We are looking for access control + good time and attendance in one system.
If you know of a system like this please let me know.
Longwinded detailed warning
I am part of a small manufacturing company with 400 employees spread out in about 15 buildings scattered around town. We are currently in the process of selecting an access control system. We want to start with 2 buildings and about 6 doors and expand to all our locations.
Our current time and attendance system is starting to grow a little old and currently does not have the capability for proximity tokens without some fairly expensive upgrading. Additionally, we have a relatively large number of locations and doors for 400 employees. Each one of these locations, depending on size, also requires at least 1 time clock. We currently have 28 time clocks.
For these reasons we are trying to find an access control system that also has more than basic time and attendance functions. More than just reporting door swipes and calculating elapsed time. We also need at least the following:
1.) A method to designate an attendance (time clock) punch independent of a door swipe. One of the many reasons this is necessary is because it is common for ours employees to go from building to building while staying on the clock. Since some doors will remain locked even during business hours, door access does not necessarily equal an in or out punch for attendance.
2.) Some type of rules based time calculation that can modify how the system calculates time. One example of this would be break time pay. If an employee leaves the premises during a normally scheduled break (quick run to the store), they are required to clock out. If the employee returns and clocks back in during the break period they will get credit for (be paid for) the time.
Both of these are common in time and attendance systems but apparently not in access control systems.
I have looked at a few time and attendance systems with very rudimentary access control and numbers of access control systems with very basic or no time and attendance functionality. I have also found a few that say that they do both but turn out to be completely separate systems that use the same tokens. I have not yet found anything that shares equipment, software/database and also meets our needs. We are not looking for anything exotic in either area, just basic access control and basic time and attendance. The problem seems to be the one system part.
Any good leads or good advice about what we are trying to do would be greatly appreciated.
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Thread: System Selection Advice
06-17-2011, 03:41 PM #1Junior Member
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System Selection Advice
06-17-2011, 05:32 PM #2
I've designed and specified many large scale access control systems and what you are asking for has been requested many times. I hate to tell you this, but I don't think that there is any one system that provides full-featured access control as well as full-featured time and attendance.
Sure, many manufacturers claim to do this, but when you drill down, the capability just isn't there. The truth is, access control guys don't understand the nuances of timekeeping, and timekeeping guys don't fully understand access control.
Also, in a full-blown timekeeping system, you usually need more than just a card reader at the door; you often want to give employees the ability to enter job numbers, task codes, exception codes etc. into the system and this requires something like a keypad device with a display. I have never seen an access control system that would allow you to directly input and manipulate this type of data.
To get what you want, you are probably looking at two separate systems each with their own application software. You should be able to integrate the cardholder databases and use the same cards and card readers. With a little luck, you should also be able to feed the access control transaction data into the timekeeping system so the system knows when an employee enters or leaves. Entry of other types of data will probably need to be accomplished using another device connected directly to the timekeeping system.
I have tried to do a few of these types of projects in the past (mostly unsuccessfully) and would be happy to share my experiences if you want to call or email me.
I wish you luck with the project.
06-19-2011, 06:47 PM #3
I agree with Michael, particularly in view of the interfacility mobility of your employees that you describe (so that entering/leaving facilities does NOT necessarily equate to "clocking in/out").
The only thing I would add is the suggestion that if you cannot find two systems that can use the same physical credential (smartcard, etc.), you consider choosing one of them that operates on biometrics - e.g. iris scan/fingerprint/facial recognition - so that you do not have to manage (and employees do not have to carry) two forms of identification.
Personally, I would pick the time management system as the biometric system for several reasons, not the least of which is that the T&A system is inside, meaning that the biometric-based system would not require external readers (which can be more problematic with biometrics). Nor would it require as many biometric readers if you consider reader positioning strategically.
With only 400 employees, you should find the performance of a biometric system to be satisfactory in terms of speed of acquisition/identification, an acceptable error crossover rate - meaning an acceptable level of type I and II errors (false positive/negatives), etc.
Also, just as an aside, it might be worth it to consider whether your employees really need to be coming and going by way of all of these different doors. (For instance, you mention 2 facilities with 6 doors, or 3 doors each.) It's not at all unusual for facilities - even some that are fairly large, like hospitals - to have only one or two doors by which employees may enter and leave (except for emergencies, of course) when coming on or going off duty. The more doors, the bigger the potential for problems like internal theft, the more monitoring and alarm response challenges there are, the more readers to service...and other unnecessary management issues. You can have a better grade of system if you're spending your money on fewer access points (including better CCTV at those points, as well). In addition, restricting employee entry/egress in this way would also solve the question of where to place the T&A readers, right? In the example you cite, you would be cutting the total number of readers (and hence, many other issues) from 12 (six access, six T&A) to just 4 (two access, two T&A)...with similar savings across the rest of your facilities. That might be a very good selling point with your superiors.
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06-21-2011, 01:06 PM #4Junior Member
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- Jun 2011
Thank you both for your input.
Based on what I’ve seen available, I was afraid I was going to hear that nobody does both well but it was worth a try.
As for limiting access to doors, I will limit some of them but one of the owners philosophies it to make things convenient for the employees.
I guess it’s on to access control as a separate system using the same token as time and attendance.
I have done some research on a number of systems but will probably need to start over because I would stop looking as soon as I learned that it would not do time and attendance. Some of the notable ones I remember are:
We don’t really have that many requirements. Any full access control system should meet our needs. This is not a high security area, we are just trying to get rid of door keys and keep track of who is in what building and when. We don’t have security guards and only a few cameras. It is important to us that they have good customer support and support their products for the long haul. The only additional requirement that we have is that the door controllers must be capable of both online and autonomous offline operation. If all or part of our network is down, the doors must still work without access to the main server.
Any advice on a good, reliable easy to use access control system with at least basic functions would be appreciated.
06-21-2011, 02:23 PM #5
Before considering any specific products, you need to decide how you will purchase the system and who will install and maintain it. Most of the major brands are sold only through authorized local dealers. After-the-sale support is usually only through the dealer - most major access control manufacturers won't sell to or provide direct support to the end user.
So, if you are planning to have a dealer install your system, it is equally (if not more) important to find the right dealer first, and then choose your product based on what your local dealer(s) offer. It doesn't make sense to choose a product that is not sold and supported in your local area.
If you are planning a do-it-yourself installation, your choice of products will be somewhat limited. There are a few manufacturers who will sell to almost anyone through security and/or electrical distributors. These tend to be the smaller, less popular brands. There are also a few security dealers who sell the major access control brands via their website "store". Most of these types of sales are considered to be "gray-market" transactions as they are not approved by the manufacturer. If buying equipment on-line, be very careful to understand how the product will be supported and whether or not you can call the manufacturer directly for help after the product is installed.
The last time I checked, there were over 200 brands of access control systems on the market. Some of the leading/more popular brands of access control systems in the US include:
- Honeywell NexWatch
- Keri Systems
- Open Options
- Software House
Just about any of these brands should be able to meet your needs.
Most systems manufactured these days will work in "off-line" mode, so the doors will continue to operate even though communications with the server is lost. You can't make programming changes or receive status updates from the remote buildings when the communications link is down, but the controllers will continue to read cards, make decisions, and open doors.
06-21-2011, 03:23 PM #6Junior Member
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- Jun 2011
That’s a bunch of systems!
There are no local dealers as we are in a small town in West Texas. We would prefer to do our own install or at minimum the wiring. We have a maintenance department with a full electrical crew. Normally we do our own remodeling, electrical, HVAC, networking (IT) etc... Also, I was responsible for the install and maintenance of the time and attendance system.
I got one quote from a small security company in a nearby town and they wanted $15,000 for one building with 4 doors. A reader on one side, an exit button on the other and nothing else fancy. That was with us doing all the wiring. That sounded high to me. There is no way we can afford that kind of cost for all our buildings.
It sounded unlikely that we could purchase direct but I was still hoping to buy thru a distributor and do the install ourselves even if a couple of us have to take a class or something. If we were doing some sophisticated integration with security, fire, video, etc... I don’t think we would even try but I think we can do this.
The search goes on
06-21-2011, 06:08 PM #7
Biometric readers are good for several reasons. One cannot pass on a finger to a co worker. One cannot forget it it at home, but one can still damage it.
We have a client that has picture ID badges with a printed bar code for their T & A clocks. It uses the same credential for both systems.
We have another client who has turned on hard antipassback. This requires two readers per door. One into and one out. This is a feature that will let the authorized person in but if they do not present their credentials to leave they cannot exit get back in.
We have another client that has added T&A readers that must be used according to policy for entering and leaving the facility. This reader is assigned a mustering status in programming. This mustering reader is also used at mustering sites for emergencies such as tornado and fire mustering areas.
I have also integrated access control and T&A with external software.I tried being reasonable, I didn't like it.
06-21-2011, 07:27 PM #8
I will expand upon LARMGUY's "parts and smarts" suggestion:
One approach is to contract with a local security dealer/systems integrator located in a nearby major city, preferably within a few hours driving distance of your location. This dealer would design the system, provide the equipment, and give you shop drawings showing you how to install the cabling and field devices. This dealer would then come to your location, do the final hook-ups, install and configure the software, and provide you with training.
Afterwards, you could do most service work yourself, but would have this dealer as a back-up to provide technical advice and parts. The installation would be supported by the manufacturer, because an authorized dealer participated in the installation.
I have seen this approach used successfully in the past, particularly at facilities in remote locations.
06-22-2011, 10:41 AM #9Junior Member
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- Jun 2011
Regarding the quote, after taking out the cost of the software, the cost per door (with 1 reader) was still $3500.
We need the parts and could certainly use some smarts :-)
I really think we are going to go with something like a key fob. A few of our newer time clocks have an option for a fingerprint reader but most of our clocks don’t. We would like to use the same credentials for both systems. I was also concerned about their reliability and usability. One example is again our owner, he is older, works with his hands and has virtually no fingerprints left. Fingerprint readers on laptops will not work on him. I was thinking of using biometrics for a couple more secure areas as a second identification with the fob.
Is a fingerprint reader acceptable as a primary identification?
If so we could use that on the access control system, at least the employees would only have to carry one credential. Without some serious testing that would make me a little nervous.
Since we will not be doing antipassback, we don’t currently have plans to use the system for emergency reporting. However, we do have tornado shelters at or near all of our buildings and we could use terminals in each shelter for mustering.
Is there a database to search for dealers in an extended area or do I just use the yellow pages (web) and start calling?
06-22-2011, 01:42 PM #10
In your application, I think that proximity cards and/or fobs would be the way to go. I occasionally recommend biometric readers in conjunction with card readers at entrances into very high-security areas, but never as the primary access control device. Call me old fashioned, but I still don't consider biometric devices to be a replacement for card readers in most mainstream access control applications.
Because proximity cards and fobs can be used interchangeably with most prox readers, we usually specify a quantity of both and give the individual employee a choice as to which they would like best. My experience has been that about 2/3 pick cards, and 1/3 pick fobs.
To locate dealers, I would contact the regional sales manager at a few of the major access control manufacturers from the list I have given you. Ask him or her to provide you with a list of their authorized dealers in your area. You can often find the regional sales managers name and contact information on the manufacturer's website. If you contact several different manufacturers and keep getting the same dealer name over and over, this usually (but not always) tells you that the dealer is one of the more established and reputable dealers in the area.
Good luck with the project.