Western Digital: Thailand plants on the mend, HDD production underway

Following devastating floods that dampened the entire HDD industry’s output, manufacturer Western Digital has come clean on how long it will take until its factories in Thailand are back to full operational capacity.

Western Digital: Thailand plants on the mend, HDD production underwayWestern Digital refused to put an exact number on how short it will come up in meeting previous numbers in the months to come, but confirmed it’s slowly but surely recovering from this fall’s disastrous flooding.

The company expects its acquisition of Hitachi GST to go through by March, the same time its Thai plants should resume HDD head slider production. Some hard drive production in the region is already underway.

A plant in Bang Pa-in reopened on November 30 after being pumped, decontaminated and refurbished, said Western Digital, while one in Navanakorn remains water-logged. The Navanakorn facility is scheduled for clean-up and reopening later this month, the company added.

Western Digital CEO John Coyne praised the company’s recovery efforts so far, admitting there’s still plenty left to do before production is fully restored.

“The passion, perseverance, ingenuity and execution exhibited by the WD team has been extraordinary and enabled us to make substantial progress in partially restoring our operations in Thailand, well in advance of our earliest expectations when the floods hit,” said Coyne. “Much work remains to be done but we couldn’t be more pleased with the effort and results thus far, including tremendous support from our supply partners and strategic customers.”

One thing is certain: Coyne and co. face an uphill battle.

Analysts and insiders have speculated that due to the size and scope of Western Digital’s Thailand operations, it will likely produce more than 50 percent fewer HDDs in the coming months than it did pre-flood. The company is expected to lose its top spot in the HDD market to Seagate.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Western Digital was ordered last month to pay $525 million to Seagate as part of an out-of-court arbitration meant to settle a 2006 case involving the sharing of top-secret corporate information by an employee. Coyne reiterated the company’s plan to “vigorously contest” the arbitrator’s decision.