Coronavirus Impact on Manufacturing and Shipping from China

Unless you are living under a rock, you may have heard about the coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China. The Hubei province, and much of China, is in complete lockdown with many businesses closed, and people staying home as the government extended Chinese New Year for a few days until the epidemic is under control.

This should obviously have an economic impact, at least in the short term, for the next few weeks or months since people are asked to stay home, and so much of what we consume is manufactured in China. And indeed, I’ve seen more and more companies announcing delays due to the virus, and I’ll provide some examples.

Coronavirus manufacturing china

Freetronics, an Australian company selling boards and other electronics products, has issued a notice explaining they are directly impacted since they work with manufacturers are based in Wuhan, Beijing, and Shenzhen:

Bare PCBs for both Freetronics and SuperHouse products are mostly produced by Gold Phoenix, which is located in Wuhan, right in the bullseye of the epidemic. Like almost all businesses in Wuhan, Gold Phoenix has told workers to stay home and stay safe.

Some of our prototype PCBs are produced in factories around the city of Shenzhen, in southern China just over the border from Hong Kong. Those factories are currently closed too.

Our PCBA (PCB Assembly, which includes pick-and-place installation of parts on the boards) and final testing and packaging is done in Beijing, which has now also gone into lockdown. Not only are factories closed, but roads out of the cities have been closed to prevent the spread of infection so any boards that have aleady been produced are stuck in warehouses.

It’s not quite possible to find alternatives in the short term, also some boards will be made in Australia, but overall, Freetronics ask people to be patient:

So over the next little while there will probably be stock problems for both Freetronics and SuperHouse. Please be patient while I do my best to assemble what I can using local stock of bare PCBs and parts, and keep in mind the millions of people who are now stuck at home with dwindling food supplies. It may be frustrating that products are out of stock, but that’s really not important when the health of so many people is at stake.

Pine64 also announced delays for shipment of its Arm boards and laptops as the Chinese government restricted business operations until February 10, and Hong Kong also issued travel restrictions from China:

The Guangdong province, where cities of GuangZhou and Shenzhen are located, has today issued a restrictive order delaying businesses from resuming activity until 10 February 2020. This is done in an attempt to curb the spread of the Coronavirus. This date may, and likely will, be further extended. For those who don’t know, this is the region where PINE64 gear is produced.

Furthermore, Hong Kong – where popular PINE64 devices featuring Lithium Ion batteries, are shipped from – has now also imposed limitations on border crossings.

The length of the delay will, of course, depend on how quickly authorities are capable of tackling the virus. There is no saying at this point if we are talking days or weeks – no one can predict how the situation will pan out.

It’s more difficult to find updates from companies actually based in China, potentially because they may get into troubles with the government discussing the issue, but I’d assume if you have purchased products from Aliexpress, GearBest, GeekBuying, and the likes, and the parcel has not left China yet, you won’t get it anytime soon. By the way, the virus needs a carrier (e.g. living creature) to stay alive, so there’s no risk to get infected with the coronavirus from a package since it takes several weeks to arrive at its destination.

I did get feedback from a person located in Liaoning (a province that borders North Korea, far from Wuhan) who has not been working for over a week as the shop where they work is close, and yesterday I asked the manufacturer of Ntablet when it would be available for retail, and it will take a while since they have to work at home.

coronavirus store closedSo beside the human toll, there will be an economic impact, but only time will tell just how much this impact will be.

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32 Replies to “Coronavirus Impact on Manufacturing and Shipping from China”

  1. My friend from Shenzhen factory said that they starting from Feb 10. I’m waiting in Gzh now because it is make no sense to leave without results for current project. Anyway foreigners feels free here, because is an opinion that this virus only for asian people.

    1. > Anyway foreigners feels free here, because is an opinion that this virus only for asian people.

      You can’t prevent people from being stupid anyway :-/ There are already cases of European people being infected, but whatever absurd rumours some read on facebook and other landfill sites surely are more believable to them. I wish a good luck to all those forced to stay home. I would really hate having to experience this, but we know it certainly is the most efficient way to stop spreading a virus. In the mean time we can all wait an extra delay for our orders to be shipped, it’s not dramatic.

  2. Waiting for some one to mock up a SBC with ultra violet lights over a face mask, for germ free breathing.

    Best wishes for all those affected by this illness.

    1. Well I have my old UV box that I was using for custom PCBs and I was thinking to use it for this purpose. But I’m not sure of which components can be harmed. Most electronic components ok, but some packages may have a problem with long exposures.

      Actually, I’ve asked this also in Reddit few days ago, but obviously nobody knew.

      Also I was reading that in my home country this winter more people died from the common flu. Also compared to the population the death rate from the common flu was magnitudes greater than the coronavirus. I know it’s not the same, but it feels like the alarm about this is a bit stretched (I mean the fact that WHO issued a global alarm).

      1. The number of death from the common flu is currently higher, but the death rate is much higher with the coronavirus (sometimes like 0.1% vs 2 or 3%), and it’s also more contagious: R0 – R-“naught” value much higher..

      2. > but some packages may have a problem with long exposures

        I don’t care a single minute and continue to happily open my packages. It’s a virus, not a bacteria! Contrary to a bacteria, a virus is not a self-sustaining living being, but almost only a piece of genetic code injecting itself into existing cells to make them produce new instances of it. It dies very quickly without host cells (minutes to hours at best). One situation would make it last longer, for example if there was a blood stain on your package since it would provide some host cells to the virus, but even then once the stain dries, the cells die and so the virus with them. And anyway if you’d open a package stained with blood, you’d be cautious, fearing other infections.

        So in short, better not add panic to an existing serious problem, and not punish the people who are already victim of this virus by not buying from them anymore :-/

        1. I think you made a lot of assumptions here. I’ve never mentioned not to buy anything from anywhere or punish others and furthermore I didn’t mentioned using a UV light to kill “Chinese” virus and bacteria. It’s a general problem, it’s not about China. Anyway, there’s no point to continue a discussion like this here.

          Btw, as Ive mentioned earlier, there not only the new virus. Only in US, which is considered a first world country, 6000 out the 13 million infected from influenza died this year. And a bad year up to 61000 dies. Having protection measures is not alarming or punish, it’s common sense.


          1. In France it was something like 9000 last year, and yes, the flu makes far more damages than many other viruses every year.

            When I said “let’s not punish”, I was not suggesting that *you* do that, but that by supporting the rumor that there could be such a risk, a lot of suggestible people will definitely stop ordering anything from China or labelled as “made in China”, and *this* can have damaging effects on some companies, especially after two-three weeks off.

          2. An by the way, regarding this “Having protection measures is not alarming or punish, it’s common sense”, it’s exactly what should be frowned upon when people don’t know how to protect themselves.

            Here in France, right after the virus was announced, while no single case was yet reported here, all the stock of masks in pharmacies was immediately sold. These are totally useless as they don’t prevent from breathing, they’re just used to avoid contaminating other people when you’re already sick. As a result, there is none left for those affected by the flu, thus thanks to these stupid people giving to panic, we can already expect to see more victims of the flu this winter compared to average. Ironically most of these masks are made around Wuhan so we won’t see new ones for a while!

            Sometimes it’s better not to scare people by talking to them about stuff they don’t understand and have no control on, but mass media love to make some buzz and keep their watchers captive, thus love to scare them :-/

          3. Well, people could protect themselves by just doing the flu vaccine every year, even if they don’t belong to the sensitive population, but as you know it’s 2020 and there are people that still believe vaccination is a global conspiracy. I’ve stopped explaining the [herd immunity]( for quite some time now, because people trust random Facebook posts more.

            Once someone told me while I was having the flu, “hey you see? You do the vaccine every year and now you’re sick”. People are not even aware what the flu vaccine is and how it protects. Yes, sure, there’s no vaccine for the new virus yet, but it will be in a few months, but people won’t do it nevertheless.

            Regarding the media, I don’t know about France, but the US, UK, German and the Greek media that I read from time to time -because of my origin- are just a joke. You need to search a lot to find reliable information.

            Anyway, I know what you mean, but I really believe taking protection and discussing about that doesn’t add to this horror; on the contrary discussing wrong information, stretching the facts and demonize preventing measures (e.g. vaccination) does.

          4. I has in Home Depot yesterday and they were unloading pallets full of face masks. An Asian woman in line in front of me bought several cases of masks, over 2,000. I just bought one mask and some lumber. MDF makes too much dust when you saw it and I wanted a mask. I wonder if those 2,000 masks will end up back in China to be sold at a profit?

            I checked the Home Depot website and the masks she bought were 5-pack boxes. So that was 10,000 masks. Her bill was over $5,000.

          5. Whenever there’s a tragedy there will always be some people that will make a profit from it.

            btw, I see there’s a limit 10 per order, when online. I don’t know if that’s something that changed recently or is a shipping limit.

            Another fact is that this kind of masks are more useful to wear when you already have the flu so you don’t spread it. Otherwise, they don’t really protect you and the proper masks are those with the interchangeable filters, which are very cheap in Amazon.


            Also 60 filters are cost around 10 EUR.

          6. the flu shot only protects against a handful of flu viruses out of the trillions of strains that exist. some people need all the help they can get and the flu shot is needed due to their health status but the flu shot is not a magic shield against the flu.

          7. It’s not a magic solution, but once you factor in that your body never does a perfect match on external organisms entering your body, you figure that as long as the vaccine was close enough to the virus you get, it will be caught. That’s also why usually after you refresh all your vaccines you figure that you get sick less often even from things that are not directly related to those you got protected against. That’s why even with multiple strains of flu you are way less likely to get sick with a vaccine than without.

          8. “These are totally useless as they don’t prevent from breathing, they’re just used to avoid contaminating other people when you’re already sick”

            Your virus is not FULL-DUPLEX, it is a half-duplex rx and not tx.

  3. andahammer

    Big Computing in a Small Box.
    ” Friday Jan 31: In the latest news from FriendlyELEC, the people of Guangdong Province have been told to stay home until at least February 10th. FriendlyELEC engineers will be working from home. Some administrative work can be done as well.
    ARMWorks is open and shipping from our inventory here near Seattle. Please phone or email with questions about OEM orders. We are in touch with FriendlyELEC every day.'”

  4. Update from Gearbest:

    Hi, Hope this email finds you well. Due to the recent circumstances happening in china ( the coronavirus and Chinese New Year), all our Gearbest staff will return to work till February 10th.

    The items that have stocks in Hong Kong warehouse and overseas warehouse can be shipped in time normally. The other items in Chinese warehouses are temporarily scheduled to be shipped after 2.10 if have any other news, we will send you in time, thank you for your kindly understanding.

    So items in the Hong Kong warehouse can still be shipped.

  5. “Unless you are living under a rock”

    A number of scientists are speculating that 2019-nCoV was passed from bats to snakes (some snakes hunt bats and eat them, but bats are hibernating at the moment during the winter months) and that infected snakes (cobras or kraits) on sale at the Wuhan market passed on a mutated form to humans.

    Do not cobras and kraits often “live under a rock” (or amongst piles of rocks)?

    What this incident does reveal though is that the CPC city government failed to implement adequate animal health inspection and hygiene regulations for the sale of live animals.

    1. well, many chinese people what i know even don’t wash their hands after toilet, and i don’t comment about when they come from outdoor, so…

    2. “Unless you live under a rock” is an English colloquialism. The implication is that someone who “lives under a rock” wouldn’t have any knowledge of what’s going on in the world. Typically it’s used when talking about some big story that you’d expect pretty much everyone would have heard about…except for hermits that live in caves far away from all people.

    1. So the February 17 date may be China wide after all. Here’s an updated from Khadas:

      As the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) continues to spread, Shenzhen and the adjacent cities within Guangdong province remain under health quarantine for the time being. Here are the latest updates for Khadas:

      Our office may re-open on 17th Feb, however this depends on the Shenzhen government.
      Order fulfilment is delayed. If you can’t wait, please contact our sales to cancel.
      We are really sorry for the inconvenience, and we hope to be back soon!

  6. My business is hanging on a thread right now. I have a fast turn and burn supply chain from China. Bankruptcy is just 2 weeks away. Certain areas are being told they open for business on the 11 or the 20th. However, the truth is its not happening. As days come and go they get pushed further out.

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Khadas VIM4 SBC
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