Hard drive shortage to continue

Chronic shortages in hard disk drives are likely to continue well into November, creating inventory headaches for distributors and resellers alike.

The constraints are affecting markets worldwide and involve nearly all hard disk drive vendors. Supply to Australian distributors has slowed to a trickle-distributors are reporting allocations of just 20 per cent for some vendors. For others, such as Samsung, supply has all but disappeared.

“We’ve seen ridiculous levels of demand,” Sam Muscariello, Western Digital Corp.’s vice president of Asia-Pacific sales, said last week. “From our perspective we are in over-demand by as much as 30 per cent.”

A combination of seasonal demand and a more buoyant commercial sector are thought to be the main reasons for the shortage. The technological transition from 40 G-byte drives to 60 G-byte and 80 G-byte devices is also thought to be a factor.

Lead times in hard disk drives typically operate on time frames of eight to 10 weeks.

In the meantime, resellers and distributors are just having to make do. Geelong-based AH Computer Services supplies Samsung and IBM drives. The deficit of Samsung drives means the company is now filling orders with IBM.

“Our main drive is Samsung because it is reliable and still has a three-year warranty,” said managing director Albert Hofflin. “We’ve been filling orders with IBM drives, even though it is more expensive. There is always a shortage of something in this industry, but this was very unexpected.”

Samsung was unavailable for comment.

Westan’s managing director Victor Aghtan described the shortage as “severe”. “The channel has a just-in-time culture,” he said. “Imagine what that is going to do to deliveries?” The shortage will last at least until late November, but could continue into the new year as a worst-case scenario. Meanwhile, resellers are being advised to take extra care with orders.

“Get your orders in as quickly as possible and as accurately as possible,” Muscariello said.