You have probably already seen quick response (QR) codes appearing in magazines, newspapers, posters, business cards and in various other print sources. As smartphone technologies and uses become more prevalent, the use of QR codes is increasing … and expanding in scope. The construction industry is seeing some new and innovative uses, including the following:
Marketing and Business Development. This is perhaps the primary area where QR codes are being used. A code can be generated and placed within your company’s marketing materials. Just scan the code with a smartphone and it can be linked back to your company’s website, list of projects, contact information, or just about any other information that has a digital footprint.
Access to Building Permit Information. Last year, New York Mayor Bloomberg and Department of Buildings Commissioner Limandri introduced the use of QR codes on all future NYC construction permits. According to an Oreilly Rader article, "QR codes help us add context and dynamic info to NYC’s physical environment," wrote Rachel Sterne, New York City’s first chief digital officer on her Tumblr. In this instance, any individual can scan these codes to see a web view of what’s being built, who is doing the building, and what (if any) complaints have been filed against the permittee. You can imagine what other information you will be able to store electronically on a construction project that can be accessed immediately in the field with a scan of a simple code.
Servicing Manuals and Product Specifications. As noted in a post at Engineering New Record today, some vendors and equipment manufacturers like Air Burners, Inc. are using QR codes with operation and maintenance of their $150,000 air-curtain burners used in landfills, construction sites and military operational zones. The company’s most recent equipment is "equipped" with two QR codes: one, for the operating manual and, another, for servicing information. The operator can quickly download the needed information.
Project Management and Version Control. A highly innovative use of QR codes has emerged in the form of document controls when dealing with plans and drawings. As shown in the video below, the solution called isOK featured on AECGuild.com can be used by scanning the QR code affixed to drawings to confirm whether it is the latest released drawing. As this technology develops, this can have significant uses in the field to check status of drawings, changes, conflicts, etc.
The usage of QR codes is growing. Its success in the construction industry will depend largely on the level comfort of end users, as well as the interface with current technologies on the construction site. However, based upon the uses so far, I look forward to what’s ahead.