Managing a large workforce is complicated. Managers and business owners need to keep track of what their employees are doing - where, when, and why? In an increasingly competitive global market, effective workforce management can be a key differentiator.
Carlo Klopper, MD of FS-Systems. shares his thoughts on electronic access control, workforce management and key emerging trends in technology.
What are some of the major changes in the access control industry over the past few years?
Klopper: Traditionally access control hardware and software belonged to the physical security domain, managed by the security manager and serving primarily as a deterrent to keep unauthorised staff and visitors from entering restricted areas.
Over the past few years we have seen marked change in the use of access control solutions, with a strong drive to integrate the physical and logical security space with business processes and policies. We see the access control system now being integrated with time and attendance, payroll, SAP, safety systems, training and induction, vending applications to just name a few.
What is a good example of the kind of value business stakeholders can expect from access control solutions?
Klopper: I will try to elaborate using one of our mining clients for example. Our client has a workforce of around 20 000 employees that enter and exit their site every day.
If they average a 12-hour shift, that is 240 000 productive hours that can be tracked and optimised each day. On the first day we went live with the biometric access control solution on site, it was already apparent that more than 600 employees arrived more than 1 hour late for shift. Managers are now able to see in real-time if an employee did not arrive for his or her shift, and can instantly determine what additional resources will be required as well as the associated induction and skills required to fill in for the absent employee. Through use of technology a process that was previously extremely difficult to manage manually, has become streamlined.
Apart from the obvious time and attendance application, there has been a massive improvement in ensuring that employees can only enter the mine if they have valid medical checks and their inductions are up-to-date. In the past this was all done through a manual paper system, open to errors and was enormously time and people intensive. The previous process exposed our client to significant compliance and health and safety risks. The biometric access control solution is now being used to integrate with canteen management.
What do you see as key emerging trends in technology?
Klopper: I think we will see a slow, but steady change happening with peripheral hardware and devices. We have seen clients in South Africa increasingly moving from access control cards to using biometric devices. I think we will continue to see substantial growth in this market, a gradual price reduction and an increase of fingerprint scanners.
There will be a move to less intrusive secure biometric scanning devices, such as retina and facial biometric scanners. If you just look at your smartphone these days, you unlock it with your fingerprint. I can see that smartphones and near field communication will completely replace traditional access control cards.
By using your phone we are able to link a badging event with a physical GPS location, and move to less obtrusive soft access barriers. Through using phones as access devices we can immediately push for an action to be taken to your smartphone once there has been interaction with the access control system. An example will be that if your phone passed a certain point, you will have a few seconds to present your fingerprint on your phone, or an alarm will sound in the control room, and your phone will be tagged for tracking. For hardware and controllers, we will see a similar global trend of moving to the cloud. With readers, controllers etc. purely being IP connected information collection devices. In the not too distant future would see all access control software and services moving into a cloud hosted environment.
Watch the whole interview with Klopper:
For more information, go to www.fs-systems.co.za
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