The problem occurred early Wednesday morning at a thermal-electric station in central Japan. It’s not clear what caused the disruption, but it led to a voltage drop that lasted 0.07 seconds. As a result, a Toshiba Corp. facility that makes NAND flash-memory chips was forced to shut down.
As a result, Toshiba said it expects its chip shipments to fall by as much as 20 per cent over the next two months. The incident spotlights the unforgiving nature of high-technology manufacturing, and the lack of slack built into supply chains for the most popular consumer electronic devices.
Any delay will be a blow to companies such as Apple Inc., which uses these chips in its iPhones and iPads. Toshiba is the world’s second-largest producer, behind Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., and it accounts for more than one-third of the market. Analysts said the company’s production problems could send chip prices up by 10 per cent because supplies are already tight.