back to article Inside WD's flooded Thai factory

There is an eerie calm inside Western Digital's flooded hard disk drive plant near Bangkok. It has been transformed into a silent lake. Photo images sent to us and posted on Facebook show the plant rising out of a sea of floodwater. Here are three of the images. First, the approach to the plant: Click to enlarge Closer to …


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  1. TeeCee Gold badge

    When I first came here.....

    .....this was all flood plain. Everyone said I was daft to build a hard disk plant on a flood plain, but I built it all the same, just to show them. It flooded......

    1. Anomalous Cowturd

      The clue is in the name...

      FLOOD plain.

      They are building thousands of homes on a flood plain not far from me.

      Greed and stupidity are words that spring to mind.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        We're also at it.

        London for example is on a flood plain. Imagine trying to empty the tube network of water for example!

        1. Yag

          What a surprise!

          Most major settlements are so close to a source of fresh water that they are floodable!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Shame they didn't build it in the traditional Thai style out of teak and on stilts. They evidently knew what they were doing in the old days.

    3. Ammaross Danan

      Prior Art

      "When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp."

  2. Knochen Brittle

    Hindsight also says ...

    How do you titillate an ocelot?

    You oscillate its tit a lot.

  3. Anonymous Cowherder

    Speaking to a supplier yesterday, their HDD prices went up early afternoon, £40 on a 1TB drive!

  4. Mondo the Magnificent


    ..add soap and it could be turned into a disc scrubbing plant..

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Daft As The Japanese

    Lets be thankful it wasn't a fast breeder reactor.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Don't worry, they've got fast breeders … of a different kind.

  6. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    "Hindsight says it was foolhardy building industrial plant on a floodplain with inadequate flood protection"

    Yes, but it was a cheap place to build.... what could go wrong?

    1. ThomH

      Possibly nothing, who knows?

      Supposing the savings paid for the risk by already adding more than the cost of the delay and the rebuild, especially when you allow for relevant insurances and premiums, then it's quite possible that nothing went wrong.

      After all, nobody was hurt and hard disks remain generally available.

  7. Sam Liddicott

    power boats and paint ball

    Let's rent it out for power boats and paint ball guns. And paint grenades.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Hindsight says it was foolhardy building industrial plant on a floodplain .."

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but irrelevant as we can't go back in time.

    As they are having to evacuate half of the capital at the moment, it clearly shows that this is an extraordinary weather event and not just a little bit of rain. Clearly extraordinary events are more difficult to prepare for, especially if you are a developing country.

    I'm not saying that the Thai authorities are completely blameless in this, but I think we need to cut them a bit of slack.

    1. Colin Millar

      OK - I'll say it then

      The Thai authorities are completely blameless in this

      It's up to WD to calculate their own risks.

  9. Big_Boomer


    Large parts of London are built on a flood plain.

    Naples is built next to a highly active Volcano.

    The Bay Area is built on a VERY active fault line.

    All very stupid, but then people are stupid.

    You pays yer money and takes yer risk.

    Just don't start bitching when it happens.

  10. Solomon Grundy

    UK or US

    Sure, the facility is flooded & millions worth of manufacturing devices have been lost, but it is still cheaper than building & running a plant in the UK or the US. The annual labor savings alone offset putting three facilities in the West.

  11. It wasnt me


    "Hindsight says it was foolhardy building industrial plant on a floodplain with inadequate flood protection."

    Foresight said exactly the same thing.

    The beancounters said the land was cheap, so get on with it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here too

    All the building in this area is on flood plain, behind flood defences that the envionment agency are keen to stop maintaining. Planning of course approved by the council. Its all very short sighted. I can't quite understand how the UK government continues to allow new building on flood plains. it is very short sighted given recent flooding incidents in the past few years.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to bring HDD production back to the USA

    I know a great area that's flat and easy to build on.

    It has been proposed to invest there to bring high tech companies in - New Orleans.

    Oh, hang on a minute... ;-D

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wet n Dripable

    Can I have a WD 500G Black please?

    I'm sorry sir all our stock is going green now.

    Aren't you writers wishing there was some link with a failure at Seagate?

    1. Steve Evans


      If this was a tsunami you could have said...

      A working Sea-gate would have protected the WD factory.

      But it wasn't

      So you can't.

  15. Tim Baker


    If you only build things on the tops of hills you waste even more money.

  16. Reality Dysfunction

    Bad timing....

    Priced up x4 2tB samsung f4s this morning for a NAS box at £295 just rechecked and now its £384..

    Thats another project on hold till next summer

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wooo... Glad I did my NAS last month... Now I'd better keep my fingers crossed that none of the drives need replacing.

  17. daviduk


    Wonder if the crocodiles have reached the factory yet?

  18. Archivist

    Supply and demand?

    On Monday I ordered 3*2TB Seagates from a regular supplier and they accepted the order. They were shown as in stock.

    Later that day they were shown as out of stock.

    Yesterday they emailed me saying there'd be a delay.

    Today they emailed me saying they couldn't get 'em at all.

    Meethinks they went straight under the table at the importers, to be sold at inflated prices later.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look on the bright side

    The excutive toilet will not have been affected

  20. daviduk


    And don't forget the crocodiles they have roaming as well!

  21. iMess

    It's one way.. mass produce watercooled drives.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    WD = Watery Drive ?

    sorry :)

  23. HansG

    Glad I got that F4 last week

    Order a Samsung F4 2TB last week (delivered today) for £80.

    Just check on eBuyer today, now selling for £130 (reduced from £156)!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. al 3

    So does this scare explain why ebuyer has bumped the price of a WD 500Gb passport from a previous £60 to £100 ?

    PCW is still £65.........

    1. Steve Evans

      LOL. Not often a shopper buying from PC World has a chance to be smug when confronted with a seasoned online shopper.

  25. {¯`·.¸_LÅMߤ¥_¸.·´¯}

    37000 WD people

    37000 people from this plant alone, many of them with homes underwater, all of them out of work for the foreseeable future. Stop making ill informed cracks about floodplains.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      easy tiger

      I'm pretty sure most (if not all) the readers/commentors of El Reg feel sympathy for the workers and their plight, but the cracks about floodplains are hardly aimed at them, it's more aimed at the management types who agreed to build a high tech factory on a floodplain. You know the management types I'm talking about, the ones that are probably still being paid a wage and associated benefits while the office is underwater while their subordinates are left wondering how they will feed their families tomorrow.

    2. Olafthemighty



      It should be plain to see that humans frequently deal with the flood of emotions created by an event such as this with humour. It doesn't mean we don't feel sympathy for those affected.

    3. MnM


      Easy on the tofu

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a title is required

    WETstern Digital anyone ;)

  27. Suburban Inmate


    One duck house. Very spacious, well equipped modern interior.

    1. Paul Webb

      I know just the man to help...

      Expenses MP auctions duck island for charity

      [Fire Sale icon, obv.]


  28. Gene Cash Silver badge

    In hindsight...

    Perhaps they shouldn't have put 60%+ of their manufacturing capacity in one damn plant, considering they're a global company.

  29. JeffyPooh

    Best 'Joke of the Day'

    GG wrote (elsewhere):

    "Seagate probably wouldn’t have a problem with flooding because they have a sea gate… Get it?... Seagate… sea gate… a gate… between them and the sea..."

  30. Nights_are_Long


    Bean Counter "You know you guys wanted a new factory?"

    Non bean counter "Yea"

    Bean Counter "Well we are giving you one"

    Non Bean counter "sweet, where is it?"

    Bean Counter "Well not in the UK , Mainland Europe or the USA like you wanted. No we found a nice little plot of land in the Far East our field agent said the land is cheep and the women are very friendly there is a teeny tiny problem though."

    Non Bean counter *through gritted teeth* "Go on..."

    Bean Counter "There is a teeny tiny microscopic problem of massive flooding at some point, that could cause a massive spike in the global cost of hard drives but that shouldn't concern you".

    At this point the non bean counter seeing how this was going, reach over to his phone an rang 3534 (The BOFH emergency service number), 30 seconds later 1 Taser induced "KZZERT" a heavy roll of carpet and a bag of quick lime later the world was saved from this mess.


    We can but deam, we can but dream.

    1. Steve Evans


      Blimee granddad, you need to get a new computer TV.

      1. Nights_are_Long

        Haha thankfully I am not that old, I am only 26.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        'Least his CRT has a degauss button built in… I have a few here that don't.

    2. John 62

      factories and warehouses flood in the UK, too.

  31. Phil Koenig

    Hindsight, take 2..

    Not only the disk drive industry, but Sony and Nikon's DSLR plants are underwater too.

    Seems to me, looking at various photos of flooded factories, that all these companies would have needed to do to prevent 80% of the problem with ruined machinery/inventory was simply to install all the equipment and inventory storage on the 2nd floor.

    Make the 1st floor a parking-lot, and as soon as the waters subside, back to business. (Well, except for the issues with other local infrastructure and parts suppliers)

  32. TomS_

    "Inside" ?

    I call this a walk around the outside. Come on .....

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Well, I can be "inside" my property standing outside my house on the drive way…

  33. I am replete.

    Yes, it was foolish, but the Thais are not alone.

    Consider the foolishness of building a nuclear power plant

    astride an earthquake fault

    which just happens to be in a

    sunami affected coastal region.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Barracuda that got away

    Rumor has it there was a huge 5TB Seagate Barracuda ready to put on the boat, but it got away..

  35. Swisskid

    Thailand Flooding - WD's answer

    Chris -

    Maybe we should remind you that hundreds of people lost their lives and 700,000 homes have been flooded, not to mention all the people without a place to work after 14,000 factories closed. And the flooding isn’t over. Believe it or not WD’s main concern right now is to look after its 37’000 employees; we are the largest foreign employer in Thailand .

    There are MANY industries in the area, including high profile ones like automotive. I just heard that Toyota closed a factory in the U.S. for a while because it cannot get the parts it needs, which are manufactured in the flood plain (that hasn’t flooded for more than 50 years).

    Your article suggests that WD Thailand went into hibernation – quite the opposite is the case; we moved most equipment to higher areas, we got help from the Thai Navy to move equipment away in boats, ship some of it to Malaysia in order to ramp up our facilities to full production over there etc. etc. As an industry expert you should know better that the WD management is doing everything humanly possible to provide solutions to the situation – it is actually ridiculous to think that Jo hn Coyne and Tim Leyden fell into an “eerie silence” and that the water is pounding on expensive equipment – the guys are working 7/24.

    Maybe you could post this link about the Thailand flood recovery efforts we are making:

    Perhaps with your infinite power of the pen you could influence some good? If you need additional info let me know.


    Daniel Mauerhofer

    WD's Head of Public Relations EMEAI, Munich, Bavaria, Germany

  36. johannesburg


    Guessing they're really serving up the caviar now!

  37. theBatman

    Wetstern Doggypaddle?

    Sorry, sorry, sorry...

  38. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    On the bright side..

    .. you already have the building in place for a water-cooled data centre.

    The worst about this is the gazillions of people out of work across the whole country. And I'm wondering if this will affect the harvest, I hope not because that's an absolute disaster waiting to happen :(.

  39. Matt Bucknall

    I wonder how much machinery is upstairs. If there's just goods in/out and offices downstairs, the loss isn't *THAT* bad.

  40. Naughtyhorse

    foolhardy building industrial plant on a floodplain with inadequate flood protection.

    no shit!

  41. Gordon Barret


    Erm, your headline states "Inside WD's flooded Thai factory", yet all 3 of the photos - including the one marked "inside the building" - quite clearly show the view outside the factory.

    I was looking forward to an inside view :-(

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