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Life Tech Says Quake-Related Power Outage at Hitachi Plant Causes Delays, but Damage is 'Minor'


By Bernadette Toner

This article was originally published March 23.

Life Technologies said last week that its partner Hitachi High-Technologies has experienced power outages following the earthquake that struck Northeastern Japan this month, which could delay shipments of some of its sequencers.

Hitachi High-Tech collaborated with Life Tech on the development of the 5500xl and 5500 SOLiD sequencers and manufactures them as well as some of the company's CE sequencers at its Naka facility.

Hitachi High-Tech said in a statement last week that its Naka Division and Hitachi High-Tech Manufacturing & Service facilities in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture, "have suffered structural damage to their buildings or have damaged production facilities and are currently not in operation," though it added that it expected power to be restored before the end of the week.

Hitachi High-Tech said that it was "still working to grasp the full extent of the damage" to its production facilities.

Life Tech officials noted during an investor presentation last week that its own facilities and those of its partners in Japan suffered only "minor damage" as a result of the quake, and that all 350 of its own employees stationed in Japan, as well as all the Hitachi workers working on its products, are safe.

Mark Stevenson, president and chief operating officer of Life Technologies, said during the presentation that the company had expected to begin shipping the 5500 SOLiD from the Hitachi facility by the end of the quarter.

Due to the power outage, however, "we won’t be able to ship those instruments and expect that that will be at least a $10 million impact to our first quarter."

He added that the company is still assessing the complete impact of the earthquake on its operations.

Life Tech does not expect the setback to have an immediate impact on its CE business. "We have enough stock in those capillaries to last us in our distribution center at least over the immediate next couple of weeks or so," Stevenson said, "so it’s not an immediate issue for us."

He added that the company will "assess this week when and how we get back up manufacturing of those capillaries."

Have topics you'd like to see covered in In Sequence? E-mail the editor at btoner [at] genomeweb [.] com.