Tracking the effect of the earthquake and tsunami in printer shipments

Ralf Schlozer
Oct 5, 2011

On March 11, 2011, a major earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan. Several factories of equipment suppliers and manufacturers of sub-components were struck, with more being affected by subsequent power outages. It was expected that this would impact shipments of digital printing equipment as many digital printing devices and parts used in these devices are manufactured in Japan.

Apart from anecdotal evidence getting hard facts on the impact is difficult. Due to the time it takes to ship the equipment overseas, no impact in Q1 was expected, but Q2 placements would have been affected by any supply chain interruptions. The InfoTrends quarterly tracking program looks at quarterly installations of digital production printing equipment, including A3-capable color MFPs. Placements fluctuate driven by overall demand, product launches, and tend to have some seasonality. Through our quarterly tracking program, we are able to draw historic comparison to gauge the seasonality factor.

Based on shipments in Q1 2011 we saw deviation from what would have been expected in the second quarter. In several color device segments installations were 15% to 20% below the expected level. Black & white installations in some product groups fell back as well, although to a lower extent. The few product groups that are dominated by vendors outside of Japan remained essentially within line of Q2 expectations or did even better than expected.

Is this a bullet-proof evidence that tsunami and earthquake did impact shipments by that amount? There is enough potential for fluctuation in times of an unstable economy, so we cannot be absolutely sure. However, the contrast to product groups mainly manufactured outside of Japan is remarkable. We will be closely watching Q3 results and see whether shipments recover or stay at a lower level.

InfoTrends published more details on the Q2 2011 results in a separate report:
http://store.infotrendsresearch.com/product_p/118646.htm

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