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Projects:Referenced Inventory/Functional Specification


Functional Requirements

Objectives and Definition

Many companies move and store goods grouped in a RollTainer, Case or Box. The generic term for these is container and includes any kind of object that can contain goods however for user-friendliness we will use the term box.

These movements can be inside a warehouse or between warehouses, and even between warehouses of cooperating business partners. The boxes may be reusable or may be disposable and have different sizes and purposes and are suitable for different types of goods. This is the use-case of Shared References as explained below. At the same time it is relevant to identify goods that are measured in a Natural Unit like mass or length, when we want to talk about a specific example of this product. This is the use-case of Unique References as explained below.

In both use-cases, identifying a product or a group of products by a single scan, and functionality that allows to create/clear the box or add/remove goods to/from that box, facilitates enormously the handling of products while avoiding the typical errors from human intervention.

Definition: Referenced Inventory is the functionality that identifies one or multiple storage details (Stock records) by using a "Reference Number". The Reference Number can have two distinct uses as illustrated below:

Reference Types

Shared References Unique References

Shared References: Multiple Storage Details can have a Reference number that is shared with other Storage Details.

Containers / boxes that are used in the Shared Reference variant, come in different formats and have different purposes and life-cycles.

Scanning the Reference will identify the list of Storage Details. In this case the scanned 'object' can be a roll-cage, box or pallet with a variety of products and quantities for further distribution.

Unique References: A Storage Detail can (optionally) have a reference number, and this reference number is not re-used in other storage details.
Unique Reference numbers can be used as method for Catch Weight, when product has a Base Unit of Measure in weight but specific storage details can have different weight.

Scanning the Reference will point to only one Storage Detail and uniquely identify it. Unique References are used to identify a specific good and distingish it from another good that looks the same but might have different weight, lot, expiry date etcetera.

Compare Shared References to SSCC:

Part of the functionality of the Reference Number is also known as the SSCC Serial Shipping Container Code. While the SSCC is mainly focussed on logistical identification and handling in distribution between business partners (For instance, the SSCC# is present in EDI / ASN), the functionality of the Reference Number not only includes these inter-warehouse logistics but also covers the intra-warehouse logistics that facilitates logistical identification and handling between bins within a warehouse.

Compare Unique References to Price lookup Code:

In Openbravo Advanced Warehousing, the functionality of Unique References / Catch Weight is implicitely included in the way how Attributes are handled. All attribute values are scanneable from the front-end and attributes can be defined to represent the Unique Reference. Moreover, the most common way in Retail to deal with this functionality is through Price Lookup Code (PLU) which is also supported in the Openbravo Commerce Suite.

Compare Unique References to Serial Number:

The Reference number is functionally different fom a Serial Number in the sense that a reference number only exists during the life-time inside the warehouse or between warehouses in the distrubution process: It has no value once it has been shipped to a customer or other third party. A specific Storage Detail in a distribution chain can very well have different Reference Numbers when it was in different warehouses. In contrast, a serial number or lot/batch number identifies the stock during its complete life-time, regardless if it just was manufactured, already distributed and awaiting a customer or sold and perhaps requested a repair or service. Reference numbers and serial/lot number can co-exist as they serve different purposes.


Advanced Warehouse Operations

Limited to Shared References

Occupancy of bins

Boxing and Unboxing

Move and Put-Away

Clear Reference



  1. There will be only one transaction that can add or clear a reference number to/from a Storage Detail. This will be implemented with a new column Reference in the AttributeSet.
  2. It will not be mandatory to assign a AttributeSet to a product: Stock from products that have no AttributeSet assigned, will still have an attribute set instance that will be used by the Reference if-and-when that stock is boxed.
  3. A specific Reference Number can only be present in one bin, not in multiple bins at the same time.

Story Boards

The different flows are being explained, including error messages, in the sequences below. For a concentrated view, the story-boards below can serve.

Flow Step-1 Step-2 Step-3 Step-4 Step-5 Step-6 Step-7
Boxing (front-end) -> Choose/Create Box (BXI-TR)
From the Front-End, press the button "Box" and move on.
Then the default popup to chose or create a new Box is shown.
The system will recognize the RefID if it exists and fill Ref-Type and Bin.
...or a new box is created and the system generates the RefID...
AWO-Front-End-BoxRefID-3-NewGen-RefType.png which case the RefType and Bin must be declared.
...or a new box is created with a given RefID.
When all is entered, pressing OK will create the RefID/Box.
Boxing (front-end) -> Adding products (BXI-TR)
After having created the RefID / box (see above) the box and type is shown.
Products can be added by scanning them into the box.
Here a second product is scanned and now in the box.
And products can also be added by selecting them from the list.
Boxing (back-end) (BXP-TR) AWO-Back-End-WhseOps-with-RI.png From the Back-End one or multiple -not referenced- Storage Details can be selected before pressing the Box button.
The selection is shown on the 'select&execute' screen and the quantities can be changed.
Choose the Reference Type here and move on.
Three boxing tasks to be executed: One with known RefID, one with known RefType and one where the box RefType and RefID are unknown.
Here the content of a box is shown. Nothing can be editted.
Unboxing (back-end) (BXO-TR)
From the Back-End one or multiple -referenced- Storage Details can be selected before pressing the UnBox button.
The selection is shown on the 'select&execute' screen and the quantities can be changed.
The UnBox tasks are show on the front-end of the selected operator.
(delayed) Move or Put-away a Box (back-end) (PUT-BX, MOV-BX)
From the Back-End one or multiple -referenced- Storage Details can be selected before pressing the Move or Put-Away button.
The selection is shown per box! on the 'select&execute' screen and the quantities canNOT be changed.
The Move/Put-Away tasks are shown on the front-end of the selected operator.
The Content of the box can be made visible/hidden with the buttons View/Hide.
(delayed) Put-away a Box (front-end) (PUT-BX, MOV-BX)
From the Front-End, press the button "Put-Away".
The selector shows the boxes that are available...
...and allows to select one or multiple. Subsequently the tasks are generated and assigned to the operator.
Pick from Box
Picking from a Box will show the Reference ID. Regardless if the Routing is configured with "Remove Reference"=true, the Reference will be removed.

New Entity: Reference Types

There are different types and sizes of boxes and containers so when creating a new Reference (container/box), the type must be chosen and the Reference must refer to the Reference Type.

The Reference Type has the following charateristics:

New Window: Reference Inventory Type

New window Referenced Inventory

New Inventory Transaction Type: "BXI-TR" Box-In transaction

This functionality will allow to create a new box from the Front-End and add one/multiple product(s) to it, as well as adding product to an already existing box.

New Inventory Transaction Type: "BXP-TR" Box-In Planned transaction

This functionality will allow to create a new box from the Back-End by selecting one or multiple Storage details, and optionally assign the tasks to an operator.

Creation of Reference Number

Change to Task entity: Column Expected Reference and ConfirmedReferenceTask

New Inventory Transaction Type: "BXO-TR" Box-Out transaction

This functionality will allow to unbox a single or multiple Storge Detail that have a Reference ID.

Change Inventory Transaction Type: "PUT-TR" Multiple Goods movements by Reference/Box

The existing PUT-TR will be used to move boxes with all its content. When the system detects that the selected Storage Detail is referenced, it will check if all related Storage Details are selected and will issue an error if not. If all related Storage details are selected, the tasks will be generated with the "Behave-as-Group" flag set to true, so that the Front-End treats the tasks as a single box.

Changes to the window Warehouse Operations

It is important that the Warehouse Operations window remains the center of stock visibility and manipulation, also for referenced inventory.

Changes to warehouse put-away algorithms

Changes to Occupancy calculation

Effect on other Inventory Transaction Types

Change to Routing definition and Task Confirmation Process

MTR/VMA 7/feb/2018: The below "AddRef" is under discussion / to be reviewed. Note: We think that the "Add Ref" functionality will be surpassed by the AWO-roadmap project "Subsequent ITT" that can execute a movement activity with a boxing activity (or any other ITT) in serial-mode, whereas the "Add Ref" implies the parallel execution of two movements. We foresee complications in the UI and real-life operation and for now have decided to park the "Add Ref" functionality until further notice.

New Processes on AWO Front-End

Other changes

Technical Documentation

See this wiki for the technical documentation of Referenced Inventory.

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