Security at Silicon Smelters

October 2004 Access Control & Identity Management

Project scope

Number of users: 350 employees, 1600 people enrolled eg: contractors and visitors.

Number of enrolment stations: one Sagem MEMS.

Number of biometric readers: eight Sagem MorphoAccess.

Mode of biometric operation: Identification (1:many) - fingerprint only.

Number of turnstiles: 4.

Sagem solution in the office
Sagem solution in the office

The history

Silicon Smelters is the largest operation of its kind in the western world. On this large site there was a strong need for access control and a reliable time and attendance system to improve safety conditions on the site, by ensuring that only authorised employees and contractors are allowed onto the site; to strictly control access onto the site and reduce the possibility of theft from the site; and to have accurate logs of all people entering and exiting the site.

The original system was based on traditional clock/punch card machines, which allowed employees to clock for each other without any means of detection. This had a negative impact on productivity, and on the bottom line.

Turnstar, Sagem and control box
Turnstar, Sagem and control box

The solution

"We wanted the best possible form of access control and hence selected a Sagem biometrics-based system," says the company's Gys Vermeulen.

Turnstar boom
Turnstar boom

The benefits

More accurate and faster access control as well as time and attendance managememt. Better reporting capabilities. A fully automated process.

Obstacles en route to a final solution

There was a perception that fingerprint readers would not be fast or reliable enough in a mining environment. In particular, a fingerprint only based system (independent of cards or PINs) was required. Hence convincing the relevant stakeholders to migrate to a fingerprint-based system took some time. But, the systems biometric performance exceeded all expectations.

Tenders, specs and implementation

Silicon Smelters issued a tender and awarded it to the company with the best solution for the best price. In the process, advice from consultants and experts was welcomed.

In summary

"The fingerprint readers have proven to be extremely effective in this environment," says Vermeulen. "Approximately 1600 people have been enrolled into the system, which includes full time staff and contractors. This allows us strict control over large, fluctuating numbers of people without any increases in expenses - as we do not need to issue any cards to anyone. If you operate in a harsh industry, do not invest in biometrics without properly testing the equipment first, and visiting similar sites where the system has been working for a decent length of time."

Fact file

Key service providers, products and solutions

System integrator: Control Instruments Polokwani, Karel De Bruin, 015 293 1475.

Biometrics: Sagem distributed by Ideco Technologies, Gary Jones, 011 442 0064,

T/A supplied and distributed by Clockwatch Distribution, Dani Taback, 0860 100 854.

Turnstiles supplied by Turnstar, Mark Eardley, 011 786 1633.

Silicon Smelters, Gys Vermeulen, 015 290 3000.


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