QR codes have heavy-duty applications

Jason Cannon

February 14, 2013

Huey Lewis and the News made it “Hip to be Square” in 1986. Now, 27 years later, manufacturers of heavy-duty trucks are catching on.

QR Codes — a square barcode-like decal affixed to goods and products worldwide — have have become increasingly popular for their ability to store vast amounts of specific data in such a compact space.

QR Codes, when scanned by a QR Code reader, also can direct users to specific pages and websites, but the possibilities reach far beyond marketing.

Manufacturers of heavy-duty vehicles have harnessed the capability to craft specific detail into code-form, and have linked that information with their service shops.

Effective this year, all new Volvo trucks will come affixed with a QR code affixed inside the driver’s side door from the factory. Older trucks can be assigned a code upon service at a Volvo dealer.

The stickers, roughly a 1-inch square, are uniquely tied to the truck’s Vehicle Identification Number and once integrated with Volvo’s MVASIST, can recall the service history of the vehicle down to the most obscure detail.

Technicians scan the code with a QR reader, which can be downloaded to various mobile devices and tablets. QR code stickers will be located in the driver’s side door frame of new vehicles. Codes also can be created for older model vehicles in the MVASIST platform.

“(It captures) information about the year and the model. It’s got the VIN. It’s got its serial number and it’s even got its last odometer reading,” says Conal Deedy, Volvo’s project manager for electronics.

Once the vehicle is scanned in with the reader, it then can be checked in for service through MVASIST. Deedy says the goal of the QR Code initiative was to limit the amount of time technicians spend inputting basic vehicle information and limit customer’s downtime.

Joe Waters, a contributor for the “For Dummies” brand series of how-to books and author of QR Codes for Dummies, says QR code application in a service-based setting can ease tensions in customer wait time.

“If you run a business that’s known for its long lines, use QR Codes to share wait time or entertainment to keep people happy,” he says, noting that dealers could take the additional step to provide codes beyond what is provided from the factory. “Put QR Codes in areas where drivers can learn how to perform basic maintenance … For example, include one that links drivers to a video on how to properly change a tire.”

Other ideas for QR Codes in a service setting include:

• QR code placed in your lobby with a link to a Facebook page to generate more likes.
• QR code placed in a common waiting area with a link to Google Places/Yelp/Citysearch review page.
• QR code to linked to interesting websites recommend by the manager.
• QR codes for customers to look up the recommended schedules maintenance for their vehicles.
• QR code directed to the service shop’s web page where appointments can be scheduled, and so the customer can bookmark where to go to make their next appointment.

Implementation of QR Code technology has been slow in the heavy-duty marketplace. Volvo is currently the only heavy-duty manufacturer putting QR codes to use in service capacity.

But Matthew Matthew Gallizzi, founder of Notix Tech – a mobile technology company — says a QR Code decal placed in the window of vehicles for sale could easily replace the old-fashioned “sticker,” with many added advantages at the dealer level. 

Gallizzi notes that a QR Code could easily provide the same information as the traditional sticker — mechanical specs, price and warranty information — but also link to videos about the vehicle, test drive footage and additional photographs of the inside should the dealership lot be closed for a closer inspection. 

Generally, QR Codes can be created at little or no cost. Sites like Kaywa and QRStuff are free

To download a QR Code reader, simply visit the app store from your tablet, smart phone or other mobile device and download the one of your choosing. Most of them, too, are free.

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