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Media Distribution in the Printing Industry

Area: Processes, Productivity, and Profitability
Document # PICRM-2005-03

Distribution of printed materials involves the movement of product from the production site to an internal (e.g., warehouse) or external (e.g., customer) location. Key issues in physical distribution include cost, materials handling, storage, and safety (Cummings & Chhita, 2004b).

Following printing and binding, printed materials are sometimes entered directly into a distribution channel to be delivered to the ultimate reader or user. Printed materials frequently are warehoused for later distribution. This traditional workflow is known as print-and-distribute (Lamparter, 1998; Cost, 2005).

A new workflow reverses these steps and distributes a job in electronic format to a remotely located print site for reproduction. This workflow has been described as “print’s great paradigm shift,” or, distribute-and-print. CAP Ventures, a market research and strategic consulting firm for the digital imaging and document solutions industry, defines distribute-and-print as “electronically distributing a file and then physically printing the job near the point of final delivery” (Miley, 2003).

The primary objectives of this research were:

  1. To identify the current issues, challenges and trends in physical and electronic distribution within printing companies

  2. To understand the physical distribution workflow

  3. To understand the impact of electronic distribution (distribute-and-print model) and print-on-demand (POD) on traditional print distribution operations

  4. To provide focused research on distribution in the printing industry which would help add to the dearth in the literature on this topic.

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Tags:
print media distribution workflow

Author

Twyla J. Cummings, Ph.D.
Interim Associate Dean, College of Imaging Arts & Sciences
Rochester Institute of Technology

Author

Bernice A. LeMaire

Rochester Institute of Technology