The Xirallic Disaster
On the afternoon of Friday, March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred off the coast of Japan. It was the most powerful earthquake ever to hit Japan and one of the five largest earthquakes ever recorded in over 100 years of record-keeping. The earthquake then spawned a tsunami generating waves over 100 feet high. Among other things, the tsunami damaged a nuclear generating plant and wiped out countless homes and businesses. Among the many businesses hit was the Merck company, the world’s sole maker of Xirallic paint pigment, a product used extensively by most major car companies for both factory paint jobs and field refinishing. Immediately, major refinish paint companies began to ration the product. Whereas a paint distributor may order a gallon of Xirallic material, they were now reduced to pints or less. The disaster also had a an ill-effect on many parts manufacturers, suppliers to auto manufacturing lines. Hardest hit were Toyota and Honda. The Xirallic issue was rectified in about 90 days once the plant was brought back on-line. Parts issues, mainly with Toyota and Honda lasted almost a year.
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