When G4S Secure Solutions first developed its XTime workforce management solution about 15 years ago for a couple of large mining clients, it could not have imagined what the system would eventually grow to become. Through continual in-house development, XTime has evolved into a fully fledged access control, time and attendance and visitor management solution capable of interfacing with all the major enterprise reporting systems (ERS) and payroll platforms.
According to G4S software development manager, Johan van Heerde, XTime has thus far enjoyed the best adoption by clients operating in mining, heavy industry and government/parastatals, with a footprint covering roughly 60% of the large mining and industrial sites in South Africa. However, he points out that it offers benefits to any organisation with a large workforce that is typically paid according to time worked, or not worked, in order to keep track and manage overtime, short time and so on. “We are currently exploring how features that have already been developed for XTime can benefit clients in other industries such as construction, hotel and leisure, and others,” he states.
Van Heerde believes that XTime offers significant advantages over competing solutions. “By taking the time to speak with our clients face to face, we are in a perfect position to learn what new features they want, and our software development strategy is to always be open to new ideas for improvement and added functionality,” he states. Some of the extra features that have been added in this way over the years include the likes of health and safety, fatigue management and canteen management, among others.
Since no two organisations’ requirements are the same, the system is modular to allow each client to fine tune it for their particular needs. It is licensed as a core module, with optional activation of additional modules such as for mining or equipment. Typically hosted on the client’s own server as per IT policy and in line with PoPI (protection of personal information), G4S is also able to host the system and database on its own servers.
Further flexibility is demonstrated by XTime’s extensive integration between many hardware vendors’ platforms and the G4S system controller, allowing it to be used in existing installations. For new projects, G4S has partnered with local manufacturers in order to offer its own hardware solution.
“The system controller itself includes a subset of the database onboard to ensure full validation on- or off-line,” explains van Heerde. “The strength of the controller lies within our firmware and not so much the actual controller hardware, as that portion can be generic across various suppliers. The system is very flexible and can be configured and segmented in various ways to accommodate a wide variety of physical limitations, such as network speed, down-time and lack of infrastructure.
“Another strong point is our generic interface platform which forms the foundation of most of our payroll and ERP system interfaces. XTime caters for a vast range of identification and verification mediums, i.e., RFID, active tags, biometrics (finger, facial, vein) etc. The system has been tried in tested in many sectors and environments, including mining, oil and gas, and manufacturing, to name just a few,” van Heerde says.
Van Heerde says G4S’ strategy is to continue to expand XTime’s penetration into markets beyond those in which it already has a strong foothold. He believes its already powerful capabilities, combined with the company’s commitment to listen to what the market wants and enhance it accordingly, will see the XTime solution grow from strength to strength in the years to come.
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