Thursday, January 31, 2008

Global automakers output hit by China snow storms

Inefficient systems are slack, repetitive and wasteful, but they are often resilient because multiple pathways to a goal exist -- if a disruption blocks one path, a resourceful agent can find another way. Hyper-efficient systems often lack resiliency. Every speck of waste has been removed from the system, and there are no alternative paths.

The snowstorms in China are creating major disruptions in the global car business. Workers can't get to factories, goods can't be transported to harbors, plants have been shut down for lack of power. Terra Daily via Agence France-Presse has the story: Fierce, driving snow storms in China disrupted global automakers' production at their joint venture factories owing to a lack of workers, parts and energy, the companies said Wednesday. Ford Motor shut its Ford and Mazda assembly, engine and research plants in Nanjing from Monday as the eastern city was forced to close icy roads and bridges after being pounded by the worst snow storm in five decades.

"It would be very dangerous to ask the employees to come to the plant," said Lynn Ouyang, a spokeswoman for the Detroit, Michigan carmaker, adding she did not know when production would resume. Freezing temperatures and unrelenting snow has left Nanjing buried under a blanket of heavy snow, prompting the government to call on energy-guzzling factories to curtail production to help ease home-use natural gas shortages. "We use gas for air conditioning of the factory and also for drying paint on our products," said a Mazda spokeswoman.

Snowflake image by NOAA (from Wikimedia Commons). Trillions of these things are falling in China

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