoria are still part of Canada.

            • by Bucky24 (1943328)
              Two INCHES? Are you kidding me? Invest in some snowplows.... We got 6 FEET once where I grew up (and this is in CA too). The only difference was the snowplows went out a couple of times a day rather than one).
        • by roc97007 (608802)

          Nope, I'm saying that there are reasons why low cost locations are low cost. It's a tendency, not all-or-nothing.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @02:05PM (#37752424)

    Giant planning failure!

    I can't wait to hear who decided to put the largest HD assembly operation in a flood plain where Asian Monsoons routinely flood out large areas every year.

    It is not like this is unexpected.

    Restart the plant and...it happens next year or the year thereafter.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately these kinds of plants consume massive amounts of water so they need to be in areas where these things happen.
      If its not floods its tornados, earthquakes, volcanos or wars.

      Nowhere is safe so most businesses just go with where is cheap.

      Dont worry, insurance will cover some of the losses, massive price increases until long after supply has resumed will ensure
      the shareholders dont suffer.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      This year has been the worst in half a century, if you're planning for events that infrequent you're going to have a challenge finding anywhere to build your production facilities.

      • by Tomato42 (2416694)
        Because whole Europe (including Iceland) suffers from Monsoons and Tornadoes every year. Not to mention the monthly magnitude 9.0 earthquake... We so get used to catastrophes, that we missed the last week's Extinction Event meteorite that fell just outside Berlin, thankfully it landed on a parked 5 star NCAP car so everything played quite well.
      • by dschl (57168)

        In many places, you cannot legally build on floodplain.

        In North America, 50 years is pretty short for design standards. Bridges will normally be built for flood events in excess of 100 years. Laws where I live restrict construction inside a 200 year floodplain.

        • by Kittenman (971447)

          In many places, you cannot legally build on floodplain.

          I think you can if you're prepared to pay the penalty. They're dark green on the map. And volcanoes are those little triangles.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Giant planning failure!

      I can't wait to hear who decided to put the largest HD assembly operation in a flood plain where Asian Monsoons routinely flood out large areas every year.

      It is not like this is unexpected.

      Restart the plant and...it happens next year or the year thereafter.

      Actually its not a flood plain. The river system the Chao Phraya river [wikipedia.org] is connected to runs from Laos and Myanmar to the gulf south of Bangkok and this is the worst rain Thailand has seen in decades, over 300 Thais have been killed in the floods which started in July (it's not October).

      It's like blaming the city planners that New Orleans was not hurricane proof.

      Put simply, this does not happen once a year.

      • by optimism (2183618)

        It's like blaming the city planners that New Orleans was not hurricane proof.

        I hate to tell you...but actually...the New Orleans city planners were to blame.

        For roughly the first 200 years of its existence, New Orleans was built on the high ground. Then in the 20th century, they started pumping out the swamps to create large amounts of "real estate" below sea level.

        I know...the Dutch have done this very successfully...but the Dutch did not try to reclaim swamps on the delta of a massive river that is constantly trying to find a new path.

        For more than 50 years, anyone with half a clu

  • Need more be said. Hard drives are so last year.

  • I tole 'em they shudna moved them faktrees outa tornader alley.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I tole 'em they shudna moved them faktrees outa tornader alley.

      We have some lovely land available, on top of the Hayward Fault. It usually just creeps along, so if they build the factory on wheels it would be OK %)

      • by Tsingi (870990)

        We have some lovely land available, on top of the Hayward Fault. It usually just creeps along, so if they build the factory on wheels it would be OK %)

        Isn't that where they put the nuclear reactors?

  • by Medievalist (16032) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @02:08PM (#37752478)

    Good thing global climate change is just a liberal hoax, or we'd be in real trouble!

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Good thing global climate change is just a liberal hoax, or we'd be in real trouble!

      But not so long ago we had to be scared of the Global Climate Warming Change Monster because it was going to cause droughts, not floods. It only changed to causing floods after floods started hitting the news.

      • by pjabardo (977600)
        It is not possible to determine if an individual flood is the result of global warming or not. Floods have always happened and will continue to happen. But global warming tends to produce more floods *and* more droughts, often in different regions but sometimes in the same place. This is has been know for a while and nothing has changed after "floods started hitting the news".
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by elrous0 (869638) *

          But global warming tends to produce more floods *and* more droughts

          I love that reasoning. It essentially makes global warming impossible to disprove or challenge. There is no evidence that can be used to argue against it. Have a drought? That's global warming. Have a flood? That's global warming. Have a heat wave? Global warming. Have a blizzard? Global warming. Have normal weather? Well, global warming only effects things in the LONG TERM, see...

          There is no trend or pattern sufficient to disprove, or even challenge it. That sounds more like a religion than science to me.

          • Of course you could disprove it. It just takes more than one example to do it. We've been collecting data that suggests global warming for 150 years, if you want to disprove global warming you'd need to gather a similarly sized collection of data that did not agree with the theory.

          • by Chirs (87576)

            I love that reasoning. It essentially makes global warming impossible to disprove or challenge. There is no evidence that can be used to argue against it.

            Not so. It's fairly straightforward to look for more "extreme" weather--you simply compare the actual weather against the "average". If the differences increase over time, there's your effect.

            • by tompaulco (629533)
              It's fairly straightforward to look for more "extreme" weather--you simply compare the actual weather against the "average".
              Even the USGS cautions that we are experiencing more or less the same number and severity of geological events. However, the number of reporting stations and the spread of people to other areas make it more likely that an event will affect people and thus be noted or reported upon.
          • by pjabardo (977600)
            Climate and weather are not the same thing. A flood, or storm does not characterize the climate. You can come up with some parameter that correlates with climate, mean annual temperature of the planet for instance. This is a number that doesn't say anything about floods, droughts, snowstorms during the year. Not only that, we can not measure this number exactly, we can only estimate it.

            Now, is this number relevant? Not for local weather. Not even for a few years. It can go down or up whether there is glo
          • by LetterRip (30937)

            I love that reasoning. It essentially makes global warming impossible to disprove or challenge. There is no evidence that can be used to argue against it. Have a drought? That's global warming. Have a flood? That's global warming. Have a heat wave? Global warming. Have a blizzard? Global warming. Have normal weather? Well, global warming only effects things in the LONG TERM, see...

            It increases intensity and frequency of both droughts and floods - it is divergence from 'moderate' climate that is what you are looking for.

            If you have a basic understanding of physics it should be obvious that increased warmth would cause more floods and droughts - increased total temperature causes faster evaporation both over land and ocean - for those areas where the clouds tend to not drift (and hence low rain fall historically) this will lead to more droughts; for areas of historical high rain fall -

          • by danlip (737336)

            Global warming is trivial to prove or disprove - you just measure the surface temperatures all over the world and average it, and we already have plenty of data to show the trend. Showing it is anthropomorphic is harder, but there is a lot of evidence.

            What you are talking about is whether or not dramatic weather events are related to global warming. That is much harder to prove/disprove, and almost anyone making such a claim is not being scientific. And over the long term it can be proven/disproven, but

        • by tompaulco (629533)
          global warming tends to produce more floods *and* more droughts, often in different regions but sometimes in the same place.
          Or FEWER floods and droughts, or about the same number of floods and droughts.
        • buildup areas change river flows and food walls just move the flood down the river.

      • I don't think anybody ever said climate change was going to stop water from evaporating at all. If one place that used to get a lot of rain isn't anymore, that means that the rain is going to be falling somewhere else, which can cause floods.

        Deniers seem to think that if the entire world doesn't suffer from the exact same disasters then that obviously means that scientists are either stupid or lying because they hate America or something.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          No I personally think that it is being used as an excuse to leech money and frankly it doesn't matter WHAT the climate data says because as far as those running the AGW show are concerned its cash in time baby yeah!

          For example Rev Al Gore, who has a house with an indoor basketball court and drives a fleet of SUVs is set to become a carbon billionaire [telegraph.co.uk], the ones who cooked up credit default swaps, aka economy killers? Yeah guess whose writing the rules for the carbon market [nakedcapitalism.com]? Those who are on the AGW bandwago

          • by Zironic (1112127)

            That's a really funny video.

            Summary:
            Cap and Trade is bad because of X, instead we should use a better solution which is.... Cap and Trade!

            It's a really weird way of saying that Cap and Trade is the only viable solution for pollution reduction, but the proposed implementation is corrupt and ineffective (since it neither caps, nor properly trades).

      • The great thing about calling it Global Climate Change is that it is anything the speaker wishes it to be. Any condition can be ascribed to it. Any weather phenomenon that makes the news can be included.

        It you make your terms generic enough there isn't much that escapes your grasp.

      • by LetterRip (30937)

        But not so long ago we had to be scared of the Global Climate Warming Change Monster because it was going to cause droughts, not floods. It only changed to causing floods after floods started hitting the news.

        Actually flooding and droughts have been expected from the beginning. There is greater total energy which results in greater evaporation both over land and over ocean. Thus those areas that recieve modest rain fall historically end up with higher rates of evaporation leading to more frequent droughts, and those areas that have high rain fall historically get more frequent and stronger rains leading to more flooding.

        The only ones who thought it was just droughts that would happen had little or no understan

    • Good thing cities built on a river delta never flood or we'd be in....oh...wait a minute.

    • Not to mention the record breaking droughts in Texas and the SW.

      The data does suggest a global warming trend, but some weather shifts are normal. Just because floods wiped out *your* house this year doesn't mean the world is ending and it's all Fox News fault. In this case, the Pacific has been cooler than normal, which changes the jet streams. Which pushes moisture in the air in different ways. It's happened before and will happen again.
      Just don't tell that to the dinosaurs.

  • Great. Another industry that can blame massive price increases on some sort of natural disaster or political instability, and conveniently leave prices there when the danger has passed.

    How long do you think it will take for prices to come back down once all of these plants are repaired or replaced? Will they ever come down? Southeast asian semi-conductor manufacturing is already rife with price-fixing and other grossly anti-competitive practices. Throw in this flooding which, albeit temporarily, provides
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Call me when you refuse a raise or bonus at work and tell your boss you'd rather work at your old salary. Prices are sticky, it's a fact of life. You are just as guilty as every other human on the planet.
    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      You really think HDD manufacturers can afford to raise and keep raised prices with SSD makers breathing down their necks? Yeah, I just don't see that happening. The only advantage HDD makers have now is the price/byte ratio is so low for them. They raise that, and they will die even faster than they are now.

      • by Dwedit (232252)

        When SSDs get to $80 for 2TB, let me know. They are nowhere near that price/byte ratio.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Did all manufacturers get hit by the flood? If not, lawsuits of price fixing might follow if they all start to increase prices for no reason.

      • by demonbug (309515) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @02:35PM (#37752848) Journal

        Did all manufacturers get hit by the flood? If not, lawsuits of price fixing might follow if they all start to increase prices for no reason.

        Lol. You do realize that a 25% reduction in output means the same demand must be met by fewer manufacturers, right? When demand remains constant and supply suddenly decreases, the natural market reaction is a price increase until demand decreases to match supply (or until supply recovers).

        Sure, the other manufacturers may be able to increase supply somewhat to counter this, but prices are bound to increase in the short term. Not due to price fixing, but due to normal market forces.

        • by fnj (64210)

          Yeah, that free market sure is working good, isn't it. In any other context that is labeled fucking opportunism and is an invitation to an ass-kicking.

      • But they can all increase prices in response to increased demand with no problem. As long as they don't all appear to do so in a coordinated way.

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        Raising prices because you can (ie there is more demand than supply) is not price fixing, no matter how many manufacturers do it. Price fixing generally happens when supply is greater than demand, and the 'competitors' agree not to compete, in order to keep the prices high. A flood wiping out 25% of production is not likely to lead to an oversupply situation, so put your conspiracy theories away.

  • ...is going to wish it had chosen a different name.

    (yes, I know that Seagate wasn't listed in TFS)

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