Biometric T&A for guards

November 2013 Access Control & Identity Management, Transport (Industry)

A leading multi-disciplined company within the facilities management umbrella, Bosasa has nine brands and operational business units, all headquartered at Mogale Business Park on the West Rand. The contract to provide T & A systems for its internal and outsourced guards was awarded to Centurion-based ERS Biometrics. The project was managed by the Risk Management Solutions division of Bosasa. ERS also installed the T & A system at Bosasa’s head office for the 450 members of staff.

There are a total of 18 ERS Smartscan biometric fingerprint devices installed to monitor the 2000 security guards stationed at the seven airports – Cape Town International, King Shaka in Durban, Port Elizabeth, George, Kimberley, Bloemfontein with OR Tambo having the majority of 700 guards.

The Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) is a long-standing client of Bosasa whose security responsibilities covers both airside and landside areas of airport terminal space, vehicle parking lots, storage facilities, stops for transportation, train stations and more.

“The very nature of airport security – vast areas and difficulty in keeping track of guard movements – demanded a different solution which is now in place. To intensify security, our guards are rotated regularly to different sectors around the airport site, which can make control complicated. With the ERS system, they do not have to re-register their fingerprints at the different sectors. We can efficiently monitor our staff, both for their personal well-being and to ensure optimum postings for our client. It provides back-up proof and fortifies claims of action hours. We can react much quicker as we will know within minutes if we have staff shortages on a shift and can then deploy standby staff to fill postings, ensuring continuous and quality security services. In addition, time is saved which lightens the workload on our payroll department,” explained Jacques van Zyl, chief financial accountant of Bosasa.

“A major advantage of implementing a fingerprint biometrics time & attendance system to monitor the action hours of our security guards is that it lends credence by proving our staff is on duty.”

To teach guard staff how to operate the biometrics system Bosasa uses their cartoon character Brigadier Boselo.
To teach guard staff how to operate the biometrics system Bosasa uses their cartoon character Brigadier Boselo.

End of timesheets

Before automating with biometrics, Bosasa was using time sheets for the 7500 staff members that were manually captured onto VIP Payroll by the wages department. “The volume became too much. We experienced problems in deciphering handwriting, unit leaders signing time sheets without verifying that the staff member did work the hours indicated and difficulty in meeting the tight payroll payments dates.

There was suspicion of fraudulent practices but this could not be proven, so management took the decision to use technology to its advantage and implement the bio­metric system.

The next step, according to Van Zyl, is to further extend control procedures. “Full implementation of the ERS system and integration into our payroll system is still new and the intention is to eventually have all our staff in all our associated companies registered on the system. Once we have resolved the minor teething problems we will use the additional functions provided on the ERS Smartscan devices for other control clocks, for example, for the security staff on nightshift to clock every hour to verify independently that the correct number and grade of guard is on site and awake at all times.


Bosasa was aware that the T & A system would be met with resistance from staff. The company devised an education strategy to allow employees to get use to the idea and be familiarised with the new procedures. As communication with the security guards can be problematic, particularly because of language barriers, Bosasa’s design department developed an awareness campaign. The points conveyed include that pay queries due to time sheet issues, late time sheet submissions and late payments, and errors due to paperwork mistakes would all be eliminated.

“To carry the campaign further”, says brand co-ordinator Geoffrey Green, “we use our character Brigadier Boselo, who is the spokesperson for the security staff and motivates them to be alert and professional, to explain in easy-to-understand cartoon strip format, the concept of biometric T & A control.”

For more information contact ERS Biometrics, +27 01 0593 0593,,


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