The new Warehouse management system in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 introduces the concept of Containers. Containers represent the physical structure in which products are packed during shipping, and you can keep track of the container information in the system. This can be useful during transportation planning, especially in the case where shipping charges are calculated based on containers. You can see the number of containers that are used in a shipment, the types of containers that are used, and physical dimensions such as total volume, weight, and so on, prior to shipping.
The system provides a packing process that allows you to validate and pack products into containers. In this process, warehouse workers pick products from the storage locations and move them to packing station where they check the item quantities and types, and assign them to appropriate containers. When a container is fully packed, they can close it and move it to the outbound docks, and the products are ready for shipping.
How to set up packing
The following setups are required to enable the packing process.
Figure 1. Location profile (Warehouse management > Setup > Warehouse setup > Location profiles)
A location profile used for packing stations must be created. The location profile contains a variety of information and rules for a location. For more information, see Set up packing and container closing profiles for manual pack process.
Figure 2 Warehouse parameters (Warehouse management > Setup > Warehouse parameters)
On the Packing tab, in the Profile ID for packing location field, you must select the location profile that you want to use for packing.
Figure 3 Container types (Warehouse management > Setup > Containers > Container types)
Define the types of containers that you use. You can specify the physical dimensions of the container, including Tare weight, Maximum weight, Maximum volume, Length, Width, and Height.
The Attributes are customized fields that allow you to add extra dimensions on the container type. You define these attributes in Warehouse management > Setup > Containers > Container attributes.
Figure 4 Packing profiles (Warehouse management > Setup > Packing > Packing profiles)
Packing profiles let you configure a packing process for each packing operation that you use. The following list describes the fields in the Packing profiles form.
Container closing profile ID: (Optional) The default close container profile for this packing profile.
Container ID mode: Determines whether a container ID is automatically generated when a container is created or you create them manually.
Container type: (Optional) The container type that is used by default when creating a new container.
Autocreate container at container close: Create a container automatically during the close container process.
Container closing profiles
Figure 5 Close container profile (Warehouse management > Setup > Packing > Close container profile)
Container closing profiles define what happens when a container is closed. You can set up multiple close container profiles. The following list provides information about the fields in the Container closing profiles form.
Manifest at: Specify whether manifesting will occur when closing containers or when confirming the shipment. Note that manifesting is a process that requires that you are also using Transportation management. The logic for manifesting must be implemented in the transportation engines in order for it work.
Default location for final shipment: Select a final shipping location. This will be location to which products will be moved after the containers are closed. Note this location must have a location profile that is of the type defined on Warehouse parameters, under General > Location types > Final shipping location type.
Figure 6 Work users (Warehouse management > Setup > Work users > Worker)
Optionally, you can also assign a container profile and close container profile to a work user. These will be used by default for the worker who is assigned to the work user. This will enable the worker to sign in to the packing station. The packing profile determines the packing process that the worker will perform.
The following example describes the packing workflow for a sales order. Please note that the manual packing feature currently do not support transfer orders.
Move products to packing location
A sales order is created.
Work is created through a wave that has the packing station as the put location. Here, we assume the location directives and work templates are set up so that the items will be moved to a packing location when the picking work is completed.
Warehouse worker uses a mobile device to pick the items and move them to the packing location.
Create a container and pack items
Warehouse management > Common > Pack
1. The work user responsible for packing opens the Pack form. A packing profile is automatically displayed if it has been defined for the work user.
2. To start the packing process, the work user enters the shipment ID or the license plate number that is associated with the shipment.
After that, information about the shipment, customer, order details, and so on, is displayed on the form, like below.
The items that remain to be packed are shown on the Open lines tab. All of the items included in this shipment are shown on the All lines tab.
3. Click New button on the Pack form to create a new container.
A New container dialog pops up (figure 10) asking for a container ID and container type.
The container ID and container type will be auto-generated if it is set up on the container profile. Otherwise you must enter a container ID.
4. After a container is created, you can start packing the items.
In the Pack form, in the Pack item section, select the item and enter the quantity to pack. By default, the quantity is 1 if you do not enter a value. There are a couple of ways to do this, as follows:
You can select the item in the drop-down list. When you select the item, the item is automatically packed. The packed quantity increases and the remaining quantity decreases by one. You don’t have to click the Pack button to confirm the packing. This minimizes the number clicks required to pack an item.
You can enter a quantity in the Quantity field, and then select the item. The quantity that you enter is packed.
You can also type the item number. If you type the number, you must either click the Pack button or click on another field to pack the item. If you want to enter a quantity, you must specify the quantity before you enter the item.
When packing product variations, a dialog is displayed where you can select product dimensions, such as color or size. (Correction, it is not possible to verify batch ID when packing.)
While items are being packed, the Quantity packed and Quantity remaining columns are updated on the item lines. When a line is completely packed, it will be removed from the Open lines tab. It, however, can still be viewed on the All lines tab.
In each packing action, the system validates the total item weight inside the container against the maximum allowed weight of the container. These are specified for the container on the container type. If it exceeds the limit, the system will prevent the item from being packed into the container and displays an error. However, the system does not validate other physical dimensions such as volume, width, height, length. This allows flexibility during packing, so you can accommodate situations where you can adjust these dimensions on the product. For example, a packer might be able to squeeze the items into the container although the volume exceeds the nominal value.
The fields at the bottom of the form (figure 13) are updated as items are packed, as follows:
Total containers: The total number of containers on the shipment.
Total quantity: The total quantity of the items in the current container.
Total weight: The total weight of the current container.
Total items: The number of different items in the current container.
At any time during packing, you can view and modify all containers created for the shipment by clicking the Available containers button on the Pack form. The Containers form is displayed (figure 14), where you can perform the following actions:
Adjust the item quantity in a container. Unpacked items will update on the Pack form to be packed again.
Delete empty containers.
Re-open closed containers.
Reverse the manifest.
When a container is fully packed, it can then be closed. Closing a container will prevent any additional items from being packed into the container. The close container process moves items to the final shipping location and the items are ready for shipping.
The close container process can be performed as part of the packing process from the Pack form by clicking the Close button on the action pane after a container is full. The Close container dialog is then displayed (figure 15), where you can enter the weight, select the final shipping location for the products, and enter the total weight.
The weight can either be calculated automatically by using Get system weight, which sums up the total item weight plus the container tare weight; or you can enter it manually in a situation where the container is weighed individually.
Alternatively, you can separate the container closing process from the packing and close all containers after packing. For example, if you have several open containers that are being packed, and want to close the containers only after all the products have been packed. In this case, you can do the following:
- Open the Close container form under Warehouse management > Common > Container close (figure 16).
- Select a work user, container closing profile, and the container.
- Enter a weight or click Use system weight.
- Click close.
Note: you can also perform other tasks when you close containers. The following are some examples:
Rate and manifest containers. (The transportation engine must support the specific carrier that was implemented. Note that this requires that you are also using Transportation management.)
Print the contents of the container and the packing slip for the shipment. This can be done from either the Containers form or the Close container form by clicking Print and selecting either shipment packing slip or container contents.
Please note, that the Warehouse management in R3 also comes with an automated packing functionality called Containerization. For information regarding this feature, please refer to the post Introduction to Containerization – Automated packing process in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 or the MSDN article Set up containerization. It is worth noting that the manual packing process and containerization process are meant for two different workflows in the system. Containers created from containerization process cannot be used or modified in manual packing process described above, that is, you will not be able to pack items into these containers through the Pack form, re-open or change item quantities inside etc.