Three Practical Biometric Solutions for Time Tracking In the Field

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Paper Timesheets Could be Costing Your Company

One of the most common issues in tracking employee time is “buddy punching” where one employee punches the clock for another employee is who late to work, leaves early, or is absent altogether. Buddy punching is relatively easy to accomplish when a company collects its time for field or shop employees using paper timesheets, punch cards, bar code badges, or proximity cards. All that is required is for the “buddy” in attendance to fill out the paper timesheet, or to scan the other buddy’s badge or card.

The toll for buddy punching can be very high. According to a survey by the American Payroll Association, three out of four U.S.employers suffer time theft through buddy punching at a cost of 2.2% of gross payroll annually. Annually, this runs into millions of dollars for businesses. And yet, there is an excellent chance that this amount is substantially understated. The survey statistics are based upon employees who were willing to admit to buddy punching. It seems pretty likely that the number of guilty employees who did not respond is much higher.

Fortunately for employers, there are ways to overcome buddy punching. They vary in format, and the reliability of each has a direct correlation to its cost.

USB Fingerprint Scanners

USB fingerprint scanners are probably the most popular of all biometric solutions because they are small, portable, and cheap. Most meet the US Federal Information Processing Standard 201 (FIPS 201) for Personal Identification Verification (PIV) of Federal Employees and Contractors. The scanners are also certified by the FBI. They have 2 modes – one for recording fingerprints and one for scanning to compare against the recorded fingerprint. To use in the field, they are connected to a laptop or, in some cases, a tablet. They are also the least reliable because they only read a single fingerprint, sometimes making accurate readings very difficult if the glass or finger is dirty or if the finger is cut.

Biometric Time Clocks

Time clocks with biometric options are a definite upgrade from USB fingerprint scanners in terms of accuracy and reliability. These devices accept input from fingerprint readers as well as many other non-biometric options such as bar code readers, mag stripe card readers, and HID proximity readers. They can connect directly to your network or via Ethernet, and they will store multiple fingerprints for more accurate comparisons. They are also very durable and can usually last for several years. But they also have a few drawbacks. They are significantly more expensive than USB fingerprint scanners, are stationary, require an AC electrical connection, and can track a very limited amount of information (jobs, phases, cost codes, etc).

Handpunch Clocks

Handpunch clocks offer the ultimate in biometric security. Hand-geometry is highly accurate, and is generally not affected by rings, small adhesive bandages, false fingernails and the like. Employees clock in and out by entering their ID number and placing their hand on the handpunch unit. Each time the employee punches, the terminal compares a three dimensional image of the employee’s hand to a stored image from when the employee was enrolled. The hand’s size and shape are used to verify their identity with extreme accuracy. The typical verification time is only one to two seconds.

In addition to providing greater security, handpunch devices also do not require a company to maintain stocks of badges, time cards, ribbons, or other supplies. Their initial cost is significantly greater than that of biometric time clocks, but in the long run, they actually may be a cheaper option.

Related Article:  Buddy Punching Issues In Mobile Time Tracking

So, which is the best option? That will be totally dependent on each individual situation. Are you a small company with a limited budget? If so, you’ll most likely want to go with the USB fingerprint scanners. If you are a bigger company with a slightly greater budget, biometric time clocks might be attractive to you. But, if you are a large company with a substantial budget, then handpunch devices may offer you the best overall solution.

Then again, sometimes there is no better security than vigilant management.

mJobTime can work with or without any of these options. Whether you’re searching for a new system or looking to upgrade your existing one, register for a demo with one of our experienced and knowledgeable sales professionals to see why more and more contractors are choosing mJobTime for their mobile time tracking needs.

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

–Amelia Earhart

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