The country is home to quite a few of the biggest names in the imaging industry, and over the weekend, several Japanese companies have released statements regarding the situation at their own facilities. Four companies -- Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, and Olympus -- have so far reported injuries to staff, and in addition, numerous companies have had to temporarily halt production or close facilities. We've done our best to round up information on the situation for Imaging Resource readers, but before you read on, we'd urge you to consider visiting the Google Crisis Response page, where you can make a donation towards the relief effort. Alternatively, the folks at Demystifying Digital have compiled an excellent list of reputable organizations to which you can make a donation. (These link will all open in a new window, so you can easily return to this item afterwards.)
Canon Inc. has advised that 15 employees were injured at its Utsunomiya facility, which is said to have sustained significant damage. The Canon divisions at this location are responsible for production, research and development of a range of optical products, including EF lenses, as well as lenses for camcorders, broadcast cameras, business machines, LCD projectors, and other specialized lenses, plus mirror projection aligners and semiconductor equipment. Operations at this facility have been suspended, and the company notes that "time will likely be needed" before operations can resume in Utsunomiya .
In addition, the facility of a subsidiary company -- Fukushima Canon Inc. -- has also suffered significant damage. Thankfully there are no reported injuries at the facility, which produces inkjet printers, print heads, and ink tanks, but this facility is also expected to take some time to return to operation. Several other facilities were also closed today, and their operational status going forwards is still being determined. These include the Toride plant (office imaging products, etc.), and the Ami plant (LC and semiconductor exposure equipment), plus four other subsidiaries -- Canon Precision Inc. (micro motors, miscellaneous sensors, toner cartridges), Canon Optron Inc. (optical crystals, evaporation materials), Canon Chemicals Inc.'s Iwama Plant (toner cartridges), and Canon Mold Co. Ltd. (plastic molding). No injuries were reported at any of these facilities.
Separately, Canon has announced the establishment of an Earthquake Disaster Recovery Task Force, which is looking into measures to resume operations, including potentially shifting production to alternate locations, where it determines that a facility's operations may need to be suspended for over a month. Canon has also pledged 300 million yen (approximately US$3.7 million) to the Japanese Red Cross and other organizations, as well as offering to provide supplies as needed.
Hoya Corp. has made a statement noting that several employees sustained slight injuries, although thankfully no reports of serious injury or missing staff. The Miyagi factory of Pentax Life Care, which manufactures endoscopes, is said to have sustained slight damage, and has temporarily suspended operations due to power outages and traffic issues. Pentax Life Care's Yamagata factory has already resumed operations, meanwhile. Some 30 locations of Hoya's Eye City retail contact lens chain have had to suspend business, and a few locations are said to have sustained heavy damage which may require a period of months to rectify. Hoya's Vision Care division, which produces eye glasses, has also sustained damage to its Tohoku sales office, and is currently closed.
While it notes that some other production facilities have suspended operation due to rolling power outages, the release makes no specific mention of Pentax Imaging Systems. This, coupled with an earlier statement from that division on its Japanese-language website, can hopefully be taken to mean that it has escaped with minimal impact. The earlier statement from Pentax Imaging Co. noted that due to rolling power blackouts, the company had decided to close operations of the Pentax Customer Service Center, Tokyo Service Center, Pentax Forum Shinjuku, Pentax Family Magazine, and the Pentax Online Shop on March 14th.
Nikon Corp. has reported that some of its staff have been injured, and notes that it is continuing to gather information on the situation. The company has established an Emergency Headquarters for Disaster Control headed by its President. The company has reported damage to a number of facilities, which have had to suspend operations. Among these, a facility of particular note to our readership is Sendai Nikon Corp. in Natori, which produces DSLRs including the D3X, D3S, and D700. Other facilities listed as having sustained damage include Miyagi Nikon Precision Co., Ltd (Zao-machi; devices for LCD steppers and scanners), Tochigi Nikon Corporation (Otawara; optical lenses, opto-mechanical equipment, electronic imaging devices), Tochigi Nikon Precision Co. Ltd. (Otawara; devices for IC steppers & scanners, lenses for IC / LCD steppers and scanners). Nikon notes that it is evaluating how the facility damage and rolling blackouts will affect its business.
Separately, Nikon has pledged 100 million yen (approximately US$1.2 million) to the Japanese Red Cross.
A press release from Olympus Corp. confirms that several employees sustained minor injuries, but doesn't elaborate on this. We understand from information provided to the UK's Amateur Photographer magazine by the local Olympus office that the company's digital camera production is unaffected, and indeed the Japanese-language press release makes no mention of imaging products. It also confirms that the local sales office in Sendai is undamaged and preparing to resume operations, although several endoscopy-related businesses -- Aomori Olympus Co. Ltd., Shirakawa Olympus Co. Ltd., and the company's Shirakawa factory -- have had to temporarily halt operations. Aomori Olympus is said to be unable to procure supplies, while we understand the other two companies have some damage to facilities, as well as a lack of power supply. A separate Japanese-language press release notes that a repair facility at the Shirakawa location is expected to take 2-4 weeks to resume operations.
In addition, Olympus has pledged 100 million yen (approximately US$1.2 million) and is planning to further donate industrial videoscopes and non-destructive testing equipment to the recovery effort. These tools can be of great assistance in locating survivors, and in determining the safety of buildings and infrastructure.
Panasonic Corp., meanwhile, has issued an advisory stating that some employees received minor injuries at the Fukushima and Sendai factories of Panasonic AVC Networks Co., which manufacture digital cameras and optical pickups respectively, as well as at the Koriyama factory of Panasonic Electric Works Co. Ltd. (electronic materials), and the Gunma factory of Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. (washers / dryers). The company goes on to note that it has not received reports of collapse or fire at any of its facilities, and that it is temporarily suspending operations at the quake-affected factories pending a fuller evaluation of the damage.
A further release from Panasonic pledges 300 million yen (approximately US$3.7 million) in donations, as well as providing 10,000 radios, 10,000 flashlights, and 500,000 dry batteries to assist victims of the earthquake.
Casio Computer Co. Ltd., meanwhile, has issued a press release stating that the company's staff received no serious injuries, and that its facilities are not believed to have sustained major damage. It is currently working to confirm facility, materials and infrastructure status, and to assure safety before resuming operation, and notes that it expects interruptions to vital utilities will play a role in determining when it can resume operations. A separate press release notes that the company has pledged 10 million yen (approximately U$120,000) in donations to the Japan Platform nonprofit relief organization, and will further match donations made by its employees.
While Fujifilm Corp. states that it has thankfully not received any reports of staff injuries, a press release issued today by Fujifilm UK Ltd. confirms that the parent company's Taiwa-Cho factory, which was responsible for production of the fixed-lens, APS-C sensor shod X100 digital camera, has sustained damage. This will apparently necessitate a temporary halt in production of the Fuji X100, but the company states that the rest of its digital camera range are unaffected. In addition, the company's head-office has issued a Japanese-language press release noting that the Japanese market's service and support facilities have sustained damage, which has required a temporary relocation of these functions to other facilities. Fujifilm has also pledged 300 million yen (approximately US$3.7 million) in donations, as well as 470 million yen (approximately US$5.8 million) in relief supplies, including diagnostic ultrasound systems and dust / virus protection masks.
Being headquartered in Wakayama, in the south of Japan, Noritsu Koki Ltd. and its recently-established subsidiary NK Works Co. Ltd. have suffered no injuries or damage to facilities, according to a statement published by PMA Newsline. The company is continuing with production and distribution, and further notes that it is working to reestablish contact with and offer support to its customers throughout the country.
Ricoh Co. Ltd., meanwhile, has issued an English-language statement following on from its earlier Japanese-language release, and still reports no injuries at its facilities. Based on the most current information, five facilities have stopped operations, and four have no set plan as to when they'll be able to return to operations. We understand that these include Ricoh Optical Industries Co. Ltd. in Hanamaki (optical products, projectors, welding machines, etc.), Hasama Ricoh Inc. in Tome (copiers and data processing equipment), Tohoku Ricoh Co. Ltd. in Shibata-gun (MFPs, printers, toner, bar code devices, peripherals), and Ricoh Printing Systems Ltd. in Hitachinaka (production printing products). Ricoh Unitechno Co. Ltd. in Yashio (high capacity MFPs, refurbishing recycling) is currently not operating, but will resume operation on Thursday as rolling blackouts allow. Ricoh plants in Atsugi (MFPs, printer parts), Gotemba (MFPs, printers), and Numazu (supplies, toner, etc.) are all in partial operation, and will continue to operate as allowed by rolling blackouts. Ricoh has pledged 300 million yen (approximately US$3.7 million) in donations towards recovery efforts.
SanDisk Corp. reports that two of its fabs located some 500 miles from the epicenter of the quake were down for a brief period on Friday, but returned to operation later the same day. The company has received no reports of employee injuries, and predicts minimal immediate impact on output.
Seiko Epson Corp., says that it hasn't yet received any reports of casualties, although some of its facilities were damaged. Hachinohe-based Epson Atmix Corp., which provides metal powders, metal injection molded parts and synthetic quartz crystal, is said to have been subject to a one meter tsunami, while the Fukushima plant of Epson Toyocom Corp. (optical devices, sensing devices, clock modules, oscillators, resonators, and filters) was partially damaged, and is also under an evacuation order, since it is within 20 kilometers of the failing Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. There is currently no schedule for either facility to resume operations. Akita Epson Corp., which manufactures printer heads and crystal devices, received minimal damage and began resuming operations on Monday, with quartz crystal production expected to resume on Wednesday. Finally, the Sakata plant (semiconductor manufacture) of Seiko Epson Corp. and Tohoku Epson Corp. (printer component manufacture) are believed to be undamaged, but have suspended operations due to rolling power cuts. The status of production facilities at these locations is still under investigation, and so there is no update on when production will resume.
Separately, the company has announced that it feels it necessary to cancel its Color Imaging Exhibition 2010 exhibition, which was scheduled to take place in Tokyo from March 19th to 21st. The event was intended to bring together artworks that were recipients of prizes in 2010 digital imaging contests held in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Taiwan, allowing them to be seen in a single venue. Instead, these artworks will now be shown on the Seiko Epson website. In addition, Epson has pledged 100 million yen (approximately US$1.2 million) to recovery efforts.
Sigma Corp. hasn't yet released any information on the status of its operations or employees, but it has posted a brief note on the Japanese and English-language versions of its global website, offering its condolences to those affected by the disaster.
Sony Corp. is another company that thankfully reports no significant injuries to its staff, although several of its sites have been affected by the disaster, and others have temporarily shuttered operations due to widespread power outages. The Sony Corporation Sendai Technology Center is said to have ceased operation due to earthquake damage, and while it is still reviewing the situation, the company says that other locations have only been moderately affected, with no reports of facility damage. Sony facilities that have suspended manufacturing operations, or suspended operations altogether, include Sony Chemical & Information Device Corp. (Tagajyo, Tome, and Kanuma plants; magnetic tapes, Blu-Ray discs, optical devices, IC c rds), Sony Shiroishi Semiconductor Inc. (Miyagi; semiconductor lasers), Sony Energy Devices Corp. (Koriyama, Motomiya, and Tochigi plants; lithium ion batteries), Sony Manufacturing Systems Corp. (Kuki plant; surface mounting equipment), Sony DADC Japan Inc. (Ibaraki; CDs / DVDs), and Sony Corp. Atsugi Technology Center (R&D).
Optics company Tamron Co. Ltd. has announced that its Japanese offices will be closed today and tomorrow. It further notes that it expects outages for its Japanese corporate website during periods of rolling blackouts, and indeed, the website is offline at the time of this writing.
In addition, companies in many other business areas have been affected. These companies manufacture a wide range of components and chips used in digital imaging products which, while rather beyond the scope of our own site, are nonetheless critical to the products we use and review every day. These include household names such as Fujitsu, Hitachi, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba, as well as many lesser-known -- but none the less important -- companies besides. For example, Toshiba is the world's second largest supplier of NAND flash chips used in memory cards, as well as producing CMOS image sensors. Fujitsu likewise supplies a variety of components that feature in digital cameras and the like, including some -- such as its Milbeaut image processor series -- which are specifically designed for use in digital imaging products. Although we don't have the resources to report on these companies, we're sure many readers will want to be aware of their status, and the folks at EE|Times have assembled a pretty thorough analysis in this area.
The staff at the Imaging Resource are deeply shocked and saddened by the scope of this disaster, and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan, as well as those in other countries affected by the tsunami, which caused damage as far as away as Peru and Chile. We'd encourage readers who'd like to contribute to the relief effort to visit the Google Crisis Response page, or alternatively, Demystifying Digital's list of reputable organizations, either of which would be a great way to make a donation and help the people and businesses of Japan to get back on their feet.