Most book distributors after receiving an order from a retailer, pull the books from the shelf, scan them with a bar code reader, then pack them in boxes. But this scan-and-pack method is both cumbersome and error prone because workers must accurately judge box size. A wrong guess may mean all the books in the order won't fit in the box, which delays shipping.
But a recent dimensional weighing system (DWS) from Kg Systems, East Hanover, N.J., cubes or measures a book's weight and dimensions, prior to boxing. A computer uses the data to accurately predict the proper box size. As a double check that the correct books are enclosed, the packed carton weight is compared to the weight of the individual books.
Koen Book Distributors, Moorestown, N.J., recently installed the DWS equipment in its fulfillment center. To better serve its customers, which include Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Walden Books, and Borders, Koen combined the DWS with an Advanced Shipping Notification (ASN) system. ASN lets customers add a box of books to its inventory by simply scanning a bar-code label. Information on what's inside the box is contained in the code, so workers don't have to scan in each piece.
"We have to continue finding ways to help us and our customers keep pace with growing Internet sales," says Chuck Lehman, MIS manager at Koen. "Systems such as DWS and ANS are key ingredients in that equation. They've paid for themselves 10 times over."