Monitoring Factory Shutdowns with Satellite Data

With the COVID pandemic, the demand for household electronics is higher than ever. Computers, monitors for new home offices, and video game consoles for at-home entertainment have greatly contributed to this demand. This, combined with the lasting effects of the US trade war with China, has put a major strain on the semiconductor industry, and consequently, the automotive industry. Recent reports have shown that car production will not rebound as fast as expected due to the semiconductor shortage, and several major auto manufacturing plants have been forced to shut down production.

One of the casualties has been the GM factory in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. It hosts a large outdoor storage area for new vehicles as seen below.

GM Factory in San Luis Potosi, MX

We ran one of our algorithms over the location in order to monitor the current situation. The algorithm, when executed over a parking lot, captures the volume of cars well.

Below we can see how the time series declined dramatically during the onset of the COVID pandemic in March/April, eventually recovering to pre-pandemic levels by year-end, before experiencing another major decline going into 2021. As the latest observation shows, on February 12th the data reached a global minimum. In other words, the parking lot has almost completely emptied out and has not been replaced by new vehicles.

The heatmap below shows this development clearly: the blue regions indicate empty areas and the red signify the presence of vehicles. On December 4th, 2020 (image on the left below) we see a full lot of cars, and on February 12th, 2021 (image on the right below) the cars have almost completely disappeared.

GM San Luis Potosi on 12/4/2020 (left) and 2/12/2021 (right)

Our monitoring of the site showed potential issues with the plant starting in late December, 2020, hitting a relative low while rumblings about the semiconductor shortage were making inroads prior to the full-fledged shutdown in February.

We will continue to monitor the situation, and are well positioned to provide data on factories most affected by the semiconductor shortage. For more information, please visit or contact us at

Stay light years ahead of the competition.

Interested in:

Please select at least one option