In April 2016, a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Kumamoto, Japan, home to the company’s image sensor production facility. The massive shock, which followed a pre-shock of 6.2, devastated the facility. Because Sony’s imaging sensors are used not only in their own products but in the products of other camera manufacturers, the shock set back the release of new camera systems and development by at least a year.
We had seen photos of the damage caused by the quake, but hadn’t really understood the extent of the destruction, until we were part of a Sony tour for select U.S. media of the Kumamoto plant. We watched a video that Sony produced, which showed the astounding effect of the quake, and the company’s response.
We asked Sony if we could share this video, and they agreed. The video, on our YouTube channel, is an interesting look at the quake itself (caught by security cameras), and how Sony had to completely rebuild their automated clean rooms, nearly from scratch.
Some of the most amazing parts of this footage are the twisted steel beams and the gaping hole left in the roof of the clean room. Sony executives told us that all the factory employees were part of the clean-up and restoration project, bringing the plant—and Sony’s digital imaging business—back online.