One of the major questions that needs to be answered by a NetSuite customer who has inventory, is “Will you use bins?” There is no easy answer to this question, but there are a number of operational factors that will impact the final decision.
One thing to remember, as we get started, is that bins require specific warehouse processes to be followed. If these processes are followed, you will have inventory that is more accurate and faster to pick, as well as more accurate order fulfillment.
So, to bin or not to bin?
If your inventory fits the following conditions, then a no-bins environment may work for organization:
- All items are identified with a barcode
- The number of items stocked are small and do not change frequently
- Items can be organized in logical groups, which reflect how they are ordered
A no bins approach will allow you to perform inventory transactions that can create negative inventory, but this ability can also cause inventory or costing inaccuracies. If you like the flexibility though, an inventory management system that works with no bins can really help. And if any of these conditions change, you need to react quickly and move to bins before you create inventory issues.
What if Bins are Right for Me?
Bins provide you better visibility to where inventory is stored in the facility, especially when the item is stored in more than one physical location. In addition, bins provide a number of other features that improve inventory and picking accuracy and warehouse performance:
- Cycle, physical and bin counts that can be performed in real-time
- Picking strategies
- Bin replenishment
- FIFO and FEFO control
How do you move to Bins?
If you are already live with NetSuite and are not using bins, the process of moving to bins is not as difficult as it might seem – although it should be performed by someone with the right tools and experience. There are many factors to consider when setting up a bin management system, including item characteristics, physical warehouse constraints, transaction volume and order mix.
After you’ve decided to move to bins, the next decision is to either use bin management or advanced bins. Here are some helpful tips for this step:
- If you will be stocking lot and/or serial items, then you will be required to use advance bins.
- Many customers choose advance bins simply for the tighter inventory control that is provided – even without lot and serial items.
- Using a barcoding collection solution like RF-SMART when moving to bins helps decrease the amount of effort that will be required to maintain the bin management system.
Once you’re using bins, there are two major tasks that need to be performed.
The first is deciding how to layout your warehouse to provide the most efficient picking strategy. The bin format needs to sort in the sequence that you want your employee to walk through the facility. The best way to validate this is to use an excel spreadsheet and sort the bins in a column.
The second task is to print bin labels with a barcode. One of the best approaches is to print the label and then apply it to a magnetic sheet that can be stuck to the fixture. This will allow you to move or add bins in the future without having to scrape bin labels off the fixtures. RF-SMART can also assist you with different ways to print these labels that meet your warehouse environment.