The Book Service

TBS Ltd is the UK’s leading book distributor, delivering over 100 million units, each year. A fully owned subsidiary of the Random House group, it achieves an overall market share of 14 per cent.

With a legacy, paper ticket-based picking system in place for a period of some years, there was potential for the organisation to realise significant operational advantages through the introduction of a new system.

In order to update an ageing paper-based order picking system, TBS partnered with industrial computing specialist Psion, alongside technology provider Vocollect Inc. Dorset Software was chosen to provide technical support for the incoming automated voice warehouse picking solution.

TBS recognised a need to enhance accuracy and efficiency within its warehouse operations. Increased visibility over work trends would also permit swift and intelligent responses.

It was decided that a mobile handset based voice picking system would address these concerns most effectively. A recognised return on investment was envisioned within just 18 months.

TBS observed that voice recognition technology had grown mature enough to be implemented within a modern distribution environment. Consequently a voice picking solution was provided, utilising hardware and software from Psion and Vocollect, Inc.

Given the system’s business-critical nature, a need arose for technical support to be provided, ensuring the long-term stability of TBS’ operations.

Having extensive experience in the provision of support for business-critical Psion systems, Dorset Software was chosen to provide TBS with 24-hour support services. A range of ad-hoc code and device maintenance issues were addressed by Dorset Software staff.

According to TBS Operations Development Manager Ian Cottee, the benefits of Dorset Software supported voice picking systems were clear. “When the solution was implemented in 2006”, he notes, “accuracy went from 95 to 99 per cent. Overall productivity was increased by a further 10 per cent”.

Besides the above rises in productivity and efficiency, the system provides TBS with real-time data on the location of both stock and staff, increasing transparency and allowing workflow to vary based upon where attention is needed.

“We are very happy with the service and support we have received from Dorset Software,” Cottee concludes.


Technology Snapshot

The voice picking solution is developed using Microsoft ASP.NET technologies, connecting to a central SQL Server database.


“TBS found that there was a high level of comfort with Dorset Software, as calls were logged and resolved on time, providing a very good level of service.”

Ian Cottee, Operations Development Manager, TBS