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Old 12-08-2003, 03:00 PM
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 26
Default Mobile Attendance Tracking at Williams Service Group

<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='' target='_blank'></a><br /><br /></div><i>Are those inventory records accurate? Are all workers accounted for? Handheld PCs with built-in scanners help construction firms keep track of what’s really happening out in the yard.</i><br /><br />Williams Service Group (a division of Williams Group International, Stone Mountain, GA) is using mobile attendance tracking – the equivalent of a time clock in your pocket - during construction of a large power plant in Dresden Ohio, and at many other similar locations throughout the United States where fixed scanning stations are not feasible or available. The Dresden plant has a number of entrances to accommodate different types of equipment. Using the handheld devices to scan employee badges eliminates the possibility of people slipping through undetected.<br /><br />The attendance data integrates with the company’s payroll and security systems, and also helps address safety concerns regulated by OSHA. “If there is an accident, I can give an accurate count of who is on the job site, when they arrived, and where they entered,” notes Ed Hayes, systems analyst for the Dresden site and responsible for managing the new system. <br /><br />Scanning is performed by members of the local labor union. While this is generally a new experience for them, Hayes reports that any initial unease goes away after a few minutes of training. As shown in Figure 1, the process is extremely simple. When an employee’s ID badge is scanned, the ID number and time are displayed on the handheld screen and linked to the employee record.<br /><br /> <img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 1: TimeTrack Scan Badge Screen (Handheld)</i> <br /><br />The attendance tracking program is called TimeTrack and is <a href="">available from SyntegraTech</a>. TimeTrack combines a Microsoft Access-based workforce database on the desktop with a SYWARE Visual CE application on the handheld. Visual CE is often used by companies to create their own custom forms, as well as by software developers like SyntegraTech.<br /><br />With TimeTrack, when the operator drops the handheld unit into the dock, the clock in/clock out data automatically flows into the Access program, which processes it just as if it has been punched by a fixed time clock PC workstation (also an option in TimeTrack). It’s a much more efficient approach than creating paper records and keying the same data into the central computer in what amounts to a duplication of effort. As shown in Figure 2, the desktop Access program includes numerous options for generating reports, managing the workforce database, and creating bar-coded ID badges.<br /><br /> <img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 2: TimeTrack Main Menu (Desktop)</i> <br /><br />The flexibility of the database enables powerful reporting functions to help make workforce decisions. Daily force reports indicate by trade and company how many workers are onsite, how many are absent, and important trends. The system can generate daily and historical staffing reports by craft and sub-contractor, tracking who is present, absent, and late. Reports can also be customized for specific subcontractors and individuals; for example, foremen can get a daily report of who is present from their group to help plan their workday.<br /><br />Effective tracking of attendance patterns can also be used to detect and prevent abuse. Hayes points to a case where two individuals were habitually arriving 30-45 minutes late. This information was detected by querying on all arrivals after 7:30 am, then checking for a pattern over time. Their excuse – that they were in another area of the site – no longer stood up to scrutiny since their badges had not been scanned.<br /><br />“It’s definitely a more secure method than ‘dropping brass,’” Hayes adds, referring to an old method – still seen at some sites – based on brass tags with employee ID numbers. If the foreman does not see a worker’s tag hanging on the wall, he assumes that the individual is absent for the day or no longer on the job site.<br /><br /><b><span>Customized Applications in Minimal Time</span></b><br />The handheld unit is manufactured by Unitech and uses the Windows CE 3.0 operating system. TimeTrack is available from SyntegraTech, a Bow, NH integrator and developer of commercial and industrial applications. <a href="">SYWARE’s Visual CE</a>, used to create the handheld application, is an intuitive, “drag &amp; drop” software development tool that greatly reduces time and cost compared to traditional coding. This ability to short-circuit the development process opens up new opportunities for companies that could benefit from these types of applications to meet a variety of productivity and communications challenges. <br /><br /><b>For further information, contact: </b><br /><br />Frank Yacano, Director of Business Development <br />SYWARE, Inc. <br />PO Box 425091, Kendall <br />Cambridge, MA 02142 USA <br />Phone: +1 617.497.1300 <br />Fax: +1 617.497.8729<br />Email: <br />Web: <a href=""></a><br /><br />- - - - - - - - - - <br /><span>The above article is a paid advertisement for SYWARE and does not necessarily represent the views of Pocket PC Thoughts.</span>
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