A global shortage of chips that has predominantly affected production at car companies and gadget makers is now also hitting home appliance makers as they are unable to meet demand, according to Whirlpool Corp in China.
Jason Ai, president at Whirlpool, one of the world’s largest white goods firms, said the firm saw chip deliveries fall short of its orders by about 10 per cent in March.
“It’s a perfect storm,” he said. “On the one hand we have to satisfy domestic demand for appliances, on the other hand we’re facing an explosion of export orders. As far as chips go, for those of us in China, it was inevitable.”
The company has struggled to secure enough microcontrollers, simple processors that power over half of its products including microwaves, refrigerators, and washing machines.
The chip shortage, which began seriously in late December, was caused in part as automakers miscalculated demand, and sales of smartphones and laptops surged due to the pandemic.
It forced carmakers to cut production, and increased costs for smartphone makers.
Other appliance makers are also feeling the effects too.
Hangzhou Robam Appliances, a Chinese white goods maker with over 26,000 employees, had to delay the release of a new high-end stove vent by four months because it couldn’t source enough microcontrollers.
“Most of our products are already optimised for smart home use, so of course we need a lot of chips,” said Dan Ye, marketing director at Robam.
He added that the company had found it easier to source chips from China than from abroad.