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  • Writer's pictureAlfredo Iorio

How to use Package Tracking as a License Plate for WMS

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

A license plate is a number assigned to a container unit, which allows for better grouping and management of inventory. Business Central licence plate functionality, called package tracking, includes all the essential features of traditional license plate modules available in tier-1 WMS.


Third-party extensions can also manage licence plating, but these come at a cost. However, the Package Tracking functionality in Business Central can cover the requirements of most licence plate applications, and it's out of the box.


In this post, I will explain how to track packaging like pallets in the warehouse using the standard Business Central functionality: Package Tracking.


Inventory Setup

How does Package Tracking work?

Package tracking is a tracking functionality like Lot and Serial Numbers (Learn more about Lot Numbers in this other post: The Complete Guide to Lot Numbers) and is based on the reservation engine of Business Central.


Package tracking allows users to register additional tracking details like a package number on inventory and warehouse movements when handling goods. Such details allow users to track goods across the company's business processes, such as receipt, storage, picking and shipping. The main benefit of using package tracking is the ability to consolidate goods into packages with unique identifiers and use these identifiers across the entire supply chain.

Configuration and Setup

Configuring package tracking is very simple. Depending on when you are reading this article, package tracking might already be enabled in your database because Microsoft will make this feature available by default in the upcoming releases. To check if this is the case, open the Feature Management page and find if the feature use tracking by package number is enabled.

Feature Management

Once the feature is enabled, we need three more steps to complete the configuration: number series, create package caption and finally, create item tracking codes that we can assign to items.


The first step is optional, but I strongly recommend using a default numbering for the package tracking. Doing this allows you to create sequential identifiers from Business Central instead of typing numbers manually. This option will not block users from typing package numbers on receipt. For example, you might want to capture the supplier pallet numbers when receiving goods and use them as your pallet numbers.


Inventory Setup

The next step is to create a package caption. In my example, I have used Pallet because I want to use package tracking to track pallets, as this is the most common use for a license plating tool. You can update the package caption on the inventory setup page. Lastly, we create item tracking codes with the package tracking features enabled.


Note: Package tracking in Business Central is not automatically enabled on all items. Users must assign specific item tracking codes with package tracking enabled to all the items they want to track using license plating. In my example, I have created one item tracking code named Packaging. Note how the caption Pallet shows on the page.


Item Tracking Code Card

You can see that I have enabled all the options for my item tracking code; the only two options I left out are the Pallet Info. Must Exist for both inbound and outbound movements. This allows me to create and assign pallet numbers on receipt of goods without creating a pallet number before the assignment. This option is rarely used when tracking pallets, but it can be useful for companies that track shipping containers or other packaging types that require additional information.


The package tracking setup is complete, and we can now assign the item tracking code to one or more items to see how to use package tracking as license plating.

Item Card

Use Package Tracking in Business Central

With the setup complete, we can learn how to use package tracking when receiving and handling goods. Let's start with the first step, receiving items.


Receive items with package tracking.

When package tracking is enabled for an item, the receipt process requires one more step: creating and assigning the pallet numbers of the goods received.


I have created a new purchase order for item 1022, and now I must create the pallet number before I can post the receipt. The package tracking details are on the Item Tracking line subpage that opens up when I click on Item Tracking Details on the purchase lines menu.

Purchase Order

I have set up item 1022 with a base unit of measure of pieces (PCS) and an alternative unit of measure of Pallets. Each pallet contains 1200 pieces, which means my purchase order line of 4,800 pieces is equivalent to four pallets. I open the item tracking page for the selected purchase line and use the function Assign Package Numbers to update the quantity on each line to ensure the correct quantity of 1200 pieces goes against each pallet number.


Item Tracking Lines

This is all we need to do to assign pallet numbers on receipt. If you don't use warehouse documents to receive items in a location - or if you don't use locations at all - all you need to do is post the purchase order.


The process is the same if you use warehouse receipts of put-aways. In my example, I use a location that requires warehouse receipts and put-aways (full WMS); therefore, the next step is to create a warehouse receipt for the purchase line with my package tracking. The warehouse document line does not show the item tracking lines on the main page because the warehouse document supports multiple pallets for a single receipt line. The packaging details are stored in the item tracking lines.

Warehouse Receipt

When I create a warehouse put-away after posting the receipt document, I see the package tracking on the document lines.

Warehouse Put-away

If you operate with basic warehousing, that is, picks and put-aways, but no shipments and receipts, package tracking ensures that the purchase line is split so that users can see the package lines in the warehouse document.


The example below shows an inventory put-away with package tracking lines; each pallet will be received in a dedicated bin. You can read more about receiving goods in this other post: Receive Items - The full guide.

Inventory Put-away

Move Items

Moving items with package tracking is also relatively simple, and it only requires the additional step of choosing the correct package number, in this case, the pallet number.


Moving and picking items with package tracking requires users to find and select the correct pallet number, unlike the method described for receiving items, where users must create the pallet number on the receipt. When moving items, Business Central will check if the package number selected is available to move. This is even more important when using warehousing features like bins.


The picture below shows the bin content page for my location Liverpool (LIV), which is set up with simple WMS - Pick and Put-Away required, bins mandatory, but no warehouse shipment or receipt documents. Below is the bin content page where I used one filter on pallet number and another to show only lines where quantity is not zero (<>0). The result is one line where I can see the item in that pallet - I would see more lines if that was a mixed pallet - and the bin where the item is stored. Likewise, I can also see the quantity on pick documents in process (Pick Quantity field), quantity on assembly orders that will consume that item as a component, any adjustment in process and the Available Qty to Take field.


Bin Content

We can use different methods to move items in Business Central, and the process depends on the location setup. For example, a warehouse manager can plan bulk movements and then create and assign movements to warehouse personnel. Alternatively, users can process movements as individual jobs. Check my other post on movements here if you want to learn more: Move Items in a warehouse location.


In this example, I will use a two-step process to plan and register a movement as two separate jobs in a location with basic WMS.


First, I search for the Internal Movements page and create a new record. In this example, I have used a To Bin Code in the document header, but I don't have to because I could use a different bin for each line as the destination of my movement.

Internal Movement

Next, I want to populate the document lines with the items, quantity and the bin code from where I want to move the items. Here, we have two options: add lines manually by keying in all the fields or run the Get Bin Content action to let Business Central populate the lines. I chose the second option, and a report request page opens up, asking me to confirm which filters I want to apply.


The benefit of using this page when package tracking is enabled is that I can use a pallet number as a filter. The filter allows me to get only the pallet or pallets I want to move in my internal movement.


Get Bin Content Report Request Page

The result is the document below: I see one line with item 1022. The From Bin Code is the bin where the pallet is stored and the quantity of 1200, which is the quantity of that pallet.

Internal Movement

The other benefit of using the get bin content action is that the report will include the item tracking line with the pallet number in the document.


The package information is not displayed on the document lines because Business Central supports multiple pallets per item and bin combination. This means that users can plan for bulk movements on multiple pallets of the same item from or to the same bin.

Warehouse Item Tracking Lines

The last step is to create and register the inventory movement. I use the action Create Inventory Movement; the result is the inventory movement below. Note that the pallet number shows on the document lines.

Inventory Movements

Pick and Ship Items

Picking and shipping items with package tracking follow the same logic described for movements. The main difference between a movement and a pick is that the latter is linked to an outbound source document like a sales order, an outbound transfer or a purchase return.


In this example, I have created a sales order that I will ship from my LIV location set up with basic warehouse configuration. Here, I have introduced more complexity in the process and decided to ship only 600 pieces of item 1022, the equivalent of half a pallet.

Sales Orders

At this step, users have two options when choosing which pallet to pick and ship. The first is to select the correct pallet before creating the pick. The second option is to create the pick and then select the correct pallet. The decision depends on the company's processes.


In this example, I want to select the pallet before creating the pick; therefore, I click on Item Tracking Lines from the sales line menu and am prompted with a page similar to the one used when I received the items. There is a fundamental difference between the item tracking page linked to a sales line. This time, I cannot assign a pallet number; I only choose from a pallet where there are enough items available to pick.

Item Tracking Lines

The picture above shows the item tracking page I opened from the sales line. Note the assisted entry icon next to the Pallet No. field. The assisted entry allows me to check the packaging lines for the item to ship filtered by location. The page also shows the available quantity to pick for each pallet and the bin content.


In this case, the bin content shows zero because I don't have a bin code on the sales line. This is by choice because I want Business Central to assign the correct bin code to the picking line after I choose the pallet to pick.

Package Number List

I selected the last line, and after clicking OK, I created the inventory pick.

The result is below. An inventory pick for item 1022 with 600 pieces to pick for the selected pallet and from the correct bin. The bin was assigned automatically, as I mentioned above.

Inventory Pick

The last step is to post the inventory pick to ship the document lines and maybe invoice simultaneously.


A page to check out - Package No. Information List

One of the most useful pages in Business Central available when package tracking is enabled is the package number information list. Business Central creates a line in this table every time you create a package number for an item on an inbound movement. The page gives an overview of package numbers, including items and quantities.


As you see below, I have applied filters on item 1022 and location LIV. The page shows pallet numbers, items and the related inventory. The field Blocked allows users to block a pallet, for example, to put it under quarantine. Other fields, such as Country or Description, are not typically used for pallets, but companies tracking shipping containers often use these fields.


Package No. Information List

The inventory field of page Package No. Information List allows users to drill down and see the inventory movements that resulted in the displayed quantity.


Item Ledger Entries

Closing Thoughts

Package tracking is a powerful feature of Business Central that allows users to track goods by assigning unique identifiers to containers, such as pallets. By using package tracking as a license plate tool, users can improve inventory management and warehouse operations. By implementing package tracking, users can optimise warehouse space and improve traceability.


Regards

Alfredo

 

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2 Comments


Amit Pandey
Amit Pandey
Oct 06, 2023

Hi, Same features were available on Item tracking then what is the benefit and how this feature differ from item tracking

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Alfredo Iorio
Alfredo Iorio
Oct 09, 2023
Replying to

Hi Amit.


Package tracking is a different type of item tracking. The main diffrerence is that PT works together with item tracking, so you can have items with lot tracking and package tracking at the same time. Also PT allows to define tracking at company level, for example package number series are applied to all items unlike lots or serial numbers.

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