Why QR Codes Beat Out Barcodes for Manufacturing (+ How to Use Them)

Everyone is familiar with QR Codes, but their connection with the manufacturing industry may not be immediately apparent. However, it turns out that QR Codes have several powerful use cases in this field.

For manufacturing companies, efficiency and quality control are the name of the game—and these are two areas where QR Codes can help.

In this guide to QR Codes in manufacturing, we’ll show you how they can enhance traceability and quality control in operations and how you can use QR Code Generator to streamline and optimize your processes.

Benefits of using QR Codes in manufacturing

Before we explore how to use QR Codes for manufacturing, let’s first cover why your manufacturing business can benefit from them—from streamlining operations to enhancing quality control.

Improved inventory management

Traditional methods of tracking and managing inventory often revolve around manual data entry—a process that is both time-consuming and prone to human error. However, using QR Codes for inventory management can completely eliminate the need for manual data collection and entry.

With QR Codes, each product and component can be assigned a unique code that contains relevant information about the item’s:

  • Serial number

  • Manufacturing date

  • Specifications

This way, you can automate your inventory management process for better efficiency and reliability. 

Enhanced traceability

Part and product traceability is a vital objective in the manufacturing industry. This is especially true in the aerospace, automotive, and pharmaceutical sectors, where product quality and safety are critical.

QR Codes enable manufacturers to easily track products throughout their entire lifecycle, from their raw material origins to final assembly. This improved traceability offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Better quality control

  • Compliance with industry regulations

  • The ability to quickly and accurately execute product recalls in the event of a quality issue

Real-time data access

QR Codes provide instant and easy access to important product information with just a single scan of your mobile device. In the manufacturing industry, this real-time data access can provide several advantages.

For example, a worker on the shop floor can swiftly retrieve detailed specifications, assembly instructions, or safety guidelines for a particular component.

Managers, meanwhile, can monitor production progress, track shipments, and analyze performance metrics in real-time.

This instant access to product information empowers decision-makers to respond promptly to issues, optimize workflows, and make informed choices.

Quality control and error reduction

Effective quality control is a cornerstone of any successful manufacturing operation. Thankfully, QR Codes make it easy to seamlessly integrate quality assurance (QA) procedures into your production workflow.

By assigning QR Codes to each product, manufacturers can link them to a comprehensive quality control database. During production, workers scan the code to access quality checklists, testing protocols, and specifications.

You can also use QR Codes to automate error reporting, allowing workers to immediately log an issue just by scanning the relevant code.

QR Codes vs. barcodes in manufacturing

How does a QR Code encode data, and what makes it different from a barcode?

While they’re both used for similar applications, QR Codes allow for a lot more advanced capabilities than barcodes, including:

  • More robust data capacity

  • Faster and more reliable scanning

  • More customization options

These advantages make QR Codes the optimal choice for manufacturing companies looking to improve part and product organization.

8 ways to use QR Codes in manufacturing

From data collection to tracking inventory and raw materials, let’s break down eight of the most powerful ways QR Codes can revolutionize your manufacturing business.

Manufacturer holding a smartphone with a WIP page open after having scanned the QR code in front of them

1. Work-in-progress (WIP) tracking

Tracking the progress of products throughout every stage of manufacturing provides companies with the real-time information they need to ensure swift and efficient operations.

Workers can quickly scan QR Codes affixed to workstations and products to update their status and location in real-time. This helps facilitate seamless coordination between different departments within the company and minimize production delays.

2. Equipment maintenance and tracking

Maintaining the quality of your manufacturing equipment is a key part of ensuring great products. By assigning a QR Code to each piece of machinery, you can link the equipment to digital records containing maintenance schedules, repair histories, and usage guidelines.

This ensures workers can access all the information they need to keep equipment maintained with just a single scan, prolonging the lifespan of your equipment and ensuring compliance with safety and quality standards.

3. Quality assurance and inspection

QR Codes can streamline a manufacturing company’s quality control processes by providing instant access to inspection checklists, standards, and criteria. They also make it easy for workers to flag issues.

By eliminating the need for manual data collection and entry, QR Codes can improve the efficiency of quality control processes and reduce the potential for human error.

4. Supply chain visibility

77% of manufacturing companies claim to be investing in supply chain visibility. With QR Codes, manufacturers can easily track the movement of products and components from production to delivery.

The data this provides offers valuable insights into lead times, potential bottlenecks, and opportunities for optimization, allowing companies to make data-driven decisions regarding their supply chain.

5. Employee training and certification

By assigning each employee a QR Code, you can simplify the process of training and certifications. When an employee’s QR Code is scanned, you’ll get instant access to their training history, certifications, and skills.

This helps companies monitor their training initiatives and ensure each employee is assigned tasks that align with their skills and qualifications.

6. Monitoring customer satisfaction

By making it quick and easy for customers to provide feedback, QR Codes can help your company track customer satisfaction. QR Codes allow you to create smart packaging with a code that links to a survey. You can also provide QR Codes that link to customer support resources to further enhance the post-purchase experience.

7. Marketing and print advertisements

A manufacturing company’s job doesn’t end once products roll off the assembly line; that’s just where marketing and sales begin.

QR Codes are a powerful marketing tool that helps bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds. By putting them in print advertisements, brochures, or product labels, you can allow potential customers to access additional information, promotions, or interactive content.

This not only boosts your marketing efforts but also allows you to gather valuable data on engagement.

8. Invoicing

Making the process of paying invoices quick and easy for your customers can help ensure that you’re paid on time and in full. With QR Codes, manufacturers can send out digital invoices that link the customer directly to the payment provider, streamlining the entire billing and payment process for you and your customers alike. 

Using QR Codes for invoicing also reduces the potential for manual input errors and improves security since they don’t require sensitive payment information to be shared through traditional means.  

How to create QR Codes for manufacturing

If you want to create QR Codes for use in manufacturing, you’ll need to leverage a high-quality tool such as QR Code Generator PRO.

With QR Code Generator PRO, you can easily make and customize large batches of QR Codes using an intuitive interface and simple, point-and-click commands.

QR Code Generator PRO also provides many other advanced features that are ideal for manufacturing operations, such as:

  • Real-time metrics

  • Managing all your QR Codes from a single dashboard

  • The option to fully customize appearance and functionality

Supercharge your manufacturing processes with QR Code Generator

QR Codes offer many benefits and uses within the manufacturing industry, from streamlining inventory management to enhancing quality control. If you want to use QR Codes to supercharge your manufacturing processes, QR Code Generator PRO is the perfect tool.

QR Code Generator PRO provides all the functionalities and features manufacturing companies need to create, track, and manage QR Codes in one easy-to-use platform. 

Sign up today to start optimizing your manufacturing processes!

Tobias Funke

Tobias Funke is Bitly’s Vice President of Product. With a background in software engineering, he has a decade of combined experience in product development and the QR Code space. Tobias leads a team that developed one of the most successful and popular QR Code generators available. His entrepreneurial and growth mindset helps build products that continuously disrupt the market. You can connect with Tobias on LinkedIn.

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