QR Codes: Beyond the Trend

Massaro Restoration QR Code

Seen more commonly in marketing applications, there are pragmatic applications of QR codes in the world of construction.

In case you thought that there weren’t enough acronyms and codes involved in the construction industry, get ready for QR codes! Not to fret though. These odd-looking squares can be much more appealing than they sound – or look for that matter.

QR (Quick Response) codes were invented by Toyota to keep track of automotive parts in the 90s, but the recent ubiquity of smartphones has resulted in these codes popping up on billboards and magazines everywhere. For anybody carrying a smartphone or tablet, QR codes can be scanned in order to provide a direct link between the physical world and the digital world.

While the current most common use for QR codes has been for marketing purposes – by providing links to company websites – there are more creative and functional uses to be found. Here are just a few of these uses within the construction industry that I find to be the most interesting and innovative:

Self-Updating Construction Documents: A constant struggle for field personnel is knowing whether or not their construction drawings reflect the inevitable changes that occur throughout a project. In come the QR codes! New document revision control systems such as Sigility and isOK allow you to print QR codes directly onto each sheet in a set of construction documents that can then be scanned with a smartphone to tell somebody whether or not their drawings are up-to-date.

Building Permits: A recent article in ENR describes how The New York City Department of Buildings has begun printing QR codes on every building permit in the city. Any person with a smartphone can come and scan the code to find information on what is being built, who’s building it, any complaints that have been filed, etc. I can’t imagine it will be too long before the city of Pittsburgh implements this simple and effective technology.

Installation and Operating Manual: Many building product and equipment manufacturers are now placing QR codes directly on their products with links to information such as installation guides, safety videos, and operations manuals just to name a few. It’s easy to see this application having significant advantages for workers out in the field and building maintenance personnel.


Jared Friedman
Article by Jared Friedman, VDC Engineer

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