As of this week, Western Digital has reopened an important production factory in Bang Pa-in, Thailand according to an official statement from the company. Production facilities within Thailand makes up 60 percent of Western Digital products and the company employs approximately 37,000 workers in the country. The heavy flooding that occurred in mid-October devastated the region and companies such as Western Digital and Sony were forced to close plants due to several feet of water within each building. Due to the limited production output, prices of hard disks and other products rose considerably over the last six weeks. The most notable increase were 1TB hard drives that went up 180 percent.
According to Western Digital, the facility in Bang Pa-in, Thailand had been submerged in six feet of water since October 15. The water was removed from the facility on November 17 and subsequently decontaminated. Power was restored to the building on November 26 and production began on November 30 after the company removed all previously submerged slider manufacturing equipment. The facility manufacturers the slider that keeps the HDD’s head at a consistent flying height above the actual disk and expects full production to begin in the first quarter of 2012. Western Digital has a second hard drive facility in Navanakorn, Thailand that’s still under approximately two feet of water, but company officials plan to have the facility pumped dry by the end of next week and decontamination procedures will begin.
Besides a lower availability of Western Digital hard drives, Sony was forced to delay the global launch of the 24-megapixel mirrorless NEX-7 camera due to the flooding and production of the Alpha 65 dSLR camera was also decreased. Sony has three facilities in Thailand, but only two closed due to the flooding issues. The October flood is the worst flooding disaster within Thailand in the past 50 years and over 1,000 factories were closed due to the overwhelming flood water.