PUNCHING IN WITH A FINGERRead Now
Fingerprints are becoming more of a tool in the construction world today. Superintendents, foremen and project managers of Anderson Columbia Co. Inc. are seeing this firsthand with the introduction of TimeShift to the company, a new system that lets employees clock in with their fingerprint.
The system is supposed to be fully integrated into the company during the month of October or November of 2020, said Bert Myers, assistant controller for the company, with field testing currently being conducted. The fingerprint captured will not only tell the time the employee punched in but also the location, he said.
“We can see if they’re at the job site or if they’re across town when they clock in,” Myers said.
Kiosks will go in every physical location, such as offices, plants and labs, with on-the-job employees clocking in through an app and an adapter on a phone. The system is expected to be a more efficient and faster way of punching in than the previous Viewpoint Field Time app used on a tablet.
“The goal is to marry job-cost accounting and biometrics,” he said. “It could help save around 20 minutes a day per employee.”
Richard Parker, a paving foreman for the company from Lake City, Florida, received the new system for testing and said he believes in the success of it. The only complaint from his paving crew being that since everyone must clock in at the same place, not everyone clocks in at the same time.
“The times are going good, and the system is much quicker than Field Time,” he said.
Anderson Columbia Co. Inc. started looking for a system similar to this around seven years ago when it realized no companies produced anything similar for purchase, Myers said. With no competition and no similar products, the infrastructure company decided to write its own app and code with hired programmers being managed from within the company.
Myers said he expected the project to take a year, but the development and testing phases ended up lasting a total of three. This early system did not rely on fingerprints, but facial recognition, which came with its own bugs, he said. From 2017 to early 2019, the company worked on debugging the system, but during June 2019 the infrastructure company put the project on hold to rethink elements of the project and implement different strategies.
After deciding to stray away from the facial recognition aspect, Anderson Columbia Co. Inc. hired Mutual Mobile, a research and product development company out of Austin, Texas, to help develop the project using fingerprints in Fall of 2019. Within a year of development, the infrastructure company began releasing the system to certain employees for testing during the second week of September 2020, Myers said.
A completely new, bug-free code took about a third of the time as the first attempt for around a third of the price. The infrastructure company also hired a company to produce the kiosks, since TimeShift is the first product of its kind, he said.
Joshua McDougal, a project manager out of Lake City, Florida, said he thinks it is great; the software is simple and extremely user-friendly. Unlike using paper logs or barcodes, the person must be present at the office or job site to clock in.
“We have a lot of employees. Payroll is a lot of money and anything we can shave off will be good,” he said. “I believe you should get paid for when you work and don’t get paid for when you don’t work.”
Rusty Jernigan, a project superintendent out of the company’s West Florida division who also received early access to the system, agrees with him. Once the kinks are worked out, it will be great for keeping track of time and deterring time theft, he said.
“I don’t think most guys are like that,” he said. “But this system will do better at tracking everything.”
Myers said he is excited for when TimeShift will be established throughout entire company. More time will be saved with less stress being put on the company, even when hiring new employees.
“New hires will be fingerprinted on the day of hire, so they will be in our system,” he said. “Anyone can clock in from anywhere.”
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Wyatt Schreiber, Magazine Manager and Content Producer for Anderson Columbia Co., Inc.