Track Time and Attendance Using Swipe Cards, Badges or Pins 

Swipe cards are one of the more common ways to track time and attendance. This technology has been around for many years, and is very reliable in preventing time theft and keying errors. In addition, swipe cards are relatively economical compared to other hardware, particularly biometric hardware.

How Swipe Cards, Badges, and Pins Work

Each employee is given a credit-card-like swipe card embedded with their employee id. When the employee arrives at work, he swipes the card through a machine to punch in. When he finishes work he swipes the card again to punch out.

Badges have bar codes or magnetic strips which are scanned or swiped, or a pin which is keyed into a pad to identify each individual employee. Employees swipe, scan, or input their pin at the beginning and end of each shift in the same way the swipe card works.

Swipe card, badge, or pin technology may be either server based, or SaaS (Software as a Service).

Server or PC based systems must be connected to a power source and either plugged into a phone line or connected to a cable which runs from the clock to the PC. But be aware that coaxial cables are only effective for 1000 feet, so if your PC is farther away than the clock, this connection method will not work. In this case, it can be connected to your Local Area Network in the same way a work station is connected.

With the PC based system, all the information is held in the clock's memory until it is retrieved by the payroll specialist. To retrieve the information, the payroll specialist must "poll" the time clock to retrieve the data by entering through the software loaded on the PC. Many companies do polling daily to ensure the data is current, and to be able to run reports. In addition, if the power goes out, the potential exists for information to be lost; although most clocks have a battery which can run from 5-20 hours, if a significant outage happens the data is at risk.

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Using an SaaS system to track time and attendance does not require polling. When the employee swipes his card, the data immediately is transferred to the time and attendance program provider's web server. An SaaS system time clock needs a power source and a connection to the internet; each clock has an IP address and sends the punches over electronically to the web server. Because data is transferred immediately, power outages are not a concern.

Swipe Card, Badge, or Pin Benefits

Using swipe cards, badges or pins to track time and attendance enables various useful reports to be generated. For example, the payroll specialist can run an "Approaching Overtime" report to see which employees are approaching 40 hours. This enables staff to change the work schedule accordingly to minimize overtime payout. A "Tardy Report" may be run to compare scheduled hours versus actual time punched in and out. Other reports may be generated which analyze certain trends in employee hours and which are useful in planning.

Swipe card, badge or pin time and attendance hardware is particularly useful for Job Costing; for example, if an employee is assigned to one task for several hours, and then reassigned to another later in the day, he may use the keypad to key in a job id # when he begins the first task, punch out when he is finished, and punch in again with the next job id# when he begins the second task.(See our Job Costing area for more information.)

Who should use Swipe Cards, Badges or Pins to Track Time and Attendance?

Most companies should do well using swipe cards, badges or pins. Unless you have significant problems with "Buddy Punching"(a coworker getting his "buddy" to swipe his card for him even if he hasn't yet arrived at work), this is probably the best time and attendance hardware for you. It is less expensive than Biometric hardware to purchase, and costs less to maintain. This method will work well to prevent time theft and eliminate keying errors, saving you money.

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