The disruption to manufacturers worldwide from Japan’s disasters will force a rethink of how they manage production
LAST year Iceland’s volcanic ash disrupted air transport across Europe and gave the world’s manufacturing supply chain one of its biggest tests since the advent of the low-inventory, just-in-time era. Now, Japan’s quadruple disaster—earthquake, tsunami, nuclear alert and power shortages—has put the supply chain under far greater stress. Three weeks after the massive quake, the extent and likely duration of the disruption are still unclear.
去年冰岛的火山灰扰乱了整个欧洲的航空运输，为世界制造供应链自低库存和及时成产时代以来提供一个最大的考验。 现在，日本的四个灾害——地震，海啸，核警报和电力短缺已使供应链处在更大的压力下。 在大地震发生三星期后，破坏的范围和可能的持续时间海不清楚。
There are some enlightening similarities between the shocks that manufacturers are now suffering and those that buffeted the banking system in the 2008 financial crisis. In both cases two of the biggest surprises were the unexpected connections the crisis uncovered, and the extent of the contagion. The problems began in a seemingly well-contained part of the system—subprime mortgages in the case of finance, in manufacturing’s case a natural disaster in an economic backwater—but quickly spread.
在制造厂家所遭遇的冲击和2008年金融危机中银行系统中连受打击的人之间是有一些受人启发的相似之处的。 在这两种情况下，最让人惊讶的是未保险的危机和污染范围的意想不到的联系。 这些问题始于系统中一个看似完全包含的部分—— 金融中的次级抵押贷款，在经济停滞中的制造商所经历的自然灾害，但很快蔓延开。
Like the sudden evaporation of liquidity that the banks experienced, factories are finding that parts that had always turned up reliably have stopped coming. As with financial regulators’ discovery of how poorly they understood the “shadow banking” system and arcane derivatives contracts, manufacturers are discovering how little they know about their suppliers’ suppliers and those even farther down the chain. When Lehman went bust, other banks struggled to measure their exposure because Lehman turned out to be not a single institution but a tangle of many entities. Assembly firms are now finding that their supply chain looks much the same.
银行资金如液体挥发般突然不见，工厂发现一只稳定到货的零部件竟然停止供应。 至于金融监管机构，他们发现他们对于“影子银行”系统和晦涩难懂的衍生品金融品合同的理解是如此肤浅，制造商们发现他们对供应商的供应商及下边的供应链知之甚少。 当雷曼破产，其他银行努力衡量他们的暴露出的问题，因为雷曼兄弟不是一个单独的机构，而是许多缠绕的实体。组装公司现在发现他们的供应链看起来是一样的。