23a:Using bins and barrels
|This article is about an older version of DF.
Ordinarily, each item or stack (e.g. ≡Dwarven Ale Stew ≡) of items occupies one space of stockpile room. You can consolidate stockpile space by building bins and barrels that can hold many items at once. Barrels store and preserve food and drink, while bins can store many types of smaller items, such as finished goods, metal bars, ammo, or gems. Building a steady supply of containers helps reduce the space you need for storage.
It is possible to set whether bins can be used in a stockpile with → and → . For barrels, and are used instead of and . By default, bins are used in Bar/Block, ammo, gems, Finished Goods, Cloth and Leather stockpiles, and barrels are used in Food stockpiles. Also by default, the stockpiles that use barrels or bins to store other items will permit a barrel or bin on each of their spaces; such a stockpile will claim an empty container whenever it doesn't already have one. You can override this by specifying the maximum number of barrels and bins that an individual stockpile is allowed to utilize. To access this stockpile feature, use the menu and move to the stockpile in question.
"Reserved Barrels/Bins" is a global setting that reserves a certain number of barrels or bins, preventing them from being claimed by a stockpile so they can be selected by jobs that require their use. This feature is most often used to ensure that a fortress has ample empty barrels for the production of alcohol, although empty barrels are also necessary for other jobs. You can change this setting in the stockpile menu . If there are 5 reserved barrels, no stockpile will claim an empty barrel until you have at least 6 lying around. In this way you can ensure that jobs like making alcohol always have free barrels available.
In the case of barrels necessary for producing alcohol (which will keep your dwarves happy and alert) and Dwarven syrup (which can be used to make high value prepared meals), they do not have to be located on a furniture stockpile. This is because the "Store Item in <container>" task only looks at Furniture stockpiles for available containers. Normal production tasks behave as mentioned earlier - they will just grab the nearest barrel. You can exert some limited control over this by setting a number of reserved barrels, though you cannot set where these barrels will be.
Though it is possible to reserve bins, there is no advantage in doing so, as no workshop tasks make use of empty bins.