Smart Inventory And Asset Tracking With QR Codes, NFC, Bluetooth

QR Inventory is a smart inventory management and asset tracking system that gives you a real time visibility into the inventory and assets in the field and warehouse. Use smartphones and QR codes, NFC tags or bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons for the efficient, real time inventory and assets tracking. Inventory and asset data are sent from the smartphones to the backend inventory management cloud software. Inventory and assets reports are immediately accessible to the authorized employees, on the mobile devices in the field and on the computers in the office.


QR Inventory software makes field inventory management and assets tracking easy, fast, efficient and real time by using modern smart IoT technologies. Use smart mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) and QR codes, NFC or bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacon tags for the automated, real time inventory tracking in the field. Use smartphones for QR code or NFC inventory tags scanning, or further automate inventory management by scanning multiple inventory items labeled with the BLE beacon tags with one click. Track inventory and assets across multiple locations: warehouse, yards, job sites, service trucks, shop floor, etc. - and access up to the minute inventory reports available to all authorized inventory system users.
QR Inventory is a smart inventory system that gives you a lot of flexibility in setting up your inventory management and asset tracking process. Since QR Inventory software is very flexible and can accommodate various business scenarios, it is very important that you set up QR Inventory correctly from the start. Here are the most common mistakes that people do when setting up QR Inventory software, and frequently asked questions. If you are not sure how to set up QR Inventory software for your inventory management project, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Real Time Inventory And Assets Tracking With The Smartphones And The Cloud

Is there any delay between inventory processing in the mobile application and cloud data update?

There are no delays - inventory and asset transactions processed on a smartphone in the QR Inventory mobile application update backend cloud database in real time. As soon as inventory or asset changes are recorded on any of the smartphones in the field, inventory stock and asset location are sent to the cloud and are adjusted in the central database. Up-to-the-minute inventory and asset reports are available to all authorized users of the QR Inventory system.

Do we have to use smartphones for the field assets and inventory tracking?

It is convenient to use smartphones for the field inventory and assets tracking. Field technicians can use their own smartphones that they are familiar with, so there is a minimal learning curve and you become productive fast. You also do not have to buy barcode scanning hardware that can be quite expensive.
However, you do not have to use smartphones or tablets. You can use rugged mobile computers that are done specifically for the harsh outdoor conditions, or regular mobile computers that are running Android OS.

Can we use a barcode scanner instead of the smartphone for inventory and asset tracking?

Yes, if you prefer to you can use a regular barcode scanner. If you need a barcode scanner for the faster processing of the inventory and asset transactions, the best setup would be a bluetooth barcode scanner connected to a smartphone or a tablet. QR Inventory mobile application is natively integrated with the Socket Mobile line of barcode scanners. You can find more information on using a bluetooth barcode scanner with the QR Inventory mobile application here.

Does QR Inventory software support Internet of Things (IoT) inventory management?

It depends on what exactly you understand under the "IoT inventory management". QR Inventory software supports radio frequency tags (NFC, bluetooth) which transfer inventory data to the cloud - in this sense QR Inventory is an IoT inventory management system. The inventory and assets data transfer to the cloud is done through the smartphones. An employee needs to turn on a smartphone, open a QR Inventory mobile application and use the smartphone to scan assets and inventory (multiple assets or inventory items at once with the bluetooth or RFID inventory tags) and submit collected information to the cloud.
If under the "IoT inventory management" you mean a completely automated inventory management system, where inventory tags transfer data to the cloud through the stationary IoT gateways with no human participation - yes, we can create a system like this for you using a QR Inventory software as a base, but this system will be more involved and will require custom development.

QR Codes vs NFC vs BLE Beacons vs Barcodes - Which Tags Work Better For The Inventory Management

Should we use QR codes or barcodes for the inventory and asset tracking with a smartphone?

You can use either barcodes or QR codes - QR Inventory mobile application will scan QR codes, UPC barcodes and other barcode types - as long as the barcode types you are using are readable with a smartphone camera. If you already have inventory and assets labeled with the barcodes and they can be scanned with a smartphone, there is no need to re-label your assets or inventory. If your inventory and assets are not labeled, you can use QR Inventory software built-in tool to generate, layout and print QR code inventory tags. We discuss pros and cons of using QR codes vs barcodes vs other barcode types for the inventory management in more details here.

Is there any advantage of using NFC tags vs QR codes for inventory tracking with a smartphone?

There is an advantage in using NFC tags vs QR codes or barcodes for the smartphone inventory tracking, and this advantage comes with the higher inventory system cost. You can scan NFC tags much faster than QR codes or barcodes with a smartphone. You do not need to focus a smartphone camera for each asset or inventory item scan - just touching an asset with a smartphone will read NFC tag. NFC tag does not have to be in the line of sight, and can even be inside a package or casing. The drawback of using NFC tags for inventory management is the higher tags cost and more involved tags production. You will need to either purchase pre-encoded NFC inventory tags or use a special NFC tags printer and encoder. This additional expense is justified if you are regularily processing high volume inventory and asset transactions, and inventory scanning speed is an issue. You can find more detailed discussin on using QR codes vs NFC tags for inventory management and asset tracking in this blog article, and on using NFC tags in the QR Inventory software here.

What are pros and cons of using IoT technologies, such as bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons or RFID, for inventory management and asset tracking?

Bluetooth beacons allow you to further automate inventory management and asset tracking process. Instead of scanning each inventory item and asset individually, you can scan multiple assets and inventory items with one click. Bluetooth technology is a good alternative to RFID for the inventory management. Just like RFID you have a better precision and much higher speed of inventory processing as compared to the scanning of the individual QR codes or barcodes. Unlike RFID, you can use regular smartphones for the bluetooth beacon tags scanning, which makes it more attractive. Multiple company employees can use their own smartphones for inventory and asset tracking, and you do not need to purchase expensive RFID scanners.

Tracking assets and inventory across multiple field and warehouse locations.

How can we manage inventory / track assets across multiple field locations? I added Location as a custom field and inventory location is not being changed automatically.

QR Inventory mobile application tracks assets and inventory locations automatically when you process inventory transactions on a smartphone. You should not create a special custom field for the assets and inventory location. When you record an asset or inventory transaction in QR Inventory mobile application, you select from which location an asset or inventory is picked and / or to what location an asset or inventory item is moved. This information is sent from the smartphone to the cloud in real time, and asset location or inventory stock in the affected location is adjusted automatically.
You can review inventory stock and assets list by location on the inventory details page, in the inventory reports, and on a smartphone in the QR Inventory mobile application.

We keep inventory and assets on various job sites that change frequently. How do we manage inventory / track assets in these field locations? Should we enter all field inventory locations into the QR Inventory software?

You do not have to enter field inventory locations that change frequently into the QR Inventory software. QR Inventory allows you to have four types of assets and inventory storage locations:

  • Permanent Storage Locations.
    These are warehouses, offices or field locations (job sites, service trucks) where you store assets and inventory for a significant time. These locations should be entered into the QR Inventory software. When processing an inventory or asset transaction on a smartphone in the QR Inventory mobile application, a user will select from and to location from a dropdown list.
  • Remote Site or Person.
    These are field inventory locations that change frequently. Example: home address of a client for a one time installation, one off events locations, etc.
    It is impractical to keep a list of such locations in the QR Inventory software and constantly change them. Therefore, when inventory or assets are checked out, checked in or transferred from or to Remote Site or a Person, user enters a location name manually or scans it in from the location QR code.
  • Self.
    These are employees and users of the QR Inventory system. If a user checks inventory in, out or transfers asset or inventory to or from "self" (s)he will not need to enter a location. QR Inventory mobile application or online software recognizes who performed an inventory transaction and records the name of an employee automatically.


Do I need to enter a group for the warehouse or field inventory locations?

You do not have to enter a group for the inventory or asset locations. However, if you have a lot of inventory locations, combining locations into groups keep them better organized. You also can specify which inventory location group should appear in the QR Inventory mobile application for the specific inventory transaction type. This option helps you avoid long drop-down lists with the locations not relevant for the task at hand.

Tracking Inventory And Assets Transfer Between The Field And Warehouse

What are in, out and transfer inventory transaction types, and when should I use each type?

All inventory transactions that result in the transfer of the assets or inventory between locations should be transfer inventory transactions. Use in inventory transaction type for recording inventory or assets purchase, and out inventory transaction type for recording inventory sale or use for a project.
It is a common mistake to make inventory transactions for equipment rentals and returns, or for sending assets and inventory to the job sites and returning unused inventory in and out types. This is incorrect - when you rent an inventory or an asset out it is still your property, it is just changing locations - so it is a transfer transaction. The same is true for sending tools, equipment and materials to the job sites.
Use in inventory transaction types for the newly acquired inventory and assets (e.g. restocking), and out types for the inventory and assets that you are permanently disposing (e.g. sale, used for a project, scrap inventory, discard damaged asset, etc.). All other inventory transactions will be of type transfer.

Inventory and asset tracking transactions for the specific use cases.

How do I track field inventory between a warehouse and the temporary short lived job sites? What inventory transactions should I create?

Create a transfer inventory transaction, from Permanent Storage Location to the Remote Site for sending out inventory to a temporary job site, and transfer inventory transaction from the Remote Site to Permanent Storage Location for returning unused inventory back to the warehouse. When processing an inventory transaction in the QR Inventory mobile application an employee will select warehouse from the list, and type in or scan in temporary job site name.

I want to track inventory and assets locations at any given time. My employees pick up assets / inventory in the warehouse, place in the service trucks and then use for the installation / repairs at the job site. Some inventory can stay in the service truck or be returned back to the warehouse. How do I set up this workflow?

Create the following inventory tracking transactions for this situation:

  • Pick up at the warehouse (transfer). From Permanent Storage Location to Self. An employee will only need to select a warehouse from the list. After an employee pickes up inventory and records it in the QR Inventory mobile application, you will see that inventory or an asset is in the employee's possession.
  • Used for a job (out). From Self. An employee won't need to select any locations in the QR Inventory mobile application. When inventory usage is recorded the inventory items will be removed from the inventory stock. An employee can specify for what project and / or client inventory was used.
  • Return Unused Inventory (transfer). From Self to Permanent Storage Location. An employee will need to select warehouse from the list. After this inventory transaction is performed, inventory will be removed from the employee and added back to the warehouse inventory stock.


What asset tracking transactions should I create for the assets rentals and returns?

Create the following inventory tracking transactions for this situation:

  • Rent Out (transfer). From Permanent Storage Location to Person
  • Return From Rent (transfer). From Current Location to Permanent Storage Location. When you select Current Location, asset location will be determined automatically by the QR Inventory software, and an employee won't have to select a location. In this manner you can process multiple assets that were returned from the different places in one inventory transaction.
    Important! Current Location is only valid for the asset tracking transactions. Do not select this option for the inventory tracking, since inventory can be in the several different locations at the same time.


My assets are reusable containers that my company delivers to the clients, and then later picks up empty containers. I want to track these containers. How do I set it up?

Create the following asset tracking transactions for this situation:
  • Pick Up In The Warehouse (transfer). From Permanent Storage Location to Self. At this point you will see that an asset (container) is in the driver's posession.
  • Drop Off At Client (transfer). From Self to Person. When the driver records a container drop off in the QR Inventory mobile application you will see that the container is in the client's possession.
  • Pick Up At Client (transfer). From Current Location to Self. When container pick up is recorded in the QR Inventory mobile application you will see that the container is in the driver's posession.
  • Drop Off At The Warehouse (transfer). From Self to Permanent Storage Location. At this point a container is back in the warehouse.

Collecting Additional Data For The Inventory And Assets Tracking

What are "inventory transaction properties" and how are they different from the inventory and assets custom fields?

Custom fields are for keeping additinal information on the asset or inventory item. This information is related to a specific inventory line item or an asset.

Inventory transaction properties are related to the individual inventory or asset tracking transactions. For example, if you want to keep track of the inventory used for each project or job, Project Number or Job Number can be one of the inventory transaction properties. It is related to a specific inventory tracking transaction and not to the inventory line item. The same inventory line item can be used for multiple projects, and each inventory transaction will have different project number.

What are Item Level and Fraction Level assets and inventory custom fields?

In absolute majority of cases inventory and asset custom fields will be item level. Item Level custom fields always have the same value for all instances of the same inventory line item. For example, every Electrical Motor ABC123 will have the same specifications and the same PDF file with the technical documentation.
Fraction Level custom fields can have different values for the different instances of the same inventory line item. For example, the same medicine in two different boxes might have different expiration dates.
Fraction level custom fields are used for tracking quantity of the inventory line item with the different properties. For example, in the case of the medicine with the different expiration dates, you will be able to see that you have 10 bottles of medicine, out of them 3 will expire on date X, and 7 will expire on date Y.

What are Transaction Level and Item Level inventory transaction properties?

Transaction Level transaction properties will be filled out once per inventory transaction. These should be the properties that will always be the same for all inventory items or assets in the transaction.
Item Level transaction properties will be filled out separately for each inventory item or asset in the inventory transaction. These should be properties that can be different for each inventory item or an asset.
As an example, project can be a transaction level property, but item conditions will be an item level property.

QR Inventory and QR Mobile Data are brand names of inventory management and mobile forms software by AHG -- a provider of mobile and cloud-based applications for business. Our unified mobile platform improves business operations efficiency by eliminating manual tasks and physical paperwork, while providing a secure cloud storage for the business records, real time access to business data for all stakeholders, comprehensive data reporting and analytics. Headquartered in beautiful Boise, Idaho, AHG software is used to manage hundreds of millions of dollars annually in inventory and assets.

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Mobile Inventory Tracking With QR Inventory

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