A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) first designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan. A barcode is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached. In practice, QR codes often contain data for a locator, identifier, or tracker that points to a website or application. The Quick Response system became popular outside the automotive industry due to its fast readability and greater storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. Applications include product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management, and general marketing. In this blog post, we will take a look at some applications of QR codes in manufacturing.

Inventory management with QR codes

QR codes were invented specifically for inventory management. By the early 1990s, Toyota Company found out that the barcode system they used to track parts was running out of capacity: the number components the company used was about to exceed the maximum number of items they could encode in a standard barcode. To solve this problem, in 1994 Toyota’s subsidiary, Denso Wave invented a two-dimensional graphical code system called Quick Response, or QR code system. It was designed to allow high-speed component scanning during the manufacturing process.

Even if you do not deal with very high number of components, exceeding regular barcode capacity, your inventory management process will benefit from incorporating QR Codes because of smartphones. Instead of using traditional scanners, your employees can use smartphones to track inventory items.

A person in the manufacturing process using QR codes

Track equipment maintenance

Keeping track of maintenance for every piece of equipment in your organization can be labor-intensive, particularly if you rely on paper records. Good maintenance tracking can reduce costs, as it allows closer attention to the maintenance and replacement needs of your organization. Convenient, accurate maintenance tracking offered by QR inventory tags makes maintenance tracking feasible and easy for large organizations.

Using QR codes in business stationery and invoices

Mistakes happen and you want to make the correction process as painless as possible for you and the consumer. Include a QR code on items such as your business stationery and invoices that leads directly to your customer service site for such helpful information as contact numbers, user guides, and (if needed) return labels.

Work instructions access

Visual work instruction systems like REWO allow you to create QR codes that you can print out and stick to critical locations around your shop floor. This way any employee can simply scan the code and get direct access to the SOP or WI that he or she needs in that moment. The company also ensures it will always have the latest versions of the work instructions available to their employees, so there’s no need to worry that there’s an outdated instruction anywhere on the shop floor. Try scanning the bottom QR code to see how it looks like.

QR code example for work instructions