Chipmaker Renesas Halts Ibaraki Plant Operations on Quake Checks

Japan’s Renesas Electronics Corp. said it halted operations at its Ibaraki factory to inspect the building’s clean rooms after a magnitude-7.3 earthquake late Saturday.

The chipmaker has power and all utility equipment is functioning, but it decided to cancel Sunday’s production for detailed inspections of the clean rooms as a precaution, the company’s spokeswoman said. It remains unclear when operations would resume.

The Ibaraki factory was forced to shut down for three months after the 2011 earthquake, which destroyed the building. The Renesas spokeswoman said the building looked fine, but she declined to comment on the resumption as employees have only just started inspecting the clean rooms.

There is a worldwide shortage of semiconductors amid booming demand for electronics, and some auto-plant lines have been brought to a standstill as a result. Virus-related supply bottlenecks have compounded the problem, leaving chipmakers pouring billions of dollars into new plants to address the squeeze, but buyers expect it to get worse before it gets better.

The impact of Renesas’ halt on the current chip shortage isn’t yet known. A Renesas factory in Kumamoto came back within days after a quake in 2016, and caught up on production delays.

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