For lack of a chip

All of us are familiar with the story about how the war was lost because the nail on the horse’s shoe was lost, well the same sort of thing is happening with instrument manufacturers because of the tsunami earlier this year in Japan. All of us have heard about the impact the disaster in Japan has had on the automobile industry and the Japanese economy – though watch for inflation when the rebuilding gets underway; however what we do not consider is the impact of other smaller things on the full manufacturing chain.

This was reinforced to me while attending the IEC TC65 meetings in Korea this week while talking to a number of other delegates from the instrument and control manufacturing sector. When I asked them how things were going and if the recent incidents in Japan have affected their production the answer was yes – because there is one chip used in their devices that comes from a factory that was affected by the disaster. They are able to get limited quantities and keep some production going. The other option would be to design a new board with an alternate chip; the problem is that doing so will require obtaining all the necessary approvals again – another long, laborious and expensive process.

Here again is another example of how important all the small details and little things really are, so keep that in mind when working on your next project.

News on the IEC meeting in my next posting.