Japan crisis reverberates at NAB

The monumental disaster continuing to plague Japan was felt throughout the NAB convention, as many companies, most with Japanese roots, said that while manufacturing had been stabilized in factories that had escaped initial earthquake and tsunami, many component suppliers had been negatively affected. This in turn, could cause a delay in product shipments later this year.

“On behalf of Sony, I want to thank all of you and our valued customers for generously reaching out with offers of help and donations to Japan relief organizations,” said Alec Shapiro, before delivering his opening remarks during the Sony press conference. “I’m happy to say that Sony employees escaped the tragedy without any personal harm and that our facilities are being restored.”

He said that Sony’s storage media factory in Sendai (in northern Japan) was affected and that production of the company’s HDCAM SR videotape is targeted to resume in early summer. In the mean time, Sony will work with its customers to mange their inventory needs “and will provide any necessary assistance to keep their companies operation as close to normal as possible.”

John Baisley, Panasonic’s executive vice president of media and products services, also addressed the issue at the top of his industry remarks during its press conference.

“We have received many questions about Panasonic’s personnel and infrastructure, and your outpouring of compassion has been heartwarming,” he said. “Although our factories came away from the disaster relatively unscathed, we are having issues with component suppliers, which were located in the affected area of Japan.”

Panasonic is working on the “model by model” impact, he said, “but suffice it to say that we will experience product availability issues in the short term.”

He added that shipments of the company’s solid-state P2 cards and other tape media will be unaffected.

Like many executives at other vendors, Dave Perillo, senior vice president of global operations for Grass Valley, echoed the concern about product shipments, due to anticipated short supplies of FPGAs and [Fujinon] lenses used in the company’s cameras and other products. Some said they had enough existing supplies to weather the component shipment delays.

“Grass Valley operates an R&D facility in southern Japan [Kobe], which was unaffected and thus, component shipments will be delayed from four to six weeks,” he said. “However, things are slowly improving, so that lag time could be shortened in the coming moths. We’re feeling positive that we have enough stock to get us through the second quarter.”

In various discussions around the show floor it was evident that everyone shares concern for those personally affected and said they were willing to do whatever they could to help.

At the show a business card and red “for Japan” button was circulated by a group calling itself HOPE. The group said it is a “restoration activity run by a team of Japanese media-related people, which aims to share the information of this situation and gain understanding from the world.” You can learn more at http://www.facebook.com/HOPEforJPN/.