To make the most of Clever WMS Plus it is important to layout and label bins in an efficient manner. Clever WMS Plus introduces the concept of racks to the existing warehouse storage types in Microsoft Business Central. Racks are a new construct that help to organise the bins and provide a notion of the physical location of a bins within a warehouse. Racks can be thought of as large sections of shelving units that store your products. Depending on the warehouse, racks might be considered as an entire shelving unit spanning one side of an aisle or as small sections within a long until of shelving. A Rack logically sits between a Location and a Bin in a basic warehouse scenario and a Zone and a Bin if using directed put-away and pick. Racks are optional in both cases.
To differentiate between a bin that is part of a rack and those which are freestanding, Clever WMS Plus also introduces the concept of a Floor Bin. Floor Bins are simply a Bin that is not part of a Rack.
By using Racks and Floor Bins Clever WMS Plus can improve efficiency in the way warehouse employees are routed around the warehouse. Having an optimised warehouse layout means your warehouse employees spend less time finding products and make fewer mistakes.
To utilise Racks fully they should be considered when designing the format of a Bin Code. A Rack Bin is in effect as position when a bin and can be identified as the rack number, the section of the rack and the level (shelf) of the rack. If the rack contains specialised storage mechanisms such as small parts bins or roller racking this can be further divided by having additional sections and levels within the Bin. This concept is illustrated in the diagram below:
Note: Depending on the format of the racking it may be more optimum to switch the order of Level and Section.
For Floor Bins, it is not necessary to identify a position in a rack as they are freestanding, although it is good practice to prefix these with an identifier that clearly differentiates them from a Rack Bin.
Within Clever WMS Plus the rules that govern the format of Bin Codes are managed by Bin Code Formats. When deciding on the structure of the Bin Codes the following 'best practice' suggestions should be considered:
- Bin Codes should be easily identified by both bar code as a a human readable code. Make the format consistent and meaningful.
- When setting up numeric codes, add leading padding of 0 to the codes so they are always of the same length. For non-numeric codes choose a consistent suitable character to pad the codes to a consistent length
- Choose a length of code that allows sufficient scope for future expansion of the warehouse.
- Number levels from the ground up. This way, if you add more levels, you don’t have to relabel your shelves.
- Consider leaving gaps in the series to allow for future warehouse reorganisation.
- Consider alternating the sections of the code between numeric and alphabetical. This can help minimise human read errors.
A common method of labelling Racks in to use the serpentine method. Using this method adjust racks are numbered in the opposite direction to the preceding rack, Using this method warehouse employees can weave (like a snake) up one aisle between racks and then down the next aisle. This reduces the distance travelled to pick multiple items. With Clever WMS Plus, this method not necessary. Put-away/Pick Routes can be used to define the order that bins will be visited rather than encoding this in the bin format. This means the consistency of bins formats does not need to be compromised to support efficient warehouse operations.