Tech firms left high and dry in shipping dispute

What's up dock?

What's up dock?

By Dawn Kawamoto Many West Coast tech firms in the US are waiting for their ships to come in - literally. A contract dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association that has closed major seaports from Washington state to the southern tip of California since Sunday is showing no sign of resolution. As a result, hundreds of millions of tons of cargo from Asia and other regions has been trapped in containers stacked on freighters outside the ports. The stalemate has left tech companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Gateway looking desperately for alternative routes, just to keep their supply chains moving. In an age where companies pride themselves with the efficient use of a just-in-time manufacturing and delivery process, the slightest hitch can have a serious knock-on effect. Jin Whang, co-director of Stanford University's Global Supply Chain Forum, said: "Companies that rely on just-in-time are the ones most vulnerable to the ports closure. To make just-in-time work, you need to make several assumptions, such as, all your supply line will move smoothly." Representatives from Hewlett-Packard and Gateway say their logistics teams had been monitoring the problem for months and have launched contingency plans to offset the lockout. Dawn Kawamoto writes for News.com