Implementing Bins in Your Warehouse is as Easy as 1,2,3 … 4!

Turning on bins in NetSuite is an easy way to ensure congruency and easy product picking in a warehouse. Keep in mind, "bins" is the term used in NetSuite that refers to a location, which could be a room, racking, or even a reusable bin. If you’re getting ready to introduce bins, here are our top 4 tips for successfully using bins in your warehouse.

We covered this topic on an episode of the RF-SMART podcast. Listen in to learn how an RF-SMART customer is using bins in their facility.

1. Make sure the bins are in the right sequence when they are being labeled.

By envisioning your picker’s warehouse path, you will be able to create a plan for labeling. Ask yourself these questions as you get started:

  • How will the picker walk through the warehouse?
  • Where will they start?
  • Where will they end up?
A simple method for mapping out your warehouse is using an Excel spreadsheet. But be careful - the easiest mistake to make in this process is not using the correct alphanumeric sort. For example, if you have 20 aisles, Aisle 1 should be entered into Excel as “01” instead of just “1.” Take care to ensure that the bins sort in the most logical way. Thorough computational input guarantees the correct sorting conditions.

2. As your operations grow, use Bin Sequencing functionality.

A supply chain best practice is to implement Bin Sequencing (sometimes called pick or location sequencing). This process eliminates extra steps workers take as they pick orders. When enabling this process in NetSuite with a mobile solution like RF-SMART, you get to determine the most efficient pick path for warehouse workers to travel by displaying bins in a specific order on the mobile device. Once you decide on your path through the warehouse, you can provide an order for those bins with 100% flexibility and control to your operations.

The goal of bin sequencing is to create only one pass down an aisle, picking as efficiently as possible. Imagine that you are in the grocery store: pasta is on the left and marinara sauce is on the right. You would not do one pass down the aisle to grab the spaghetti and turn around at the endcap to do another pass down the same aisle to pick up the sauce on your way back. Instead, you would save time by picking from both the left and the right. With bin sequencing, the picking order on your device is optimized to make one trip down the aisle while picking from bins on both sides in the most effective way possible.

3. Serpentine bins through the warehouse to optimize productivity.

It will be easiest for your picker to simply turn the corner and find the next bin in the sequence if the bins are arranged in a serpentine pattern. To accomplish this, move both down the aisle and back and forth across as you label so you don’t end up going all the way down and then all the way back up. This zigzag pattern produces much quicker and more efficient picking. 

Bin Sequencing

We recommend using the Uniform Naming Convention (above). A uniform naming convention establishes a consistent pattern for bin numbers in your warehouse so that your pickers always know where bin-01 is on each aisle as they pick.

4. Use magnets & make sure labels can be scanned.

Warehouses are constantly shifting to meet the needs of supply and demand. Therefore, what worked initially may change sooner rather than later. To keep up with this perpetual evolution, stick your labels to sheet magnets instead of directly onto the bins or racks. That way you aren’t wasting time in the future peeling off labels and printing new ones if you reorganize your warehouse.

Finally, make sure you can scan the labels before you adhere them to anything. We’ve heard many stories of companies prematurely labeling a warehouse only to find that the barcode printed could not be scanned. Always work with your hardware expert to check the compatibility of your scanners with the barcode labels.

Each warehouse faces its own challenges, but using bins doesn’t have to be one of them. By following these top 4 steps, implementing bins in your warehouse can be easy!

For more information, check out our Bins Best Practices Guide.

Download Bins Guide