Spar buys into biometric access control

May 2009 Access Control & Identity Management

Protecting its distribution operations and boosting HR operations through the use of biometric access control solutions proved a bargain for Spar.

With the 1960s emergence of grocery chains in South Africa, a group of eight wholesalers was given the exclusive rights to the Spar name to service 500 small retailers. Now there are three friendly store formats, which are, Spar for neighbourhood shopping, Superspar for one-stop, competitively priced, bulk shopping and Kwikspar for every day convenience.

Being a concern that operates huge distribution centres nationally, with a lot of outsourced labour, Spar needed to control who entered the site and who was at work. The existing system on site kept breaking down with little or no support. The product was imported by an installer so the company only had one point of reference for its problems which caused endless frustrations.

When it came to implementing the new solution, Spar opted for Nkunzi Technisec as it was the client’s preferred integrator. In terms of finding an appropriate company to implement the solution, Spar did not put the project out to tender, but instead went straight to Nkunzi Technisec, who had already implemented a CCTV solution for Spar.

Nkunzi Technisec was approached by Spar with a list of problems it was currently experiencing on site. Nkunzi then tailored a solution around the client’s needs and functional requirements.

Migration to biometrics

When it came to motivation for the new system, the entire Spar group could see that its original system, a tag system was outdated, and the migration to biometrics was a natural path. Once everyone was on the same page, health and safety risks were mentioned to motivate the need for biometric readers in the workplace. Nkunzi sat down with each of the shop stewards and presented a white paper. After the presentation there was automatic buy-in from all parties concerned.

The new system had numerous strengths, such as making sure the right person is at work and on site, it also covered the problem of ghost employees from the contract labour company. Now the client has accurate data to correspond to the invoicing received and there is no more overpaying for labour and overtime.

Many of the departments were set to benefit from this new solution, however the two departments that required the most results were loss control (managing security and health and safety) and HR in terms of the payroll.

Once the solution was operational, it allowed for a seamless integration between the access control system and time and attendance with the interface into the CCTV monitoring system. Thus, Spar could monitor its employees’ whereabouts much more closely.

On time and budget

As the project was only handled by Nkunzi Technisec, progress was measured quite easily. A full project plan was submitted with milestone dates, and weekly project meetings were held.

According to Spar, the rewards that were sought-after at the beginning of the project were all met, and as originally specified, all milestones and features where achieved. Spar’s Lovemore Khumalo says that they could not have done anything differently and that they were completely happy with the new system.

Khumalo did mention that companies in similar situations should enforce a proper project protocol, and that they use technology that is proven and has an excellent backup.

Lastly Khumalo adds that the transition from tag to biometrics was smooth. “Now the loss control department does not have to worry about lost tags and HR knows exactly who is at work and who is not. Our main objectives were achieved.”

For more information contact Kevin Monk, Nkunzi Technisec, +27 (0)11 845 4050.

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