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Receive Items - The full guide

How to receive items using basic, advanced or no WMS. This article is a complete guide on how to receive items in Business Central.


During my work as a supply chain consultant first and now as a Business Central consultant, I have helped many companies redesign their inbound processes.


One of the first topics I discuss with my clients is how they receive items. Unlike other ERPs where there are set processes to receive items, there are many ways to receive items in Business Central. I describe all four ways to receive items in this post.


NOTE: This post describes inbound processes using purchase orders as examples. However, the processes described work on all other inbound tasks: sales returns and inbound transfers.

Post the receipt and put-away from the order line

The simplest way to receive items is to post directly from the source document line. This process works only if the location is set up with no WMS features, and it can include bin codes or not.


In the picture below, the setup for my location WEST. As you can see, there are no WMS features enabled. Therefore, I can receive and put away items from the purchase order.


To receive and put away items from the purchase order, update the Quantity to Receive field. The field's value defaults to the value in the Quantity field. You can always receive less than the quantity ordered and the rest later.


If the location has bins, we can enter the put-away bin in the purchase line. You might need to personalise the page as the field bin is typically hidden. I don't use bins in the location WEST. Therefore, I choose to leave this field blank.


Once the purchase order line is updated with the correct quantity to receive and bin code - if in use - we can receive and put away the item using the post function in the document menu and choose the option Receive to receive items. I will cover purchase invoicing in another post.

Given that no posting restrictions exist, for example, limited permissions or required lot numbers, the line is received, and no further action is required. (More on lot numbers in this post: The Complete Guide to Lot Numbers (businesscentralsolutiondesign.com).


The purchase line is updated, and the field Quantity Received shows the updated value.

Post the receipt and put away from an inventory put-away document

The next level of complexity that Business Central can handle is a two-step process for receiving and putting away items.


Companies choose this method for various reasons:

  1. Segregation of duties: Users receiving items don't need access to the purchase order.

  2. Compliance: Receiving items through warehouse documents eliminates the risk of changing purchase documents by mistake.

  3. Automation and warehouse rules to choose the correct bin for the items received

This method requires setting up the location as follows:


Require Put-away is enabled, and I also have Bin Mandatory, which is optional, but I always recommend having bins when using put-aways.


Another setup required now that we have enabled the first level of WMS complexity is warehouse employees. Users working with Put-aways must be set up as warehouse employees to access warehouse documents.


The last necessary setup is to enable the number series for inventory put-aways and registered put-aways. This is done on the Warehouse Setup page. (Use this link to open the page in Business Central).


The process of receiving and putting away items from an inventory put away can start with the purchase order or an inventory put-away document. Let's look at the two processes one by one:


Receive Items from a Purchase Order

In the purchase order, choose Create Inventory Put-away/ Pick in the Process action group.


In the next screen, choose Create Inventory Put-Away; you will see a filter on the warehouse request that is already linked to the purchase document.


Click OK, and the inventory putaway is created.


Start from a blank Inventory Put-away

The other way to receive items using an inventory put away is to start from a blank inventory put away and pull down the purchase order lines. Companies use this method when they don't want warehouse personnel to access the purchase document.


Search for the page Inventory Put-aways, open the list page link and click on + New to create a new document.


A new inventory put away is created. The location code will automatically apply to the document if you are set up as a warehouse employee and have a default location. Click on the Source Document field, choose Purchase Order, and then click on Source No. To find the purchase order to receive and put away.


A selection page will show a list of purchase documents.


Select the purchase order you need to receive, and all the lines from the document will be pulled down in the inventory put-away.

NOTE: The link between the warehouse and source document is always at line level. If a purchase order has lines with multiple location codes, these will not be pulled down into the inventory put-away. Orders containing lines with multiple location codes require one warehouse document per each location.


There are many functionalities that we can run on an inventory put-away. More in future posts.


The next step in receiving and putting away items is to select a bin in the putaway lines. This action is similar to what was described in the previous paragraph, where a bin code is added to the purchase line.


Once we confirm the bin and the quantity to handle (not the quantity to receive like in the purchase line), we can post the inventory put away. Here we decide to receive only. I will discuss purchase invoicing in another post.


Setup rules to automatically assign bins to put-away lines

What if you don't want to type the bin number in the warehouse document? We can enable rules to populate the bin codes automatically. To do that, we need to use the Bin Content Creation Worksheet.


The prerequisite to this feature is creating a dedicated bin content creation template and batch for the selected location.


First, search for the page Bin Creation Worksheet Templates (Or use this link to open the page in Business Central). Then, select the template with the type Bin Content and open the Names page.


In the worksheet name page, you should have one row for each location where you want to use bin rules for replenishment, put-away and picks.


Once the setup is done, open the Bin Content Creation Worksheet to set up rules. In this example, we will only look at the receipt and put away rules even though this page allows rules for other activities like replenishment and picks.


In the picture below, you can see how I set up my item. Bin A01B is set up as the default bin for item 1900-S.


The last step to implement this rule is to use the action Create Bin Content. This action name is quite misleading. We are not creating any content like putting away items in bins. We are simply "saving" the rule.



This happens in Business Central when I create an inventory put-away now that the rule exists. I received 34 pieces of item 1900-s, and the put-away created has bin A01B in the line.


Receive multiple purchase orders in one consolidated warehouse document

We have seen how inventory put-aways are excellent for receiving items from a source document. However, this warehouse document has a limitation: the one-to-one relationship with the source document. As such, we can only use one inventory put-away per each purchase order.


While this can be optimal for companies with simple inbound processes, companies that receive multiple orders in one shipment can use a different warehouse document type to receive items—the warehouse receipt.


The warehouse receipt document is similar to the inventory put-away but with a few significant differences. A warehouse receipt has a one-to-many relationship with the source document. This allows the receipt of multiple purchase orders into one consolidated document; for example when receiving shipping containers through a groupage transport service.


To enable warehouse receipts in a location, set the field Require Receive in the warehouse tab.

Another feature becomes available when require receipt is enabled—the recept bin. The receipt bin is a default place where all the lines of the warehouse receipt will be placed when we receive the items.


The rules created using the bin content creation worksheet do not apply to this setup. Let's see how this functionality works in my location LIV where I have set up a bin code LBAY01 (loading bay 01) as my receipt bin.


To create a new warehouse receipt, search for the warehouse receipt page and click New to create a new document. The new document looks similar to an inventory put-away with some differences:

  • There is a zone and a bin code in the document header

  • New fields Assigned User ID and Sorting Method are available

  • The fields related to a source document are not available

The main difference between an inventory put away and a warehouse receipt is that the first is designed to receive and put away lines from one order. In contrast, the warehouse document can handle multiple documents in one task.

Once the new warehouse receipt is created, click on Get Source Documents to see the list of pending receipts in the selected location to get the list of documents to be received.


The list will show released purchase orders with lines for my location LIV. We can select all or some of the documents in the list, and when we click OK, the warehouse document lines will be populated.


The Loading Bay 01 bin is copied to the document lines. Unlike the inventory put-away, the are no rules to default items to specific bins in a warehouse receipt. Users can always change bin codes by line (This can be blocked using permissions).


When we change the bin code in the receipt line, BC shows if the bin is empty and which bin is the default for the item.

How can we move items from the loading bay into another bin? With this setup, which most consultants call "basic WMS", we can move items received into a storage bin using an internal movement document.


We can use the Get Bin Content functionality in the internal inventory movement page to find the items in the loading bay and move each item into a specific bin. In this example, I choose A01B as the bin in my document header, but I change the bin for item 1928-S to A02A.


Note the fields From Bin Code and To Bin Code in the document lines. I will cover inventory movements in another post.

Another difference between the inventory put-away and the warehouse receipt is that there is no "receive and invoice" option in a warehouse receipt. We can only receive items. The invoicing of the purchase document must happen afterwards.


Post receipt from a warehouse receipt document and post put-away from a warehouse put-away document

For some companies with complex warehouse operations, the receiving and put-away steps must be separate. For example, a container is received in a loading bay, and afterwards, its content is inspected and put away.


In this case, we can enable additional complexity in the inbound process, by making the warehouse receipt and the put-away required in the inbound process.


We can enable both documents for our inbound process method; the put-away document we will use is not an inventory put-away. With the setup below, we will use a warehouse put-away. First, let's look at the setup:


The fields Require Receive and Require Put-Away are now enabled in my location LIV. Once both fields are enabled, another feature becomes available, the put-away worksheet.


First, let's see how the process works without the put-away worksheet being disabled.


Now that both documents are required, the first step is to create a warehouse receipt. I have two purchase orders for the same location LIV, and I used the functionality Get Source Documents to populate the warehouse receipt lines. This is the result:


After I post the warehouse shipment, the items are received in the LBAY01 bin. The main difference with this setup is that Business Central will now create the document to move all the items from the loading bay to their default bin. This document is the Warehouse Put-away document.


This is the confirmation message I get when I post (receive) the warehouse document of the example above:


Two source documents were posted because the warehouse receipt included lines from two purchase orders. One put-away activity was also created automatically.


Let's take a closer look at the put-away activity: search for the page Warehouse Put-aways (or click this link to open the page in Business Central)


This is the put-away created when I posted the warehouse receipt.


The main differences between an Inventory Put-away and a Warehouse Put-away are as follows:

  • Many-to-one relationship to the source document. All the purchase order lines posted with the warehouse receipt exist in the put-away lines.

  • Two lines for each source document are created. A Take and a Place action mean we take the items received from the loading bay and place them in their default bin.

Use Put-away Worksheet

The put-away worksheet allows users to create warehouse put-aways manually after posting the warehouse receipt. This might be required if the company wants to create more than one put-away from a single warehouse receipt or one put-away from multiple warehouse receipts.


For example, suppose some items require special handling or are stored in a dedicated warehouse area, although received in the same container. In that case, warehouse personnel might decide to create separate put-aways.


A warehouse worksheet template and a worksheet name for the specific location must exist to use the put-away worksheet. Open the page Warehouse Worksheet Templates (or click this link to open the page in Business Central) and create a new template name for the location. The page should look like the picture below.


The put-away worksheet is a simple page that allows pulling down posted warehouse receipt document lines on the page.


From the worksheet page, the action Get Warehouse Documents allows selecting one or more posted warehouse receipts into the worksheet.


We can select one or more posted warehouse receipts for the worksheet. In this example, I have four lines from two posted receipts. I can choose Create Put-Away from the page menu and tell Business Central to create the put-away or put-aways from the two warehouse receipts.


The are many options to control what will be included in the warehouse put-away. The simplest is to create one put-away for all the lines in the worksheet.


We can delete lines from the worksheet which will not be included in the put-away. Also, we can put away part of what was received by updating the field Qty. to Handle field.


Full WMS, Directed Put-away and pick and the Put-away template

We covered the most complex inbound process method for receiving items in Business Central. With such complexity, more features become available to support users with rules and automation to make the most of the WMS module.


With Directed Put-away and pick, we enable many features, including tools for shipments, picks, bin replenishment and receipts. The most important functionalities for the inbound process are the put-away template, bin types and quantities in the bin content creation worksheet and bin capacity.


The Put-away template

The put-away template is a list of actions Business Central will perform to identify the best bin in a warehouse put-away line.


The put-away template field in the location card allows the selection of one put-away template. However, the same field exists in the item card because different put-away rules might apply to specific items.


Below you can see the rules of the default template in my sandbox.


The lines in the template are arranged logically, describing what I want Business Central to do when a new put-away line is created. This is what happens in detail:

  1. First, it should try to find a fixed bin for the item set up with the same unit of measure but for which the quantity is below the minimum quantity - a bin to replenish. If it cannot find any bin, the second rule will apply.

  2. It will find a fixed bin setup with the same unit of measure that is empty.

  3. If no bin is found, the third line will ensure that any empty fixed bin should be used.

  4. The fourth rule says to find a bin where the same item is already stored, even if it's not the fixed bin.

  5. Lastly, if no bin is found, use any bin with enough capacity - volume and weight - to store the item.

We define bin rules using the bin content creation worksheet:


Bin types, maximum quantities and bin ranking - More tools in the Bin Content Creation Worksheet

The put-away template allows rules on quantities and units of measure because we can set up these rules using the bin content creation worksheet. We can add additional details to the bin content with directed put-away and picks. Let's look at these rules:

  • Fixed bin:

The bin or bins where the item should be stored. Unlike the default bin used with simple WMS that I covered earlier, with directed put-away and pick, we can assign more than one fixed bin to an item.

  • Minimum and maximum quantity by item, bin and unit of measure.

We can set up rules about quantity for bins and items. These rules work on the put-away template and for bin replenishment through the movement worksheet. (More in another post)

  • Bin type

The bin type determines the type of movement allowed on specific bins. For example, I cannot put away items in a bin setup for picks only.


In the example below, I set up my item 1928-S to three fixed bins. Bin B01A can take a maximum of three pallets and can be empty. Bin B01B can also take a maximum of three pallets, but I want to keep at least one pallet there so that my put-away template will prioritise this bin when I receive stock if I have no inventory.


Lastly, in bin C01A, I want to store the item in pieces for loose picking. More on picking in other posts.


The main benefit of this setup is that Business Central will split the line to respect the rules on quantities when creating a put-away. The logic in the putaway template and the bin content will do the rest.


Here is a purchase order received as one line for five pallets of item 1928-S.


After creating the bin content above, Business Central will create a put-away with two place lines when I post the receipt for the five pallets.


As expected, the first put-away line points to bin B01B because the first rule of the put-away template is to find the fixed bin with less than the minimum quantity. It places only three pallets in that bin because it has reached the maximum. According to the second rule, the remaining three pallets go to bin B01A, which is also a fixed bin and is empty.

Bin capacity on receipt and put away

The last functionality enabled with directed put-away and pick is the ability to set up each bin's volume and weight capacity.


Weight and volume are assigned to the bin on the bin list page.

Closing thoughts

Business Central can handle complex inbound process methods. However, the ability to handle complexity does not mean that having complex processes is inevitable or even recommended.


Simplification of business processes should always be a priority for any organisation. When complexity is inevitable, a system like Business Central can help.


Regards

Alfredo

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