Of items, assets, inventory and consumables

Hello there, ERPNext users and mighty developers of this wonderful program. I want to thank developers, I am so excited, you deed such a huge job and sharing your work with people! THANK YOU!
I am at the very beginning of exploring of ERPNext, but just cant stand to express how grateful I am, sorry for this long intro :slight_smile:

So, My first questions are about asset and items theory.

  1. Assets computers, furnitures, cars, etc.
  2. Items company’s product or a service

So, Assets are the tools used to produce, and items in ERPNext terms are a product. Right?
Why then Asset is an Item of some item type? I agree, if I produce computers, then my product might become my asset, but it’s a rare thing, isn’t it? Items have variants, serial numbers, brands. And assets have only maintenance settings. I am missing the point.

I need to add fixed assets - cnc machines and tools like electrical grinders, their parts (motors, gears, etc) and their consumables (like grinding discs, drillbits and etc.). Machines must have serial numbers, maintenance, and appropriate parts. Tools are of few manufacturers, different models with unique serial numbers. Parts depend on manufacturer and model. Tools are loaned to workers and must be returned. Consumables are consumables that must be used for some project. I just can’t get the right structure in ERPNext way.

As I understood - I need to separately create item of item type of… asset type and… create an asset of an item… Some kind of a mishmash in my head. Why not make it separate? Assets are assets of asset type with their properties. And items are of item type with their own properties. What I am missing?

Sorry for such noob questions :slight_smile:

Hello, and welcome to the forum.

Creating an Item in ERPNext corresponding to an asset category (e.g. computer) allows you to easily record purchase and sale of the asset using the respective invoices. The alternative of not creating an Item would mean you’d have to manually record a journal entry for handling purchase / sale of the asset.

Creating an Asset allows you to record specific details of each asset and takes care of depreciation, maintenance, etc.

Hope this helps.

Thank you for clarifying that. But what about serial numbers? Where and how they must be set? I see it only in Item options. And tutorials didn’t make it clearer. I need to loan and repair machines and tools by their serial number, but asset doesn’t have serial number property and Items name and group isn’t enough to . And writing in the name of every Item - manufacturer, model and serial number (to identify it in asset list) - is an overhead I think. Hm. It looks like this part needs a hard rewrite for my needs.

And here I come to a new dilemma - Everything in ERPNext satisfies my needs (for now :slight_smile:) except Asset module. Frappe framework tells me that I need to create a separate Asset app, install it to my site alongside with bench and erpnext, but how do I override existing ERPNext Asset module? (Because if I just fork ERPNext I might break further updates).

Oh, and what happens to customized doctype after update? So many questions… But thank you all for this great framework

You can simply create a custom field for the serial no, or even better, contribute to the core repository. You will be creating an new document for each asset so a simple field should do.

You needn’t. Wherever possible, it’s a better option to contribute to the core software where it can benefit other users as well.

Contributing to the core should be done only when it is ready for wider public. When it’s a spare time prototype - it will only break everything :slight_smile: And I am on exploring stage, first I need to understand what and why and how is done right now. Later I will start experimenting. For now there’s nothing to share, only thoughts and questions.

For now, what I think - asset must have an inventory number, name, manufacturers name, model, serial number, owner company - all of this from item properties, and it’s own custodian, loan person, all properties it has now for maintenance, and, preferably, spare parts list of items that can be ordered. Spare parts depends on model, so here I am not sure, should it be taken from item, or item group is better source? And assets could be created from selected item in item list with all needed fields autofilled. Oh, and as a qonsequence - employees has to have a list of loaned assets with possibility to claim to an employee or his company in case of a break or stolen assets.

Can I use this topic as my public notebook? People could add their thoughts, and maybe someday I (or someone more experienced) will implement tis.

Ok. Moving further.

Items, item groups, item variants, serial numbers.
I can’t organize my assets until I manage Item problems. Maybe it’s only for my usecase it’s a problem, but Item properties and capabilities doesn’t look logical to me.
Item (for example I’ll take a grinder) can be from different suppliers, manufacturers, each manufacturer has different model, each of them has it’s own serial number.
But what I can do in ERPNext?

  1. Can I duplicate items with set manufacturers and models and only change serial number? No. Totally wrong way, all data must be entered by hand and there is no template.
  2. Can I set Item variants with all settings needed? Yes and no.
  • I can set Manufacturer variant property,I can set Models in variant property,
  • but I can’t set Supplier in Variants, it will be completely separate from real suppliers
  • and setting Serial number in variant properties - is wrong. (It can be done, but it’s wrong) Variant properties not meant to be used that way. When I choose to make a new Single Variant from a template I can’t add a new serial number property. It must be predefined. Second problem is that Items already has their own property Serial Number and not using that field is misleading and… wrong at some point.

Item templates and variants are making things easier, by automatically managing data and names, but not as efficiently as I thought.

And, again, is it me doing it wrong, or it just not meant to be used that way?
A lot of questions :slight_smile:

Look at Item Groups. It may be that you need to use them to generalize the Items somewhat , for example:


It might also be helpful to describe the nature of the business that you are thinking of using ERPNext. That might elicit some response from users with similar use cases.

Sorry for long delay

My “nature of the business” pretty sorrowful. I am trying to make an order in metal working company, where chaos has occupied everything. First I need to set asset/maintenance management to get my hands untied, next expand to employees, and so on.

No, your example won’t work as I want.

  1. If you set this pretty chart in Item group three, you won’t see any useful info in item or asset lists, just some item with unusual name (what would you place as name of Item, by the way?) and, Dewalt item group, or Angle item group. Not informative.
  2. Another problem is that Dewalt (or any other manufacturer) has many types of tools, if you group like you deed - you can’t set drill group with same (let it be Dewalt) manufacturer group.
  3. Or if I set Manufacturer as a head of group, and his children as tool type, then I can’t have grinders of Bosh and grinders of Dewalt, names must be unique.

In any case, I have 3 or 5 or 10 or 100 tools of the same manufacturer of the same model and only serial number differs. How can I store them in Items list? Grinder1, grinder2 etc.? nononono…

What first I need to identify an Asset? Type, subtype (optionally), manufacturer, model, serial number, person that owns it now, state (good to scrap), those are common, everything else is more or less individual. And Asset must be fixed, returned to warehouse, scraped, sold, or requested a new one. Simple as a pie.

I don’t see a clear structure at this point in ERPNext. Item groups are useful only to specify common types, their hierarchy is invisible to the manager that will work with it. And again, names MUST be unique, so you will not be able to have grinder davalt and drill dewalt, because dewalt already exists in grinder group.

In that case I’ve returned to Item Variants and Variant options. It’s bad, that I can’t just use Manufacturer list as Variant options, and it’s bad that I can’t just enter any data in Variant option (as it is possible in any other field, when you create new employee, new asset, new order, anything but new variant) while creating new Item from template, because serial number is unique and can’t be predefined .

Sorry, maybe my writing not making it clearer, hard to find right words.

I asked a similar question some time ago and the response was deafening. I think it isn’t so much a failing of ERPNext , rather a an existential question of how it can be best done in a particular case. And there may be more than one correct answer. I think it might be best to sketch out what the ideal would be in practice , how you want it to look and feel, give some examples of how users and processes will react with the data - maybe you can distill something from that.

It may be that ERPNext tries to be too many things at once, however the Frappe framework might provide some opportunity to develop something on your own.