Tracking software provider Zebra Technologies has introduced an application that provides real time information on the location, status and condition of reusable racks and containers used to store and deliver parts to the vehicle assembly line.

According to the company, the management solution has been designed to simplify the complexity of the automotive supply chain by combining radio frequency identification (RFID), real time locating systems (RTLS) and visibility software, thereby providing more precise information. It is built on Zebra's Material Flow suite and purported to be the only industry-specific rack and container technology available on the market that uses RTLS technology. 

The system allows for real-time location reports, mapping and provides alerts when racks or containers are delivered to the wrong location during their movement along the supply chain. The company said that real-time information on the number of empty, useable or significantly damaged racks on a particular site reduces time-consuming counts carried out by assembly plant staff.

"This new offering further demonstrates the growing demand for real-time visibility to improve efficiency and productivity in the manufacturing environment," said Jill Stelfox, vice president and general manager of Location Solutions, Zebra Technologies. "Rack and container management continues to be an ongoing operational challenge for businesses, especially in the automotive industry. Zebra's solution delivers efficient and real-time visibility to address this need." 

Problems faced by the automotive industry include lost and damaged racks and containers, the lack of tracking receipts and inaccurate data on the number of empty versus full containers.