The Power of Three

Harvard, MIT and Yale University Presses joined forces to form TriLiteral, to improve operations and promote the sustainability of their publishing programs.


TriLiteral is a joint venture company of three prestigious American university presses – Harvard, MIT and Yale. The company was created to manage, from one facility, the distribution of books and journals for all three partner presses and additional client presses. Combined, they publish over 25,000 physically distributed titles from this facility. TriLiteral has a 155,000 square-foot warehouse that houses 6.5 million units and is able to ship up to 3,000 orders per day, equating to more than 40,000 units.

Before the facility was built, TriLiteral decided that a key factor to success was to find the best ERP system on the market. The company, along with representatives from the three university presses, made a careful assessment of many software vendors before choosing Iptor’s IP1, the most widely used publishing software for publishers and book distributors.

IP1 is a publishing-specific ERP software – one of TriLiteral’s primary reasons for choosing it – with modules for sales, royalties, order management and warehouse management. “IP1’s efficient integration of our business processes has made us significantly more productive,” explains Bob O’Handley, TriLiteral’s Director of Operations. “IP1 allows us to provide accurate, efficient, timely and cost effective warehouse and fulfillment operations. Our customers are constantly complimenting us on our excellent service levels.”

Reduced workload with increased production

Before installing IP1, TriLiteral had to deal with three separate databases for each of the three presses. “IP1 allowed us to consolidate the databases so we could merge orders. This enabled us to pick orders faster, while saving on packing material and freight,” explains Jeff Pepin, TriLiteral’s Distribution Manager.

IP1’s efficient integration of our business processes has made us significantly more productive.

Bob O’HandleyDirector of Operations, TriLiteral

The software provides improved functionality for TriLiteral, such as a real-time interleaving system for wire-guided forklift trucks, which uses radio frequency devices to put-away and pick product. This allows the company to receive in product and pick orders in much less time. “This level of innovation is important to our company, as we strive to be an integral part of our customers’ logistical backbone,” notes O’Handley.

In the warehouse, IP1 provides all the relevant information necessary to run an efficient operation. “By capturing the book dimensions, the system allows for directed putaway during the receiving process. This information also is used for maximizing container space, which helps reduce material costs,” says Pepin.
When it comes to picking replenishments, the system knows all the books’ locations and optimizes the replenishment process. The system won’t allocate a driver to pick up too many cases, but will limit the operating load to what the truck can actually handle.

Accurate online reporting

IP1 has excellent reporting, which adds to TriLiteral’s efficiency. For example, a user can print a report any day for any particular item for a specified period. This provides information on how many replenishments drivers have completed in that period, as well as the number of moves. “I can track an order that came in three years ago, or a pallet that was delivered four years ago, and know exactly here it is in the system, how many locations its ever been to, who handled it, really everything,” explains Pepin. “We also have the ability to cycle count our entire inventory on our own schedule. IP1 produces all the relevant reports.”

Powerful software

IP1 constantly tracks and categorizes the life of a book, from sales to method of stock-keeping (e.g., FIFO, first in, first out) and location. The partner presses use IP1 for book production and purchase order creation. These POs interact directly with the warehouse management system. They also use the Royalties module, which tracks all the necessary sales data to ensure their authors are paid correctly and in a timely manner. “One of the biggest benefits of IP1 is the level of integration, which allows all the modules used by various departments at both TriLiteral and the partner presses to function independently, yet communicate directly,” states O’Handley.

TriLiteral is very pleased with its decision to purchase IP1. The Iptor support team is passionate about helping TriLiteral save costs, be more efficient and provide excellent ongoing support. “Iptor has a great support team and we have a great rapport with them,” says O’Handley.

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The Power of Three