Supply Chain Management
“If you look at any link in the chain, there’s room for [increased] efficiency,” notes Michael Healy, executive director of BISG. “Standards inform all aspects, whether it’s product identification, shipping or standards of communication.”
Fine-tuning supply and demand
For some companies, quick and streamlined access to warehouse stock doesn’t go far enough when it comes to building efficiency into the system. To varying degrees, technological innovation has allowed book publishers to embrace a “just in time” ethos with the goal of speeding the production and manufacturing process while minimizing returns as well as bulk storage and handling costs.
“People have learned from Wal-Mart,” notes Steve Sprague, vice president of product strategy at Seeburger, Inc., a global supplier of supply chain technology with headquarters in Atlanta. Wal-Mart’s automated supply chain processes, which enable instant communication between the cash register, the product warehouses and the manufacturer, have been the gold standard for many others.
“The more point-of-sale knowledge you have, the more successful you will be. Those organizations that can get that information faster are the ones succeeding,” says Sprague. Automating throughout the supply chain enables significantly expedited replenishment of new stock, as well as eliminates the overstocking of items that are projected to be popular, but end up not selling.
Carl Brewer, president of Downers Grove, Ill.-based Integrated Warehousing Solutions, agrees that this type of immediate information transfer is extremely important. “The role we play is really fine-tuning supply and demand. What we’re doing is bridging the gap between board-room manufacturing and end-user consumption,” he says.
Brewer’s company does this by analyzing warehouse operations with the goal of improving communication with retailers and having real-time visibility, tracking sales information on a daily basis and adjusting operations accordingly to “supply instant customer need” with “smaller bursts of inventory.”