Bottom: PHoto courtesy of Lantronix, TOP: Photo courtesy of Air Burners Inc.
Good FIT Air Burners Inc. puts QR codes on new equipment to get manuals, and sends out stickers for old rigs, too.

At all hours, the staff at Air Burners Inc., Palm City, Fla., answers phone calls and e-mails about maintenance and repair questions from operators of the company's waste processing units around the world.

The company's air-curtain burners cost up to $150,000 and are used in rugged environments such as landfills, construction sites and military operational zones—which leads to a problem. "They're usually far from where the manuals are, so operators call to find out about a lubricant or a fuse," says Norbert Fuhrmann, sales director. "We figured there had to be a better way to get them information they needed right away."

Enter QR, or "quick response," codes. The square modules with the Lego-like shapes can hold more information than bar codes. They have become increasingly common in advertising and publications. Many phones and mobile devices now have QR readers that can scan a code that takes the user to a website with more information. "We knew this was the perfect solution," says Fuhrmann. "Smart phones and iPads are everywhere, so we went with it."

The company's latest waste processing units have a sticker with two QR codes. One is for the operating manual, and the other is for servicing information. The operator can quickly download the needed information.

"The manual is in a format that's easy to read with a smart phone, and it's regularly updated," says Fuhrmann.

The company also is updating customers with older units by mailing them QR stickers. "We thought about letting customers print the codes from our website," says Fuhrmann. "The problem is that you really need to print them in a matte finish to work best under all light conditions, and we use a tough vinyl sticker that will last in extreme conditions."

User response has been positive. "They've really optimized it for the operator," says Kenneth Richardson, equipment operator, the Volusia County Public Works Dept., Daytona Beach, Fla. "If I need to replace an oil filter, I can look up the servicing code and find a selection [of filters], not just one." n