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The value of QR codes for fast identification and ordering of OEM parts

If you didn’t already know what a QR code is, we’re confident that you’ll have come across one at some point. QR stands for Quick Response and is a black and white pixelated image that sprung to prominence in 2011. It’s primarily used as a marketing gimmick as brands use them across products and marketing literature for users to scan for promotional content.

Although QR codes may have faded from prominence in the marketing world in recent times, could they hold more promise for the engineering and manufacturing industries? Find out more about QR codes in manufacturing in this helpful guide from Bürkert.

What is a Quick Response code?

QR codes are similar to barcodes in that they store essential information. However, while barcodes are one-dimensional and can only be coded with information horizontally, QR codes are 2D. This means the information can be stored both vertically and horizontally, enabling a great deal more information to be accessed.

A traditional barcode might provide a product number and its expected location, but little else in terms of useful information. A QR code, on the other hand, can provide a wealth of information, including the condition of the product, date of production, accurate delivery time data and full traceability. So, if you’re wondering how to improve inventory management, it seems QR codes are much more useful compared to traditional barcodes.

The QR code originates from Japanese automatic data capture experts, DENSO WAVE. They first brought a QR code to market as early as 1994, which was quickly adopted by the automotive industry as part of their electronic Kanban scheduling systems. The traceability benefits also provided a clear advantage for food and beverage and pharmaceutical companies, who soon followed suit.

Now, with the advent of a relatively cheap mode of QR scanning via smartphone cameras, and their open-source nature, could this simple but powerful code be rolled out further across the manufacturing and engineering sectors to further improve inventory management?

What is inventory management?

Inventory management is a process of storing, ordering, using and selling a company’s inventory. No matter the product, a company will keep track of inventory to ensure they do not run out of stock and, when stock is low, more can be ordered.

Inventory management includes the management of raw materials, components and finished products. It also involves the warehousing and processing of products. 

Companies may well use QR codes to monitor their stock levels, as it provides quick and easy access to the information they require.

How to use QR codes for manufacturing and engineering

Using QR codes for inventory management allows companies to monitor inventory levels, build assemblies according to the bill of materials, track manufacturing processes and collect real-time data using mobile devices.

Employees can use smartphones, mobile devices or tablets to easily scan a QR code. This helps them to complete mobile forms, track manufacturing processes at various stages of production and more. Invariably, information collected using mobile devices is sent to a secure, central cloud location and is instantly available to all authorised users.

Technical reports at Bürkert

If you’d like to read more technical reports about processes in manufacturing, check out our website.

For anything else, contact us at +44 1285 648 720, or email

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