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  • Writer's pictureAlfredo Iorio

Replenish Bins to rotate stock

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Replenishing bins is critical to rotating stock efficiently, and you can do it using the movement worksheet in Business Central. This functionality helps users create and manage rules to replenish bins so stock can rotate efficiently.

In a previous post, I wrote about using bin ranking to optimise stock rotation in Business Central. Today, I will explain how the replenishment engine moves stock from storage into pickface bins.


What is a Pickface bin?

A Pickface - also called a forward-picking location - is a place in a warehouse setup for loose pick activities. Loose-pick means picking quantity is less than one pallet. These can be boxes or single units. Pickface bins are located on the ground level of the racking so warehouse personnel can pick loose items simply by walking around the warehouse (See my previous newsletter on Milk Runs). As the picking activities continue, the quantity stored in the pickface bins is depleted. Therefore, the same product stored in another bin needs to be moved to the pickface bin; this is called replenishment.



The picture above shows an Ikea warehouse store where the bins are arranged into Pickface and storage bins. The bins on the ground and first level are the pickface bins containing loose items. The bins on the higher levels are storage bins. Some of these bins can be used for pallet picking. Business Central can also manage pallet picking and replenishment in different units of measure. I will cover the pallet picking in another post.


How to set up replenishment rules in Business Central

You can set up replenishment rules in Business Central through the bin content creation worksheet. There are the steps required:

  1. Items in pickface

  2. Replenishment bins

  3. Item Unit of Measure and replenishment rules

Items in pickface bins

First, you need to decide how to arrange items in the warehouse. There are no fixed rules for placing items in a warehouse. Typically, I suggest my clients organise items according to velocity and put fast-moving items near the entrance of the picking area. Alternatively, you can arrange fast-moving lines in the same part of the warehouse aisle so that warehouse personnel can reduce walking time. Regardless of your chosen method, you should try to arrange items in the warehouse depending on turnover. In the picture below, I have items 1896-S in the first bin and 1900-S in the second. Ideally, item 1896-S turnover is higher than the 1900-S


Set up replenishment bins.

The next step is to allocate items to the bins depending on the type. In this phase, most companies choose to have the same in the racking for the pickface and the replenishment bins. Though having storage and pickface bins in the same racking reduces replenishment time, trying to arrange items vertically will limit storage flexibility.


In the example above, I have the following setup:

  • Item 1896-S in aisle A, raking 01 and 02. A01A is the pickface, and the B, C and D levels are my replenishment bins

  • Item 1900-S in aisle A, racking 02. A02A is the pickface, and B, C and D levels are for my replenishment bins

Item Unit of Measure and replenishment rules

You can see that both my pickface bins - A01A and A02A - in my Bin Content creation worksheet are set up with a PCS Unit of Measure. This setup allows me to run the replenishment engine in Business Central and automatically create movements to "break" the pallet into loose items - in my case, single pieces (PCS). The storage bins from where I will replenish my pickface are set up in pallets. This allows the warehouse team to receive and put away palletised items without the need to work out the pallet quantity from singles. The last step is to create replenishment rules based on the minimum and maximum quantity. This is where things get complicated; let's look at an example.


The setup above allows the replenishment of two items using a storage-replenishment system for bins based on quantity and unit of measure. Let's look at the setup in detail:

  • Item 1896-S should be picked from bin A01A. This bin can only contain 48 pieces and must not go below 24. When the availability in bin A01A goes below 24, Business Central will suggest replenishing this bin from one of the following bins:

  • From A02D first. If the bin is empty, check A02C. If this bin is also empty, check A01B.

  • A01B is set up with a minimum quantity of 2 pallets. When availability in this bin goes below two pallets, Business Central will suggest replenishing from A02D, then A02A.

  • Any new stock receipt of item 1986-S will be put away first in A01B if the available quantity is less than two pallets. If this bin is full, Business Central will suggest putting the item away in A02D or A02C.

Save replenishment rules

Like all other worksheet pages in Business Central, the Bin content creation worksheet does not automatically save entries. Once happy with the setup, you must create the bin content. This action might be misleading because we don't create bin content, I.E., we don't put stock into the bins. We simply create the rules.


Let's run a quick example. I have no stock of item 1896-S, and I receive three pallets. This is my putaway:


Bin A01B gets the first two pallets, so the minimum quantity is met. The remaining pallet goes to A02D. The setup looks good, but you can't pick because the pickface bin A01A is empty. This is where we use the Movement Worksheet, the page where we run Business Central's bin replenishment engine.


The Business Central bin replenishment tool

The setup has replenishment rules based on bin types and minimum and maximum quantities. Now you need to replenish the pickface and pick orders. First, open the movement worksheet page. Run the action Calculate Bin Replenishment.

You can see how the tooltip message on the action explains exactly what we covered in this article. After running the replenishment, Business Central suggests taking 48 pieces from A02D and placing them in A01A.



You might ask: "I have a full pallet in A02D; why is Business Central suggesting taking 48 pieces from A02D?" This happens because I have breakbulk enabled in my location. This functionality allows me to automatically break large units of measure into smaller ones when moving items in the warehouse. In this example, Business Central will create four movements:

  1. Take a full pallet from A02D.

  2. Place 48 pieces to A02D (Breakbulk line).

  3. Take 48 pieces from A02D (Breakbulk line).

  4. Place 48 pieces into A01.

The two breakbulk lines will be hidden in the movement if you use the breakbulk filter. In this example, I also show one item and activity from and to one bin. In a real business scenario, replenishment can contain hundreds of lines. Business Central can handle great complexity in this functionality. Now, let's create the warehouse movement and see what happens:

Here is the movement generated by the replenishment. Warehouse personnel can register the movement and replenish the pickface

Note the field Bkreakbuk filter is on. Therefore only two lines are visible in the warehouse movement: A take line for one pallet and a place line for 48 pieces.


Recap

You can set up replenishment rules in Business Central through the bin content creation worksheet. There are the steps required:

  • Items in pickface

  • Replenishment bins

  • Item Unit of Measure and replenishment rules

Once the setup is done, use the movement worksheet to create movements and replenish stock. Regards Alfredo

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