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A ground-breaking approach
pioneered by Fumagalli

16 June 2015

Did you know that the QR code was created to control the supply chain?

It is all due to the intuition of a Japanese engineer who wanted to improve the logistics processes of Toyota.  


The QR code, or Quick Response Code, is a two-dimensional barcode, the evolution of the linear bar code released on the market in 1974.

It was the brainwave of Japanese engineer Masahiro Hara, which he had while looking for a solution to improve the logistics processes of a supplier for global automotive giant Toyota. Its design came about almost by accident in an attempt to overcome the limitations of the barcode.

In all production chains, but especially in those complex as that of a car company, certainty, versatility, storage capacity and the speed information can be read are fundamental at each step. The QR code has proved a winner, as it represents a revolution in the global “labelling” system: a small square that can store over 7000 numeric characters and be decoded rapidly.

Something of a modern miracle, it multiplies the number of eyeballs available to check the quality of products and correct any errors. Compared to older systems, the competitive advantage of QR is its ease and flexibility of use, which leaves it predecessors standing. Just consider that the old bar code only contained 20 characters and, therefore, allowed very limited combinations. It is obvious, then, that the QR code presents a novel way to read and extract information from the products themselves.

Thus, Masahiro Hara’s invention became part of the daily lives of millions of people: all that is needed is a smartphone and an app – and no license fees – to reveal the virtual world hidden in an object.

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