Using QR Codes And Smartphones For The Efficient Inventory Management

Using QR codes and smartphones for inventory management makes field teams more productive compared to manual methods. When a QR code is scanned, it instantly connects an item to its record in a central database. This lets a field technician easily see and update inventory information. QR code scanning helps swiftly add inventory to batches and track inventory movement in real time.

This article explains how to set up a QR code inventory management system in your company. When done right, a QR Inventory system offers a quick return on investment. It is easy for the field and warehouse employees to learn and use.

QR Code Inventory Management - Table Of Contents

Can you use QR codes for inventory management?
How to use QR codes for inventory management?
Benefits of using QR codes for inventory management
QR codes vs barcodes for inventory management
QR code inventory management software
QR code inventory management starter guide
Beyond inventory management: using QR codes for increasing field productivity


Can You Use QR Codes For Inventory Management?

Yes, QR codes are great for managing inventory. They were made for this when regular barcodes couldn't keep up.

Back in the 1990s, Toyota realized their barcode system was getting too full. They were using so many parts that the regular barcode couldn't handle them all. So, in 1994, Toyota's subsidiary, Denso Wave, came up with a solution. They created a two-dimensional code system known as Quick Response, or QR code. This new system was perfect for quickly scanning components during manufacturing.

Fast forward it to the present, and an addition of the mobile phones and cloud software to the mix creates an automated real time inventory management system. A mobile phone can scan QR codes and can also connect to the cloud database. These capabilities allow companies to track inventory anywhere with a smartphone using QR codes scanning. There is no need to purchase barcode scanners and mobile computers, which are a major part of investment into the inventory management system. Live stock level and inventory data are available to all authorized QR code inventory system users.

All in all, a QR code inventory management system gives you better insights into your operations with less effort and and at a lower cost.

How To Use QR Codes For Inventory Management?

Using QR codes for inventory management will automate your inventory tracking process. You will have accurate, real time inventory stock levels and usage reports. And company employees will spend less time on inventory management, and more time on doing their primary job.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to effectively use QR codes for inventory management:

Create QR code labels

Generate QR code labels with the unique part numbers.

Label inventory

Label inventory with the QR codes and enter it into the inventory management software system.

Use QR code scanning app

Use mobile phones with the QR code scanning application to record inventory transactions. Scan a QR code label to record anything that happns to your inventory. It can be receiving in the warehouse, storing, moving between locations, delivery to the job site, use, sale, return, etc.

Sign up for a cloud inventory software.

A QR code scanning app should be linked to a back end cloud software. Inventory data are sent from the mobile devices to the cloud software, processed and stored in a central database.

Review inventory reports

Review inventory reports via the cloud software web interface. Reports will give you a real time view of inventory stock. Analytical reports will process all data and help you identify inventory usage patterns and trends.

A QR code inventory management system

A QR Inventory software will allow you to do all of the above steps. It has a built-in tool for QR code generation and labels printing. You can easily enter inventory into the software system, online or ising a mobile app. A QR Inventory system is a cloud software that comes with the QR codes scanning mobile app. A mobile app is linked to a backend cloud software and can exchange data in real time. As a result, all team members have a live view of inventory stock and usage.

Check what business problems you can solve with the QR code based inventory software.


Benefits Of Using QR Codes For Inventory Management

Using QR codes for inventory management has lots of advantages that can make your inventory processes smoother and more efficient. Here are some important benefits:

QR Codes Allow For Quick and Accurate Data Entry

QR codes help you enter data fast and accurately. Instead of typing in information, you can scan a QR code. Scanning a QR code gets rid of errors and makes sure the data is right.

QR Codes Help With The Efficient Inventory Tracking

You can put QR codes on items, shelves or pallets. This helps you track where each item goes in your inventory. It's easier to see what you have in stock and find inventory items that you need.

QR Codes Save Time

Scanning QR codes is much faster than typing data in manually or searching for the information on paper. This saves time for your workers, so they can focus on their primary jobs.

QR Codes Provide Real Time Inventory Updates

If you use inventory software with QR codes, you can see stock level updates right away. This helps you decide when to order more and keeps your stock info accurate.

QR Codes Reduce Losses

With the accurate, real time inventory management you stop losing items. You can find where required parts and materials are located fast, and do not need to place unnecessary orders.

QR Codes Allow For Fast Inventory Audits

QR codes and smartphones make inventory counts and audits simple. Auditors can scan QR codes to add inventory to the batch. he can submit inventory count to the back end cloud software at any time. The count is done in hours rather than weeks. No information is lost, and no double entries or manual work is required.

QR Codes Make Inventory Management Tasks Easy

Scanning QR codes is simple. Your workers don't need lots of training, so they can start using a new inventory management software quickly.

Central Data Storage

QR codes working with the inventory management software put all the info in one spot. Authorized software users can check real time inventory data from anywhere. Centralized inventory management system helps everyone work together and make decisions.

QR Code Inventory Software Works Anywhere

You can use smartphones or portable scanners to scan QR codes. This lets you manage inventory even when you're moving around, so you can update info from different spots.

QR Codes Inventory Management Saves You Money

Using QR codes for inventory is usually cheaper than other high-tech inventory management methods. You can print QR codes on the regular office printer. Your employees can use their own mobile phones for inventory scanning. You do not need to purchase specialized barcode printing and scanning equipment.
Adding QR codes to your inventory management system can really help with accuracy, efficiency, and control.

QR Codes Versus UPC Barcodes For Inventory Management

QR codes or barcodes - what works better for inventory management?

Often when people think about using smartphones for inventory management, they automatically link this process to the QR codes. This is not entirely correct - most 1D linear barcodes can also be scanned with the smartphone. An inventory management mobile app can work equally well with the QR codes and barcodes.

Of course, the advantages of the QR codes is that they can include much more information. But in order to make QR codes dynamic you need to fetch information from the central database on each scan. If you try to encode all data that you need into the QR code, you will need to re-print it each time this information changes. So in the dynamic QR code inventory management systems a QR code only encodes a unique line item ID, just like a reqular barcode.

If you have a choice between QR codes and barcodes, a QR code is preferrable for the following reasons:

  • QR codes have better tolerance for error. An error correction is built-in into the QR codes. Even if a part of a QR code is torn off or damaged it can still be scanned. With the barcodes, a slight damage makes a barcode unscannable.
  • QR codes are read better with a smartphone. Some 1D barcodes are not readable with a smartphone camera. Other barcodes may be very slow to scan when using a smartphone. QR codes are much faster to scan and are more reliable if you plan to use smartphones for inventory management.

So if you need to label your inventory you may want to opt for the QR codes. But if your inventory or assets are already labeled with the barcodes there is no reason to re-label. You can still take advantage of the new technology and optimize your inventory management process by using smartphones as scanners or mobile computers.

Incorporating QR Codes Into Your Inventory Management System

Should you opt for a new QR code inventory software, or add QR codes to the existing inventory management system?

If you are currently not using any inventory management software now it is a good time to jump in. It is especially true if the reason for not using a software is a high cost and complexity of the traditional inventory management systems.

Modern inventory software systems tend to be more affordable, less complex, and are offered as a service. SaaS (software as a service) model means that you do not have to invest in your own IT infrastructure or keep qualified IT personnel on staff. Modern software is usually cloud based. It means that all employees have an immediate access to the up to date information. A mobile app allows field workers to use mobile phones and QR code scanning for the real time inventory tracking.

But what if you already have an inventory management software in place, but it does not support QR code scanning? In most cases a QR code scanning mobile app can be integrated into your existing inventory management software. This combo will give field employees a way to use QR codes and smartphones for inventory tracking. They will be able to quickly process inventory using QR code scanning. They also will be able to look up inventory information and stock in the mobile app.

A QR code scanning mobile app should be linked to your existing inventory management system. This link will ensure that all inventory changes recorded in the mobile app update data in your inventory software in real time. No matter what software system you are using, it probably has an API to allow real time integration. At least some software vendors will be able to do the integration for you, adding QR codes scanning option to the existing inventory management process.

Check how you can use QR codes for inventory and asset tracking


A QR Code Inventory Management Starter Guide

Practical steps for implementing a QR code inventory management system in your company

In order to start using QR Codes and the smartphones for the inventory management you will need several components working together:

A QR code scanning mobile application

A mobile application should be able to scan barcodes or QR codes and send updated inventory info to the back end cloud software. Please note - it is not a generic QR code scanning mobile app! A generic QR code scanning application will simply show you what is encoded in a QR code. These applications can also recognize an encoded url and redirect you to a website. If you want to handle inventory management tasks you need a mobile app specifically designed for this purpose. It should be capable of communicating with the backend cloud software or be integrated directly into your current inventory management system.

A cloud inventory software

A cloud software with the web based interface will allow you to set up inventory management process rules and run reports. Web interface should also allow you to generate and print QR code labels. Although there are plenty of sites that let you generate QR codes, they might not work well for your purpose. You need to know *exactly* what a mobile app expects to be encoded in the QR code. Normally, a cloud software should work together with a mobile app. A web part of the inventory management system should generate QR codes that a mobile app can read. This way QR codes will always have correct data encoded in them without extra efforts on your part.

A cloud server and a database

A remote cloud server hosts the web based part of the QR code inventory management system, and the central database. Central database stores asset and inventory data. Both a mobile app and a cloud software communicate to the central database, giving all software users access to the real time inventory data.

A QR Code Inventory Management Software

If you want to start using mobile and QR code technologies for inventory management, a QR Inventory software will work well for you. It is specifically designed for businesses who need to track inventory in multiple out-of-office locations. Field employees can use their own smartphones or tablets to track assets and inventory in the field using QR code scanning. They can also use QR code scanning to access inventory information and stock level in all locations. Office employees have full visibility into the inventory stock, transactions and usage via the web dashboard reports.

Check out what QR Inventory software can do for your business.


Beyond Inventory Management - Using QR Codes For Increasing Field Productivity

How to use QR codes, smartphones and mobile forms to complete all types of field paperwork in a productive and efficient manner.

Inventory and assets management is not an isolated process, it is usually connected to the other business operations and procedures that require data collection, documentation and reporting.

For example, if you are tracking equipment and work tools, you will want to document equipment maintenance, service and repairs. If you are a manufacturer, along with the tracking inventory you may need to manage production process: monitor progress, record details of each step and fill out quality control forms. You may need to track custom projects through the stages and record what was done on each step. Traceability requirements include tracing ingredients and components to their origin, and also tracking / documenting a production process. Property management companies need to track tools, materials and supplies, as well as document property repairs and maintenance. There are plenty of situations when assets and inventory tracking goes hand in hand with the need to collect data in the field or on site when you are away from the computers. Inspections, audits, service and maintenance, tasks checklists, reporting asset conditions or damage, requesting services, projects tracking - the list goes on and on.

Traditionally, either paper forms or mobile computers were used for the field paperwork. Needless to say, paper forms are not a perfect solution. They are not flexible, can be easily damaged, misplaced or lost, there are no built-in checks to make sure the forms are filled out correctly, hand-writing can be ineligible. Company employees will need to do double work by re-entering all collected information into the computer, spending extra time and introducing more possibilities for mistakes.

The information flow within the company is slow and inadequate. There is a long gap between the time information is collected and the time it is accessible to the other team members who need it. With the paper-based system employees cannot readily get access to the information they need to do their job in the field, and often need to spend time calling office or other field technicians and wait for a response before they can continue with their job.

Mobile computers solve many of the paper forms problems, but the systems with mobile computers in the field and centralized storage in the office are very expensive, and usually are out of reach for the small businesses.

Modern mobile forms software solutions use regular smartphones as QR code scanners, data collection and access tools, and centralized cloud location for the data storage. This setup is much more affordable, especially if employees are using their own smartphones for filling out mobile forms. Mobile forms software increases business productivity and provides numerous benefits, such as:

  • Field employees can use QR code scanning to uniquely identify an asset or equipment and review asset information in the field.
  • You can create and update mobile forms for data collection via a web interface. All changes are dispatched to the employees smartphones, so they always have up-to-date forms to fill out.
  • Entered information is auto saved on the user's smartphone, no information is misplaced or lost.
  • Mobile forms have built-in checks to ensure that everything is filled out correctly.
  • In addition to filling out mobile forms, employees can use the smartphones for taking images, capturing signatures and transmitting GPS location of the data collection to the remote cloud server.
  • All collected information is sent to the backend cloud software, and is available to all authorized users in real time. This is especially important for the information that needs to be acted upon quickly, such as equipment damage reports and service requests.
  • Data are stored in a secure cloud, can be searched by multiple parameters to quickly find required records and information.
  • You can link mobile forms to the specific steps in your business workflow.

QR Mobile Data software works together with QR Inventory to make your field data collection tasks efficient, fast and error-free. The same system of QR codes that you created for tracking assets and inventory will allow field employees to collect and access data. The scan of a QR code label with a smartphone identifies an asset - and everything related to this asset: information, past records, forms and checklists to complete are immediately available.

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QR Inventory and QR Mobile Data are brand names of inventory management and mobile forms software by AHG -- a provider of mobile and cloud-based applications for business. Our unified mobile platform improves business operations efficiency by eliminating manual tasks and physical paperwork, while providing a secure cloud storage for the business records, real time access to business data for all stakeholders, comprehensive data reporting and analytics. Headquartered in beautiful Boise, Idaho, AHG software is used to manage hundreds of millions of dollars annually in inventory and assets.

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