As a part of its cost-cutting efforts, Seagate has decided to shut down its HDD manufacturing plant in Suzhou, China. The factory is one of the company’s largest production assets and its closure will significantly reduce the company’s HDD output. Seagate intends to lay off ~2200 employees, but it is unclear what it intends to do with the facility, which it owns.

The factory in Suzhou, China, assemblies hard drives and performs their final testing before shipping. The plant does not produce HDD subassemblies and thus is not vertically integrated, but at 1.1 million square feet (102 thousand square meters), this is one of Seagate’s largest manufacturing assets and the largest drive assembly facility. The company got the factory from Maxtor, when it acquired it in 2006. According to a media report, the plant no longer makes products and the last employees will be laid off on January 18, 2017.

“As part of our continual optimization of operational efficiencies, Seagate has made the difficult decision to shut down its factory in Suzhou, China,” an alleged statement by Seagate reads. “We regret that our Suzhou employees will be affected by this action, which reflects our ongoing commitment to reduce Seagate’s global manufacturing footprint and better align the business with current and expected demand trends.”

Last year Seagate announced intentions to optimize its manufacturing capacities from around 55-60 million drives per quarter to approximately 35-40 million drives per quarter. In 2016, the company already fired about 8,000 employees from different locations, but that was only a part of the strategy. With the plan to shut down the plant in Suzhou, the company actually reduces its ability to produce the drives.

After Seagate shuts down its plant in Suzhou, China, it will have two vertically integrated HDD production facilities in Wuxi, China, and Korat, Thailand. Both factories product drive subassemblies and actual HDDs, hence, by using only these two plants the company optimizes logistics (as it no longer has to transport drive subassemblies to Suzhou) and cuts its per drive manufacturing costs. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what happens to Seagate’s factories that only produce drive subassemblies (sliders and HGAs).

Seagate's Manufacturing, Development, Marketing and Administrative Facilities
Location Primary Use Approximate Area Ownership
USA California Product Development

Marketing

Administrative
842,000 ft² Owned/Leased
Colorado Product Development 664,000 ft²
Minnesota Product Development

Production of Recording Heads
1,144,000 ft²
Northern Ireland Springtown Production of Recording Heads 479,000 ft² Owned
China Suzhou Production of Drives 1,103,000 ft²
Wuxi Production of Drives and Drive Subassemblies (Head Stack Assembly) 704,000 ft² Leased
Malaysia Johor Production of Substrates 631,000 ft² Owned
Penang Production of Drive Subassemblies
(Sliders)
402,000 ft²
Seremban Production of Test Equipment and Systems 299,000 ft² Owned/Leased
Singapore Woodlands Production of Media 1,504,000 ft²
Science Park Product Development 410,000 ft²
Ang Mo Kio Marketing

Administrative
225,000 ft² Leased
Thailand Korat Production of Drives and Drive Subassemblies
(Sliders, Heads Gimbal Assembly, Head Stack Assembly)
1,767,000 ft² Owned/Leased
Teparuk Production of Drive Subassemblies
(Heads Gimbal Assembly)
362,000 ft²
Korea Suwon Product Development 220,000 ft² Owned

It is important to note that while Seagate cuts down HDD assembly capacities, it does nothing to plants that produce heads, media and substrates. Over the past few years, unit shipments of HDDs have declined, but their average capacities increased (especially capacities of HDDs for datacenters) due to strong demand for high-capacity SKUs. Therefore Seagate may not need to produce a lot of drives, but it needs to pack about the same amount of heads and platters into fewer HDDs. Moreover, in the coming years, the company will need more heads because of new manufacturing technologies (TDMR, HAMR, etc.) and more media because it can now pack more platters into high-end helium-filled drives.

What remains to be seen is what Seagate plans to do with its manufacturing assets from the Suzhou facility. The fab is so large that it does not seem that all of its equipment could be relocated to other facilities. Moreover, the building itself is huge and it is unclear what will happen to it.

Related Reading:

Sources: Seagate, BestChinaNews, Reuters, The Register.

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  • TesseractOrion - Saturday, January 14, 2017 - link

    More Trump BS. I'm not in the USA (thank ****) but the deluded, uneducated idiots that (sort of) elected a perverted clown (who managed to lose a fortune despite inheriting one) are a laughing stock to the rest of the world (which of course doesn't really exist in the 'minds' of many of you).

    You may find the joke backfiring in the coming months; it will be a hoot to watch...
    Reply
  • vladx - Saturday, January 14, 2017 - link

    I'm also not from the USA and I would have to agree with @TheJian. Clearly you are brainwashed by your country's mass media that undoubtedly reports everything the American mainstream media says about Trump without taking a closer look into things. Reply
  • Michael Bay - Sunday, January 15, 2017 - link

    Spoken like a true nose slave. Reply
  • ahamling27 - Saturday, January 14, 2017 - link

    Apparently you missed the budget resolution that just passed where it'll add $9 trillion to the debt over the next decade, masked by the GOP's "repeal Obamacare" rhetoric. It worked and the house passed the most massive budget in U.S. history. Whether you are a republican or democrat, I think we can all agree that the budget deficit is getting out of hand.

    Also, I'm sorry for Seagate, but let's hope that it helps them in the long term and figure out a way to grow their company past mechanical hard drives.
    Reply
  • UseYourBrainThanks - Monday, January 16, 2017 - link

    smh. A business man != non profit origanization

    Guess who is number one to look out for in a sole proprietorship?
    The staff (voters)? LOL, they are there to be worked for as low a cost as you can get
    The shareholders? Who is a shareholder in a sole proprietorship? LOL

    Opportunity: Hey, there's this chance here that you can make your workforce work at double the hours, reduce operating costs by half and get triple your gross profit. Wanna do it?

    Businessman to a naive person: Oh no, i can't very well make my staff work at the equivalent of half their wages just so i can make triple my yearly profits!

    Businessman in real life: F*** yeah, sign me up. Those morons better be glad i'm giving them a job in the first place! F***, can i sell my staff's bodies after they die for military tests!? Aren't i creative?
    Reply
  • Michael Bay - Sunday, January 15, 2017 - link

    Chink love is a truly cuck perversion. Reply
  • RanDum72 - Saturday, January 14, 2017 - link

    Does anybody really OWN anything in China? Reply
  • sonny73n - Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - link

    "Does anybody really OWN anything in China?"

    What are you trying to imply? Have you ever been in China?
    Go back to CNN or Fox News! Stop trying to spread fake news here.
    Reply
  • Ananke - Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - link

    Chinese entities mostly backed by local administrations own the majority of everything in China. The rule is 51% at least for Chinese in China. So, Seagate is closing its share of a joint venture, which was so far eroding its pricing. That's Seagate and every large corporation strategy btw - buyout and shut down competitors. Seagate is shutting down Maxtor, it did take them awhile, probably due to very restrictive arrangements for approval on the original acquisition of Maxtor's assets in China a decade ago. Reply
  • salimbest83 - Sunday, January 15, 2017 - link

    its Penang Plant already closing in.
    the last worker in there is around july or sept 2017
    ( im doing plant visit November last year )
    Reply

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