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If you’re looking after a large number of assets, be it vehicles, tools or any kind of equipment, using tracking software and technology such as barcodes and QR codes is essential for their effective management.

It’s estimated that more than 6 billion barcodes are scanned on a daily basis. But when it comes to choosing the best solution for asset tracking, is one better than the other?

What is a QR code?

We’ve all seen a QR code – a square that consists of small black and white shapes and dots. This is actually just a two-dimensional version of a barcode and is often referred to as either a data matrix code or a quick response code.

As well as storing all sorts of data and information about an asset, the QR code can be used to link to URLs, PDFs or images.

What are the benefits of QR codes for asset tracking?

The use of QR codes for asset tracking is beneficial for businesses in the way that they can store up to 2500 numerical characters of data, be read by smartphones and mobile computers, are easy to read even when damaged and require minimal training for staff using them.

The ability to store more data enables QR codes to be used for various applications such as tracking asset locations, viewing asset maintenance and repair history and managing the asset lifecycle.

What is a barcode?

Barcodes are everywhere, and most are recognisable as a small label that features a pattern of vertical white and black bars. These are often called 1D barcodes.

Each barcode has a unique code that can be assigned to a specific asset and readable by a barcode scanner. A scanner decodes the data stored on the barcode and transmits it to a computer or asset tracking system.

When it comes to asset tracking, you might find the location history of a piece of equipment on a barcode. Typically, they can hold up to 20-25 characters of data – this may be more suitable for businesses only using barcodes for inventory management.

Since the very first consumer barcode was scanned in 1974, the use of barcodes for asset tracking purposes has grown significantly. This is largely due to their ease of use, availability and cost-efficiency.

What are the benefits of barcodes for asset tracking?

Using barcodes to help track and manage assets is inexpensive, making them a cost-effective choice for many businesses. They’re also accurate as long as they are placed on the right product. This makes them a good alternative to manual systems that are prone to human error. Barcodes can speed up your process overall, which can even reduce manual labour and ensure that your asset tracking system is always up to date.

Which is better – barcodes or QR codes?

One key difference between barcodes and QR codes for asset tracking is the durability of each tag or label. With poor barcode quality costing UK businesses between £500million and £1billion per year, it’s essential that assets are tagged accurately.

A small damage to a barcode, such as a tiny crease or tear, can cause it to fail completely, a QR code can still operate as normal – even when damaged. In fact, only 30% of a QR code needs to be intact for it to work.

Not only this, but barcodes can be finnicky; they usually need to be scanned from specific angles and if there’s an error in printing, there’s a good change your scanners won’t be able to read the information stored.

Zebra asset tracking

Leading barcode scanner and mobile computer provider Zebra has dedicated imagers for scanning barcodes and algorithms inside their devices that are designed for speedy and accurate scanning, giving you the most effective method of asset tracking.

We supply a wide range of Zebra products, including handheld and ultra-rugged barcode scanners and mobile computers to support vehicle tracking, material tracking and tool and equipment tracking.

Zebra DS2200 Series imagers are ideal for capturing QR codes (and other 2D barcodes). Since the default settings are optimised for the majority of scanning applications, you can use the DS2200 Series imager the moment you take it out of the box — no configuration required.

Also, if you have multiple, they can be remotely managed with a Scanner Management Service (SMS) application.

Zebra hardware along with our Asset-I solution will help you track your entire inventory, asset status history, important dates and more – all in one place.

If you’re looking for an asset tracking solution, we can design a bespoke system for you. Just get in touch with our team at