Bin Tracking

There can be substantial benefit to warehouse/shop floor operations that track bin location of inventory. The ability for the system to know where to find particular items, lots or serial numbers may reduce the time it takes to find the required goods. It also can support directed picking, so users can be guided as to where to go next. Bins can also help facilitate Physical Count/Stock Take

Sounds like a great idea. But the costs of bin tracking may exceed the benefits.  The small costs are the software costs associated with having ERP/WMS system that is capable of handling bins. The larger costs are going to be related to the effort to record bin numbers when processing all inventory movements.

  • Doing this manually could be very onerous.
  • Doing this with a portable terminal is better.
  • Doing this with scanning a barcode of the bin number is better.
  • Doing this with radio frequency scanning and real time updates is even better

Doing anything but last option also may have timing delays. if goods are moved but the update to the system does not get updated until “later” then for that period of time the system will be telling users wrong information. Goods are not located where system says they are and you may lose any productivity gains you were expecting by having bin tracking.

Timing and bin tracking go hand in hand. For example, shipping a sales order without bin tracking can update inventory later, maybe even hours after being picked. If you consider available inventory as on hand less open order, you will not really impact operations very much. If you are using bin tracking and you do not update picking until later, you will be telling staff to go to wrong location, have bad cycle bin counts, etc.

Bin tracking demands that almost every inventory movement be recorded in timely fashion. Every user that handles inventory probably needs to record in real time.

Many times I have advised companies to not use bins unless they are sure they need them. Implementing bin tracking can be more expensive than you think.


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