Same item but different lengths?

I am trying to figure out the best way to track item quantities. Here is my situation. We do electrical work and will have to deal with different lengths of cable.

Example: We purchase 1000ft of a specific cable for a job, but we only use 900ft of that cable, 100ft comes back to our shop. We then purchase 250ft of the same cable, but 50ft comes back to the shop. How can I show that I have a 100ft piece of cable, and a 50ft piece of cable in stock without adding them together?

Reasoning: I would like to see under that cable item what continuous lengths we have available. Perhaps they can add up to an overall length of cable for inventory purposes, but they can be viewed as individual “cuts” within the item quantity. I don’t want a situation where someone looks at the item and sees there is a 150ft in stock, but doesn’t realize its not a continuous length of cable.

I hope this makes sense…
Thank You!


Could the cable have Item Variants that are have a length attribute, and then be manufactured or transferred via a BOM/ material transfer from the bulk Item master? The UOM for the variant would be Unit, for the Master, feet.

I would then end up with potentially hundreds of variant items over time due to the different lengths of leftover cable, is this the cleanest way to approach this? What about batches, could a batch number be used to identify the different “cuts” or lengths of cable? I’m still reading up on batch function…


Without creating a bolt-on App, or modifying the code, I think batches are the path of least ohms resistance.

You could have an Item for 10 gauge copper wire. The stock unit of measure = feet.

  • Batch A, quantity 900 = 900 feet of wire.
  • Batch B, quantity, 100 = 100 feet of wire.
  • Batch C, quantity, 50 = 50 feet of wire.

If you ran a Stock Report at the warehouse level, your total quantity would be the total length of 10 gauge wire (1,050 feet). The number of Batch ID’s would be your quantity of continuous lengths. And to find the largest continuous length, you would sort by the Batch holding the greatest stock quantity.

By performing actions with Stock Entries (Transfer, Repack, Manufacture) you could model doing things like cutting wires, creating premade assemblies and bundles, etc.


I have played around with this in my test environment and from what I can see, this solution (the batch idea) is working flawlessly so far.

Thank you for the responses!

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As recommended batch will work for you.
On PO receipt of new roll you have to give a batch number.
Once consumed remaining qty will get another batch number when returned and so on.
Similarly you can use serial number concept.
In this case every roll identified separately.
Difference between batch and serial number:
If you manage to transact by batch a qty of 10 of same item all 10 units can get same batch number or separate batch number, system accept both figure.
But for serial number you have to give 10 serial numbers is a must.

Hope it’s clear.

Hey @jeff6872

Same situation here, trying to figure how to input a roll of Romex 250ft and using only say 150, how did you manage to do it? Are you creating item for every new roll of wire or is it variants? how do you keep track of the leftovers? If this model works, can it be applied to say jboxes, panels, breakers, virtually anything else?

Thank you sir!

I have not done anything with the purchasing (POs, etc). Using batches for each reel of cable we receive seems to be working well to track that “cut” of cable from the time it comes in, until its completely gone. Using the batch allows me to see a total quantity of a certain type of cable, but then when you drill into the batches you can see the lengths of cable available that make up the total.


so you’re only leveraging the stock and the ledger by a simple input of items w/ batch, you guys don’t track the purchases? Or am I getting smth wrong.

My dilemma I guess is: Today we purchase a roll of romex 250ft. then tomorrow 150 is being used and 100 is now leftover in the van. Is it that when purchasing the roll, we create an item and add the batch number? And now this, you know there are 25, 50 100 and 250 ft rolls of the same thing! Its blowing my mind, I am up on the internet 3 days now cant seem to find any reasonable approach. Would I also need to use parts of manufacturing? Seems unreasonable to me, in a service type business.

Correct, at the present time I am in a transition from QB which stinks for tracking materials unless you have a very simple business. What I really needed was a way to get our inventory under control because I really had no idea what we even have.

I am only using the stock module to simply track items, quantity of those items, and batches. This also gives us a relative value of all the stock too.

We deal with many different sizes, colors and types of special electrical cables. When we order cable, many times when we receive it there is a “cut” number our vendor uses to track that specific cut of cable (like a serial number essentially), if there is no “cut” number from the vendor we will assign our own so that cable can be tracked until its gone. That “cut” number becomes your batch number that you reference when the quantity of cable is received and every time we utilize more of that cable we deduct whats used from that batch until its gone.

Doing this give us an overall footage count under the item, but if you go into the stock ledger you can see all the batches and their footages that make up that item total.

Scenario: I have a job that will require 4 runs of 750kcmil cable, each run is 100ft for a total of 400ft needed. The item shows me I have 480ft of this cable in stock (woo hoo), but if I look in the stock ledger I find (to my dismay) that I have 6 batches (cuts) but they are each 80 ft long. Damn, I need to order more cable to satisfy this job.

At some point I will get everything else into erpnext so QB can go away, but at the moment simply tracking inventory is working with this scenario. As it is, I can look at whats in inventory by total footage and track individual lengths. Very helpful for when you are trying to utilize the cable remnants sitting around the shop.

I hope this helps.

We have not gotten to tracking inventory items yet… but that was extremely helpful in planning approach.
Are there any other quick tips that you have learned along the way?
And… if you dont mind… what was the motivation for switching from quickbooks?
We’ve used quickbooks for about 15 years in the early 2000’s… then Wintac for the last 15 years, which was bought out and shutdown… I’ve made company transitions, wrote manuals, assisted and trained in the past… fully aware of the devastating effects of finding out that a particular platform will not fit the needs midstream… lots of learning experiences.


We are still evaluating things, playing with the modules to see how they can work with what we do out of the box. For our case (at least at the moment) we just use the stock tracking part of erpnext, I dont anticipate we will be totally off QB for some time.

My motivation to get away from QB is because Intuit is a garbage company in my opinion, we use QB for Mac and every couple years there will be an update that adds no new features but we are forced to update so it works with our bank. On top of that there are numerous versions for the Windows platform but only one for Mac.