After a major fire broke out at a Foxlink factory in southern India that supplied Apple products, production was halted and full operations are not expected to resume for the next two months. According to CNN, citing Reuters, the company produced charging cables for the iPhone. The plant is located in the Chittoor district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, and the suspension of its work has raised concerns among industry experts about the near future of the Apple production chain.
Part of the factory building collapsed in Monday’s fire, although no workers were killed. However, with the exception of fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, sprinklers and hydrants were in poor condition, making it difficult to contain the spread of the fire. According to the local fire department, smoke detectors and fire alarms were not working. Neither Apple nor Foxlink have commented on the situation, and the cause of the fire is still being investigated.
Foxlink is known to have operated 10 assembly lines in two separate factory buildings, four of which were completely destroyed. Production on the remaining six is expected to resume before the end of the week. According to a Reuters source, Foxlink has been one of Apple’s key suppliers in India, so supply disruptions to Indian-made smartphones are a possibility. Foxlink is known for exporting charging cables and some other devices to China (including Hong Kong), with a total export volume of US$32.2 million as of 2022. According to data from last year, the company exported about 7 million USB-C to -Lightning cable from India and shipped just 1.6 million copies in January. Foxlink sales in India itself are not yet known.
The incident was part of a series of problems facing Apple, which is actively ramping up production in India. Here the company has 11 suppliers. In 2021, food poisoning broke out at the contractor’s Foxconn plant, and in 2020, riots broke out at the Wistron plant over failure to pay wages to workers.
According to media reports, part of the building burned down completely. Many workers worry about the prospects of continued employment. Local firefighters report the incident to state authorities, who then decide whether to form a team to investigate. Police estimate the damage at $12 million.
Apple has recently placed high hopes in expanding production in India in order to get rid of its total dependence on Chinese production. The company began assembling the iPhone in the country back in 2017.