Small Install Equals Big Profits

A merger creates a time and attendance challenge for an international dairy equipment company. An integrated, single time clock installation solves the problem. Consequently, other divisions of the company want to move to the same system. Are you realizing the long-term opportunities of your smaller installs?

Imagine the problems you would encounter if your employees used two different time and attendance systems within one building. Your payroll department staff would be pulling their hair out in frustration. Your supervisors would be wasting valuable time manually tracking employee attendance and benefit time. Employees would be constantly contacting supervisors about time clock issues such as "missed punches." Not what you would call an "efficient" system. Unfortunately, that's exactly the predicament the Westfalia-Surge (Naperville, IL) warehouse faced in early 1999.

Westfalia and Surge, two of the world's most recognized producers of dairy milking systems and dairy farm supplies, merged in March of 1999. As part of the merger, Westfalia added additional employees to Surge's 150,000-square-foot distribution warehouse. However, the Westfalia and Surge employees each continued to use their own time clocks – neither of which were integrated into any computer system.

Losing Track Of Time
The shipping and receiving division of the facility had only one supervisor for 60 employees. With the merger and the additional employees, the supervisor had become overwhelmed with trying to coordinate the two different attendance systems. Furthermore, the payroll department was encountering time card mistakes, which often resulted in writing extra checks. Finally, the warehouse's bell schedule – which signaled employee breaks and shift changes – wasn't working properly with the existing time clocks. Westfalia-Surge decided it needed a new time and attendance system.

After seeking bids from four companies, Westfalia-Surge chose RAI Technology (LaGrange, IL) to install the new system. "Westfalia-Surge didn't want to waste time," explained RAI President, Ron Henricksen. "The whole process from negotiation through installation only took three weeks."

Taking Control
Initially, this was a simple install: One Acroprint ATR9800 time and attendance system and an RS-485 communication port. The ATR9800 system consisted of one bar code reader with "swipe and go" capability and all the applicable software for reporting. RAI provided all the shipping and receiving employees with new bar-coded ID badges and then connected the system to the existing bell relays and the supervisor's PC. "The bar-coded cards were much more reliable and durable than the old punch cards some of the employees were using," stated Henricksen. All the shipping and receiving employees now had a centralized location for punching the time clock. The entire install and training took only four hours and cost $3,500.

"The Acroprint system tracks sick days, personal days, vacation days, or any other criteria. It even allows for automatic time rounding – eliminating a lot of disagreements with employees," Henricksen said. In addition, the ATR9800 allowed the supervisor to see which employees were punched-in per shift and which employees were approaching overtime. But for all the new system's positive points, it was still not connected to the payroll department. The supervisor still had to print his attendance reports and personally deliver them to the payroll department.

An Expanding Solution
Once the initial install was completed, other divisions within the warehouse started to see the time and attendance systems advantages. "We ended up connecting five more computers (and another clock for another division), including one in payroll, to the initial system," Henricksen said. Once finished, payroll could create a report and then integrate it into an existing program – never having to generate any paper by hand.

Dan Schell