“Perfect storm” affecting Kawasaki parts supply
Huge new demand globally combined with global events like the Suez Canal shipping blockage and the pandemic are causing a “severe shortage” of parts installed in motorcycle components like ECU or ABS units Kawasaki says.
As the widespread effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic are assessed, manufacturers are doing their upmost to adjust to the “new normal”, including Kawasaki. With demand increasing for powered two wheelers during the pandemic, the leading Japanese manufacturer is facing up to material and component shortages.
“A number of factors are currently affecting our factories in terms of supply of parts and materials.” Managing Director of Kawasaki Motors Europe, Kenji Nagahara, explains.
“Like many other motorcycle and automotive manufacturers, we have been affected by the severe shortage of semi-conductors which are installed within components such as an ECU or ABS unit, fitted to many motorcycles in our range and are integral to core systems such as ABS braking.”
The sudden huge extra demand in the past twelve months for lap-top computers and other goods that rely on semi-conductors was certainly a contributing factor, but also some of the main suppliers had some serious issues of their own at some of their manufacturing plants. Add the disruption of totally unforeseen circumstances like the recent blockage of the Suez Canal, and its attendant influence on worldwide shipping and container availability, and you have what many people would term a “perfect storm”.
Compounding the semi-conductor issue, a global shortage of the specific resins needed to manufacturer certain motorcycle parts is also affecting production, as Nagahara explains.
“This triple blow to production is a real challenge. We cannot simply exchange one resin for another as all materials used in manufacture are tested and approved according to EU law and machine homologation. It is something the factory is investigating now, and we hope to resolve the issues that face us within a short timeframe. These issues are not unique to Kawasaki; the majority of manufacturers that use these semi-conductors and resins, coupled with the continuing interruption in global shipping and container movements plus the recent closure of Suez Canal, means that importers and exporters are equally affected and it is in all our interests to find a quick answer to the problem.”
In closing, Mr Nagahara was pragmatic about the unfolding situation and highlighted Kawasaki’s intention to minimise any impact as much as possible.
“Many Kawasaki dealerships have been open across the pandemic keeping essential workers and motorcycle fans on the road. Now, as the broader situation and regulations change more Kawasaki dealers across Europe are opening their doors to customers eager to enjoy their machines. Dealer stock is being monitored daily and we are supplying inventory from our European warehouse. Our aim is to maintain the supply of product as much as possible while mitigating for any shortages or production issues within our ability. We thank customers and dealers in advance for their patience and promise we will do everything within our power to face up to this challenge”.