Western Digital restarts Thai hard drive plant

Hard drive maker Western Digital has reopened one of its Thailand manufacturing facilities, but warns that shortages could continue well past March 2012 as a result of the recent flooding.

The facility, located in the Bang Pa-in industrial estate in Bangkok, had previously been under six feet of water following major flooding in the country that has had a serious impact on the high-tech manufacturing industry responsible for much of the nation's income.

Following its submersion on the 15th October, WD was able to pump the Bang Pa-in facility clear on the 17th November in order for repairs to be made and power restored on the 26th November. All submerged slider manufacturing equipment has been removed, the company adds, for decontamination and refurbishment with head slider production to resume at the plant in March 2012 alongside the opening of a new slider fab in Penang, Malaysia.

"The passion, perseverance, ingenuity and execution exhibited by the WD team has been extraordinary and enabled us to make substantial progress in partially restoring our operations in Thailand, well in advance of our earliest expectations when the floods hit," explains John Coyne, president and chief executive officer of WD. "Much work remains to be done but we couldn't be more pleased with the effort and results thus far, including tremendous support from our supply partners and strategic customers."

The storage industry isn't out of the water yet, if you'll excuse the phrase: WD's second Thai plant, in Navanakorn, remains under two feet of water, and the company has warned that "significant industry supply constraints" will continue well into the March quarter and possibly beyond.