High-Tech Time and Attendance

By: Constructech

May 25, 2012

Being able to enter critical time and attendance data on mobile devices in the field has added a lot of value on construction projects. But the next wave of information collection can be done automatically—without any time entry at all.

M2M (machine-to-machine) technology, used in many areas of construction to track items such as fleets, tools, materials, and more, is now being leveraged to automatically capture time records and send to payroll—without any data entry from the employees at the jobsite.

Yesterday, ExakTime, www.exaktime.com, Calabasas, Calif., announced it is working with Cinterion, www.cinterion.com , Munich, Germany, a Gemalto Co., to allow customers to automatically capture and send records via a wireless network.

How does it work? A module from Cinterion in the JobClock Hornet hardware from ExakTime sends data wirelessly from the field to the software in the backoffice. This means payroll is able to process data faster and project managers can reallocate workers based on realtime information.

The technology is designed primarily for any business with hourly employees such as construction, and sends time stamps every hour for up to 30 days before the battery needs to be recharged.

Is this the next big trend for time and attendance tracking in construction? Possibly. But there are a few other high-tech alternatives that some contractors are considering.

Tim Wies, president, TJ Wies Contracting, www.tjwies.com , St. Louis, Mo., and president of AWCI (Assn. of Wall and Ceiling Industry), www.awci.org , Falls Church, Va., says, “Everybody is trying to figure out the next best way to get data back from the field, whether timecard data with your timecards, tracking your labor hours, and sign-in cost codes.”

Another option for tracking time and attendance: digital fingerprinting devices. Technology providers—such as FingerTec, www.fingertecusa.com , Brooklyn, N.Y.—offer biometric time clocks to log hours through a digital fingerprint scanner.

Workers simply punch in using their finger, a card, or a password, and the data gathered is sent wirelessly to software in the office. Construction companies can also choose to use a combination of fingerprint, password, and RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology for check in at the jobsite.

“Some people are using handheld devices to input all their timecards and send them electronically back into the office for verification, and going through payroll. Others are going to fingerprint scanning,” continues Wies. “There are a lot of new systems out there trying to eliminate the paperwork on the timecards and job costing and tracking.”

For construction companies, the methods in which to gather time and attendance data are changing. Advanced technologies such as M2M, RFID, and more can give contractors a high-tech way to gather time and attendance data at the jobsite.