updated 11:00 pm EST, Sun December 18, 2011
Pegatron plant sees blast shortly before opening
Apple's iPad production may have seen an at least temporary setback after reports late Sunday of an explosion at a yet-to-open plant from Pegatron subsidiary Riteng in Shanghai. The blast on the fourth floor on Saturday injured between 57 and 61, depending on conflicting claims. There hadn't been a fire, but some equipment had been damaged.
The company could work around the damage for production to keep going, a Pegatron spokesman said. CFO Charles Lin said the company was waiting on Shanghai's government to decide on Monday whether or not Riteng could start manufacturing again.
Production for Apple's current and possibly future iPads could be affected. The local Yi Cai Daily said the plant made back panels for the iPad 2 and, presumably, would switch over to the iPad 3 when ready. Lin didn't confirm full details, but he did say the plant was in "trial production" of an unspecified product, usually as the factory checks to make sure its process works smoothly before it has to scale to full volume.
The accident would be the second this year affecting Apple's production. In May, a more serious explosion at a Foxconn plant in Chengdu sidelined a small amount of production until two weeks later.
Apple is rumored to be ramping iPad 3 production soon, possibly in January, for a launch in March or April.