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  • Writer's pictureAlfredo Iorio

Pick stock faster with milk runs

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

Does your team spend too much time picking stock than they should? Then, you must know about milk runs. In this post, I will cover how to setup Business Central to minimise picking time and costs using milk runs.

­­What is a Milk Run

­­The name Milk Run derives from the method used by the dairy industry to deliver the daily requirements of milk to the dairy co-operatives picking up milk from multiple suppliers and delivering it to a common point - typically a local distribution centre - for further processing. A milk run ensures that that minimum distance is travelled and the maximum demand is carried into the delivery vehicle. Though milk run derives from logistics, the same applies to warehouse management. Instead of picking up goods from suppliers and deliver to a sorting point, we use milk runs to pick from warehouse bins and place goods into a loading bay or vehicle.

­­How to enable milk runs using bin codes and ranking

­­By default, Business Central will arrange your warehouse activity lines using the bin code in descending order.


In the example above, I have bin codes arranged in ascending order. If the stock to pick is in both binds A01A and A01B, the picker will be sent to Bin A01B first. Therefore, the Bin Type Code and ranking play a role in the milk run. My bins A01A and A01B are set up with the code MISC. This code allows both picks and put-aways movement to and from these bins. With such a setup, A01B will always be the first bin to be depleted when we pick goods. I have set up my item 1928-S with four fixed bins, from A01A to A01C.


I have received two Pallets of this item and posted the warehouse receipt. Let's see how BC handles the Put-away and picks:

­­Milk Run example in a warehouse Put-away

­­I have received my item 1928-S, and I create a warehouse put-away. The first bin to get the first pallet is A01C, then A01B.


Milk Run example in a warehouse pick

­­With the same setup, I create a sales order for one pallet of item 1928-S. Business Central sends the user to A01C. ­­­

If I create a pick for three pallets, the picker will be sent to A01C first and asked to place the pallet into the loading bay and repeat until the last pallet in A01C is picked.


Though in some cases, this process is correct, I.E., pick one pallet, place it in a loading bay and repeat, there are instances where you want to keep picking multiple items before you place the goods in the loading bay. The easiest way to achieve that is to change the sorting method of your pick. For example, by choosing a bin ranking on the pick note.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Even though my bins are all set up with a ranking of 0, Business Central uses the same descending logic to rank my bins in the picking note. A01C first, then A01B and A01C. Lastly, place three pallets in the loading bay.

­­Use Bin Ranking to optimise your milk run.

­­Sometimes you want to control the order of the bins in your warehouse document regardless of the bin code. Bin ranking does precisely that. Let's set up our bins in aisle A with a higher priority so that our pickers can go to aisle A and pick from the lowest bin before moving to B. Likewise, I want my pickers to go to the next aisle and pick from the lowest bin, even if there is stock available on a C or D level of my racking units. First, I set up the bins with a ranking where a higher number means a higher order.

In the example above, all my bins with the last letter A have higher priority. Also, I have ranked the bins in ascending order so that Isle A comes before B etc. The naming convention that I use are as follows:

  • First letter = Aisle

  • Two-digit number = The racking unit

  • Last letter = The racking unit floor lever where A is the lowest and D is the higher level

This setup allows me to start picking from aisle A and pick stock from the lowest level. I have received stock in all the bins and created an order for four pallets. This is how the picking note shows:

Business Central is now choosing the bins with the higher priority, and although I have stock in bins A02B and A02C, my warehouse pick does not include those bins. This looks like what we need, though we still have a "take" action followed by a "place" action. If we want our pickers to pick all the items following an efficient milk run and place all the goods picked in loading bay 01, we can use the Action Type sorting method. Pick lines will be sorted by action type first and bin ranking afterwards.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­In Summary

  • Warehouse activity lines with bins with the same ranking are created by bin code in descending order.

  • Use bin ranking to enable your preferred priority for pick and put-aways.

  • Use action type to group warehouse activities using a milk run system.

Regards Alfredo


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