What is a Bin?
If you have completed your basic inventory management accounting module or worked in the supply chain of any business shipping more than a few goods a week then you probably already know what we mean by a bin.
For those that don’t – a bin, in this sense, is essentially a sublocation. The types of companies that require bin management normally have an Inventory store or warehouse of the following format.
Bins are not normally physical bins but the name given to sub locations like a rack or a shelf. It is the smallest unit of location used.
The NetSuite bin management solution allows a company to track the location of stock down to the bin level which has obvious benefits. If your Warehouse is any bigger than my front room then finding Widget A when you don’t know what shelf it is on is going to be a pain.
When you are using bins/racks/aisles you are also going to need to label this so Warehouse Operatives know what location they are looking at.
Labeling can be a big job and you want to get it right to make tracking stock intuitive. Once it is done, however, locating a specific item will be as simple as scaling down locations.
- What Warehouse is this item stored in?
- What location within the Warehouse?
- What bin within that location?
It’s not uncommon to use holding bins or receiving bins also. This would be a generic bin that new inventory is received in to where it awaits re-location to it’s long term bin.
Businesses might choose to set up a receiving bin in each location of the warehouse. Warehouse Operatives can then put those items away at a later point in the day. This approach increases the speed and efficiency that deliveries can be received and also allows extra time to be taken at putting items away in their correct locations.
|Levelling up your inventory management? Do you need to track inventory in various different unit types? Take a look at NetSuite’s Multiple Units of Measure feature.
NetSuite Bin Management or Advanced Bin Management?
NetSuite has two bin management modules to choose from – Basic Bin Management and Advanced Bin/Numbered Inventory Management. The right module for you depends on a couple of pieces of information.
Is your stock lot numbered/serialized or not? If your stock is either lot numbered or serialized you will need advanced bin management. Otherwise the basic module should be sufficient.
Do you need to assign items to different bins on a transaction by transaction basis? The basic NetSuite bin management feature requires you to assign items to bins via the item record. There is no flexibility on the transaction to assign to different bins. This is unlikely to be the deciding factor towards whether you need the advanced feature or not but it is something to be aware of.
If the Multi Location feature is enabled, Advanced Bin Management also allows businesses to use bins on a per-location basis. I would normally advise using bins across the board but if this is a requirement in your company then you may need to consider the advanced feature.
Setting up NetSuite Bin Management
For standard NetSuite Bin Management you simply need to select Bin Management under the Inventory & Items subtab of Enable features.
For Advanced Bin/Numbered Inventory Management you will also need to check Advanced Bin/Numbered Inventory Management and the assumption is you already have Lot Tracking and Serialized Inventory live.
|You must enable the Inventory feature first before you can enable Bin Management. If you are not using the Inventory feature then you don’t need to use NetSuite Bin Management.
The next, and most important step is to set up your bins. If bin numbers already exist in your warehouse then you need to list those and then recreate them in NetSuite.
This can be done manually by navigating to Lists > Supply Chain > Bins or via CSV Import.
Bins are associated with a Location and you can also select one bin per location (or per item when using the basic feature) as your preferred bin. Choosing this preference will default this preferred bin when receiving in new inventory. This would likely be your receiving bin if you were using one.
Item records may not be setup to be using bins yet so check the Use Bins checkbox is marked on the Purchasing/Inventory subtab. If you need to update all your item records you can do this via a CSV import just referencing the Item Name/Internal Id and the Use Bins value of TRUE.
Once all your items are setup to be using bins you will have all your on hand stock still sitting without bins. Your next move is going to be to use the Bin Put-Away Worksheet to put your current on hand quantities in to their respective bins.
As with so many implementations of new features in NetSuite you’ll notice that this setup is not particularly technical but is very data heavy. Pay attention to your bin setup. Maybe take the opportunity to refine the numbering system you have been using before replicating in NetSuite.
|If you have a particularly large and complex warehousing set up then check out this brilliant article about general best practices for location and bin labeling systems.
Update labeling of locations and bins so it is clear for operatives. Before preparing your import to update item locations check that everything is in it its correct location. Since you are taking a detailed look at items anyway why not cleanse your inventory and write off any expired stock.
Using a Bin Numbered Inventory Management System
The use of a bin numbered inventory management system is very straight forward once everything is setup.
You will already be used to selecting locations for your inventory. Moving forward you will also be selecting bins.
If preferred bins are being used then this will be automated at the point of receiving but for all subsequent transactions a bin will need to be selected to find the relevant item.
The bin number can be found on the Inventory Detail of transactions.
If you are yet to be tracking your inventory in NetSuite you will want to take a look at Inventory Management first. Set up a discovery call with NetSuite or your NetSuite partner to find out what features and configuration will best suit your needs.
If you are looking at implementing NetSuite bin management then you should also check out the following articles about other aspects of inventory management in NetSuite: