Spreading the word


By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Logistics  

The global warehousing and distribution of books is being revolutionised by supply chain software that SBS Worldwide has written specifically for the publishing marketSBS Worldwide, which has offices in the UK, US and China with a global network of partners, has developed what it calls an Electronic Distribution Centre (eDC), an industry specific software package that SBS believes will transform the global transportation of books.
“We have taken our logistics expertise and combined it with our extensive knowledge of the publishing industry to develop eDC specifically for the book market,” explains Steve Walker, Chairman, SBS Worldwide Ltd.”It’s all part of our consultative approach to shipping.
“We wanted to offer our publishing customers the speed, cost-effectiveness and visibility that we can offer our customers in other industries such as automotive and retail,” he says. “We wanted to integrate supply chain capabilities with total web-based visibility to the ISBN level. And we’ve done it.
“eDC helps publishers take control of costs – and of the books themselves. The software gives everyone who needs it – production, accounts, sales teams – access to the information about where the books are and when delivery can be expected, right from the pre-production stage.”
The system is especially useful for the many publishers who use printers in Asia. “Many people took the decision to shift their printing to Asia to reduce costs, but did not then take the next logical step of reorganising the complete supply chain,” says Steve Walker. Many companies ship the books from the printers to a distribution centre in Europe or the US and then organise worldwide distribution from there.
With the electronic Distribution Centre (eDC), SBS Worldwide can organise the distribution of books direct from Asia. This not only reduces transport costs, it can also cut delivery times by up to two weeks and gives more flexibility to redirect books to areas of highest demand.
“A publisher may print in the Far East, ship to the US, where the books go to a distribution centre, only to be sent back out to a market closer to the printer, such as Australia,” maintains Steve Walker. “This is wasting both time and money, and raises environmental questions too. The only time a book should cross more than one ocean is when it is in the library of a cruise ship!”
He is not afraid of the rising popularity of digital books. “More than 97% of books are still printed in the traditional way and that is not likely to change in the near future. But it is another factor that is driving publishers to seek to reduce the cost of books.”
He told delegates at the Digital Book World conference earlier this year in New York: “While you are looking towards the horizon of the digital age and embracing change, please don’t forget the enormous savings that you can enjoy right here, right now, by managing the printed word. I truly believe eDC has a role in this new age of publishing.”
eDC has a ‘traffic light’ system which flags up potential problems or delays in production, allowing publishers to better manage the operation – and their customers’ expectations. It uses dashboard-style screens to give an easy, at-a-glance, title-by-title overview.
Thus red signifies a problem that users can drill into and solve; amber means the shipment has reached a two-day tolerance either side of an agreed date; and green means, as Steve Walker puts it, “the present is taken care of, so you can concentrate on the future”.
The software package was launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair last year and publishers are already singing its praises.
Stuart Toberman, Business Development Manage, Macmillan Distribution (MDL) is very impressed with its functionality. “I particularly like the visibility tools for monitoring the production cycle down to ISBN level and the fact that it is web-based and is flexible in relation to the needs of our various production departments.
“It enables the departments to measure the performance of their printe

American Journal of Transportation