Friday, December 23, 2011

Another explosion reported in a Chinese Manufacturer that supplies Apple

For the third time in little over a year an explosion has rocked a factory that supplies parts in the manufacturing of various Apple devices. The explosion injured 61, and sent 23 to the hospital. Fortunately, there were no fatalities. 

This particular plant (which supplies back panels needed in the manufacturing of IPads), according to Pegatron Chief Financial Officer Charles Lin, “…had not started operations yet. Part of the facility is still under pre-operation inspection and part is running trial production.” 1 
Chinese suppliers are under tremendous pressure from Apple to increase supply to keep up with worldwide demand for IPhones and IPads. Manufacturing the aluminum shells is, admittedly, not without risk. The shells need to be polished and the powder used in this process is potentially explosive - requiring a factory environment with adequate ventilation. Still, providing such an environment is not rocket science.

It is not hard to see that under pressure to increase production companies are cutting corners. In this case, a plant which has not yet “started operations” has already experienced an explosion injuring 61 people.

Who is responsible for this (preventable) disaster? Is it the company which rushed, recklessly, into trial production a facility not yet ready for prime-time, the Chinese government with its lax supervision of various regulations (or perhaps no regulations at all), or is it Apple computer corporation which turns a blind eye to the practices of its suppliers so that they may sell a million or so more iPhones and IPads. Apple Corporation made $7.31 billion dollars in profits in their 3rd Qtr. 2011 financial year alone.

Perhaps there are others who deserve mention.  Please share your take on this tragedy.

Peter Schnall

1 “Apple supplier Pegatron hit by China plant blast” By Clare Jim and Argin Chang, Reuters. 

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