Much more than access

May 2010 Access Control & Identity Management

Mine security is also about the safety and security of the employees.

Biometrics – from the Greek words bio (life) and metric (to measure) – provides absolute certainty of people’s identities, and can be linked to various workforce management solutions, from access control to HR applications.

“Fingerprint biometric technology is used on mines for access control on turnstiles, booms and gate motors; time and attendance; canteen management applications; visitor recognition; parading; and random search as well as random alcohol testing,” says Kobus le Roux, product manager at Stanley Security Solutions. “Standard biometric applications are time and attendance with integrated access control. This allows for anti-passback. In other words we control zones where people are allowed or not allowed, and ensure that employees clock their time and attendance via the access control system before they leave the premises.

“Biometrics has been used to integrate into alarm systems and Stanley’s BlueLine and S-Qube systems with biometrics have been used to integrate into ERP solutions like SAP etc.”

And how easy is it for a company to change from traditional systems (such as card-based systems) to biometric systems?

“All Blueline card systems can be replaced by biometric systems,” says Le Roux. “The biometric readers will be added to the system and only an additional TCP/IP connection and IP address is required. The major challenge is to get TCP/IP network to all the areas where readers are required. Change management from the customer’s point of view is required. The employees take some time to get used to the change from cards to biometrics.”

But Le Roux points out that the benefits delivered by biometric solutions outweigh these challenges. “We use Sagem products, distributed locally by Ideco. Sagem has proven itself in harsh mining environments with sun, rain, dust etc; buddy clocking is eliminated; there is better control of safety as no unauthorised people are on site; there are no lost cards; reliable site clearance reports can be issued for blasting; time and attendance records are accurate; and there are MiFare options available for areas where there is no network.”

In selecting a biometric solution, Le Roux suggests mines: opt for quality equipment like Sagem; make sure that proper enrolment takes place, and he recommends using the MSO300; use display readers where possible (MA500+ and OMA520) for proper feedback from the system; and design the solution to cater for anti-passback, proper zoning etc.

SACO Systems, a division of Reutech Solutions, was born from a need in the mining industry for time and attendance solutions. This need eventually overflowed into the management of employees by means of access control.

“The use of biometrics ensures that accurate data is collected for calculating hours worked, which converts into productivity and interfaced to payroll systems such as SAP and VIP,” explains Freddy Niehaus, national sales and marketing manager at SACO Systems.

“Although traditional card technologies have served the industry well, many loopholes are known to both employer and employee. Therefore one of the first advantages achieved by any company replacing a traditional card system with SACO’s Enterprise Solution with fingerprint biometrics is the guaranteed accuracy of each employee’s payroll information. This is mainly owing to the elimination of the prevalent buddy clocking practice, whereby employees clock on behalf of one another. Mines are starting to realise the importance of accurately identifying who enters a zone, not only for productivity, but for occupational health and safety reasons as well. Adoption is slow and generally the first installation points are away from the shaft area. As we are dealing with lives, any form of false acceptance by a reader is a concern.

“I would advise any mine interested in switching to a biometric system to make sure the system selected can operate in both standalone and networked environments; is secure; and is accurate – to minimise both false acceptance and false rejection rates.”

For more information contact Ideco, +27 (0)11 745 5600,,


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