Time Clock Systems

The time clock is the electrical or mechanical device or software that identifies the current time and associates it with a particular employee. Common clock types used in time clock systems include manual, automated, biometric and distributed.

Manual Time Clock

An example of a manual time clock is the classic punch clock, which an employee uses by placing a time card in the slot and then pressing a button to activate the punch. There are also electronic manual time clocks available today, but overall, they are quite similar to their classic counterparts. Manual time clock systems are relatively simple and inexpensive but limited in terms of features.

Automated Time Clock

An automated time clock doesn’t require a punch. The most common automated time clock systems work by sliding an identification badge through a slot, much like a credit card. An increasingly popular type of automated time clock is a proximity clock, which activates whenever an ID badge or similar item gets within range.

Biometric Time Clock

A biometric time clock is another form of automated time clock, but it doesn’t require an ID badge; instead, it uses a human characteristic. The most practical biometric clocks currently use fingerprints, but other options include voice identification and retinal scans. Biometry is generally used when security is a significant concern.

Distributed Time Clock

Many tend to think of time clocks as physical, standalone devices, but that isn’t always the case. Many time clock systems are software based, which allows them to be integrated into other systems. Consider a building that requires employees to swipe an ID badge to gain access. In this scenario, a standalone time clock is inefficient since it can just be part of the distributed system and identify and log the employee wherever they enter.

Recoding Mechanism

Time clock systems must have a recording mechanism, and that mechanism can be either manual or automated.

Manual Time Recording System

A classic time clock uses a manual recording system. The punch is the recording mechanism, and the time card is the media upon which the system records. Manual time clock systems also require an additional step: A person or machine must now read those cards and collect the data so that it can be used.

Automated Time Recording

In an automated system, the person is identified, the time is noted and then this information is added to an attendance database automatically. The biggest advantage to such an approach is that it’s far less prone to recording errors. Another advantage is that the system can analyze the data as it happens, and the business has access to comprehensive automated reports related to the attendance data.

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