Imagine, you walk onto the production floor with a stack of paperwork orders in hand. Some equipment requires an oil change and some parts need to be replaced. As you grab an oil canister, it drops right onto the work orders. The oil ruins all the work orders and gets all over the new parts. You have to put all your work on hold as you clean up, rewrite the work orders, and make sure the spares are still functioning.
You might be cringing right now. And it’s about to get worse. This is a true story and dropping that one canister of oil caused hours of delays and thousands of dollars in lost production. All because paper work orders are easily destroyed.
So, how do you avoid a similar fate? The solution lies in a common and simple piece of technology that often gets overlooked in maintenance — QR codes.
QR codes can be used to streamline workflows and access information quicker than you pour a cup of coffee. This frees up time in your jam-packed schedule and helps keep production lines running with fewer disruptions.
This article will explore how maintenance managers and technicians can utilize QR codes in maintenance to improve equipment maintenance, track assets, and better plan preventative maintenance.
What are QR codes?
Much like traditional barcodes, QR codes store data by using a series of patterns of black dots and white space. The patterns are scanned with the help of a camera or scanner and translated into readable text such as work orders, manuals, or images. They can also be put on almost anything. For example, you can stick QR codes on an asset, the shelves in your storeroom or even on a door of an office.
QR codes allow easy access to information and provide real-time updates to that data. Most iOS and Android mobile devices come equipped with QR code readers, making it an easy solution to access information and share it with various people.
The top three benefits of using QR codes in maintenance
1. Quicker response to asset issues
If a machine requires maintenance, an operator or technician can scan the QR code on that equipment and quickly create a work request. With the QR code, technicians can access everything from repair history, maintenance manuals, and, on more sophisticated systems, real-time updates on the asset's condition. Technicians don’t have to spend time retrieving documents, hunting down people for information or searching for the right parts.
2. Collect more accurate data
Using QR codes to collect and share asset information eliminates the need to track information in Excel or a document that gets shoved in a filing cabinet. It also provides more accurate information as data can be updated in real-time instead of logging data at the end of inspection rounds or into multiple systems.
3. Increasing standardization in your maintenance tasks
Having QR codes attached to assets allows you to see maintenance checklists for that asset so technicians know exactly what to do when servicing it. For example, technicians will know exactly how much lubrication to apply to a part so the job can be done quickly while reducing the risk of post-maintenance breakdowns.
Three ways to use QR codes in your maintenance strategy
QR codes can be used daily to make day-to-day tasks, like equipment maintenance, inventory management, and asset tracking, easier. Here are a few examples of how your team can use this technology on the shop floor.
- Using a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), fill out details of each piece of equipment, including repair history, instruction manuals, and any associated tools or replacement parts. Then generate a QR code using the CMMS. Place the QR codes on each piece of equipment. Technicians can scan the code to pull up details of work orders associated with the equipment, view past repairs, and even access the machine’s instruction manual. With this technology, they are able to quickly repair the equipment without spending time looking for information.
- Place a QR code on every aisle and shelf in your equipment storeroom. Inventory managers can scan the code on each shelf to access inventory details such as the quantity of spare parts and past purchase orders. This information can influence better-informed purchasing decisions and streamline auditing.
- Consider using QR codes as a tool to plan a more accessible preventative maintenance strategy. By placing them on equipment, QR codes provide information on inspections tasks, bills of materials, and follow-up workflows with a simple scan. Having technicians update the result of inspections using the QR code makes tracking usage patterns and repair history easier. Pair this technology with a CMMS, and you have an all-in-one system to plan your facility's preventative maintenance strategy.
QR codes are convenient, inexpensive, and easy to implement solutions to common maintenance problems. Pairing their use with CMMS software will guarantee to have lasting benefits and improve the efficiency of your operation.