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SBS worldwide starts HarperCollins supply chain project

HarperCollins UK has entered into a long term freight agreement with SBS Worldwide, leading logistics supplier to the publishing industry, to implement a radical digital interface across its supply chain.

Virtualized Logistics, SBS Worldwide’s consultancy arm, worked with HarperCollins to conduct a thorough assessment of their supply chain requirements and designed a tailored solution which not only adds freight visibility at ISBN level and significantly reduces shipping costs, but cuts lead times as well.

The project includes radical changes to everything from PO management and freight services to the distribution of a wide range of books.

James Graves, Global Production Sourcing Director for HarperCollins, said: "We made the choice of partnering with SBS based upon what we perceive as an industry leading software solution, this coupled with a highly integrated approach to understanding our business, then creating a solution for both our current and future needs."

Tony Leach, Director and Chief Sales Officer at Virtualized Logistics said: "Many publishers made the decision to move their printing to China in an effort to control costs. But they have failed to take the next logical step of reorganising their logistics to suit this new business model."

In the past, HarperCollins has been reluctant to change its logistics because no system could offer the degree of inventory control and management reporting that the company needed.

The eDC (electronic distribution centre) supply chain software has been developed by Virtualized Logistics (VL) in close collaboration with the book industry, including HarperCollins, offering a far greater degree of freight visibility and control – down to ISBN level – than ever seen before.

Tony Leach said: "eDC is all about achieving end-to-end visibility throughout the extended supply chain and translating top level supply chain strategy into operational best practice. The positive impacts clients can immediately see include speed-to-market, cost efficiency, customer satisfaction and bottom-line results."

VL also proposed that HarperCollins could save costs by printing high volume runs in the traditional ‘off-season’ of late November to April and store the books in China.

"Using a warehouse in China is cheaper than using one in the UK, and the visibility we provide through eDC means they can simply call off the books as needed and ship directly to where they are needed," Steve Walker, Chairman of SBS Worldwide explains.

"Creating a warehouse in Asia is easy," James Graves explains. "Coming up with the electronic solution to allow easy visibility is hard. That led us to decide to use SBS Worldwide. Their eDC system, with live data and stock levels, gives a level of reassurance that we could not get with any other system."

SBS manages freight purchase order management, air and ocean freight, as well as inventory management in China. The eDC system provides monitoring and performance throughout the supply chain even providing proactive alerts if there are unexpected delays in the shipment.

Shipments can be tracked through each milestone within the freight process, giving HarperCollins the highest level of visibility, improved customer service and more control over resource allocation and forecasting for inbound goods.

Deliveries are made to HarperCollins’ Glasgow NDC and also direct to New Zealand, US and Canada.

SBS Worldwide has specialist knowledge of the book publishing industry and the company can use the same consultancy process to design supply chains for importers and exporters in a wide range of industries.

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