Warehouse Practices: How Do Yours Measure Up?
Another plus: the program is useful for publishers of all sizes, according to Mike Harry, chief supply chain officer of Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn., and John Lancaster, general manager of the distribution center for medical publisher, FA Davis in Philadelphia.
Harry directs a 550,000-square-foot warehouse, shipping some 150,000 SKUs, and stocking at least 45,000 at any one time, moving largely to trade and consumer channels. Lancaster manages a 45,000-square-foot facility, shipping 550 active SKUs primarily to the professional and educational markets.
Lancaster found it especially useful in providing additional inputs for the warehouse system conversion his company is undergoing. Harry gave examples of useful benchmarks for picks/hour, and the impact of case vs. individual picks and dynamic pick routing.
On the upper end of the scale, Floyd Westervelt, director of strategic planning and inventory at Harcourt, directs four warehouses ranging from 375,000 to 600,000 square feet in size, moving approximately 100 million books annually primarily for the school, trade, academic, reference and religion markets. He, too, is enthusiastic about the value of the program for all publishers.
“[It will] provide a different perspective and better insight into their operations,” Westervelt says. “Large and small publishers can learn from each other. They can see what’s actually happening ‘out there’ and help produce change.”
There are certain parameters pretty much common to publishers of any size, he adds, such as: “pick rates, management span of control, issues with software, advantages of picking to light or picking with voice, handling equipment, etc.”
The deciding difference in the market is “the ability to deliver. The distribution center is an extension of the sales team,” notes Westervelt.
With distribution being the toughest operating link in the publishing supply chain, the Warehouse Benchmarking System can be a useful tool to the industry as a whole, as well as to every participant. BB
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.