Magazine Article | September 1, 2001

Wanted: Accuracy, Uptime

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Having developed a time and attendance software solution, all that was needed was a data collection hardware vendor to call a partner. The basic hardware requirements: a product that is always accurate and never goes down.

Integrated Solutions, September 2001

Except for the now famous hanging chads from the 2000 presidential election, cardboard punched cards are practically obsolete. Right? Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The punched cards fell out of favor for most business processes by the 1970s, but the cardboard relics were widely used in time and attendance applications well beyond that timeframe.

It was in this environment of manual time and attendance processes that Bernard Keppler founded his company, Time Link International (Larchmont, NY), in 1986. As the president and CEO of the 40-employee software development business, Keppler remembers the transformations he has seen in the workforce management and data collection industries. "I felt very strongly that software would automate manual time and attendance processes that took so much time and resulted in so many errors," recalls Keppler. "As we experienced success with time and attendance software, we added labor distribution, access control, and scheduling solutions."

Data Collection Terminal Is Modular And Mobile
Keppler is enthusiastic about the potential uses of the Internet and wireless technology to expand his customer base. But, he is quick to point out that most of his current customers are using traditional technology - Time Link's software integrated with another vendor's hardware and the customer's enterprise. "From the very beginning, our company's goal was to produce the very best software. However, we had to find a reliable hardware vendor to partner with and sell complete solutions," says Keppler. In addition to the typical criteria for choosing a partner - good service, financially sound - Time Link had more specific requirements. The hardware vendor of choice had to produce data collection products that were easy to program, could reliably handle voluminous transactions, had programmable function keys, and came in modular designs. Adds Keppler, "The vendor that best met all of our requirements was Control Module (Enfield, CT). When we saw that we could interface to Control Module's devices, the company became our main vendor for time and attendance, data collection, and biometric terminals."

By integrating Time Link's software with Control Module's hardware devices, Keppler's company is able to create a unique set of solutions. For example, Time Link has a Canadian customer that uses a biometric time and attendance solution, which can be moved throughout the organization. The terminals are not hardwired to the wall. In fact, they are more like pictures. "The terminals are hung on the wall and can be taken down and hung at another location within the company. This was especially helpful to the company when it remodeled its buildings," states Keppler.

Handling Transactions At Peak Times
In addition to a modular design and integration compatibility, Time Link needed to select data collection hardware that was accurate and always online. With only 40 employees at Time Link, the company cannot afford to handle a stream of daily customer service calls. Of the 650 customers who have Time Link solutions in place, about 100 end users have more than 1,000 employees using the systems. One of the company's tier one accounts, New York Presbyterian Hospital, has more than 9,000 aggressively unionized employees using Time Link's data collection devices. "That account has been using our system for the past four years and collecting data for its payroll without any reported problems," explains Keppler. "If a large customer like that had support problems, it would kill a small company."

Keppler also points out that his company's software/hardware solution also has to handle transaction volumes that spike a couple of times each day. During the course of a workday, Time Link's software may process as many as 50,000 transactions. However, most of those transactions will take place when employees come to and leave from work. "Some vendors have solutions that can handle this type of transaction volume over 12 or 24 hours," says Keppler. "But, you really have to handle the volume during these peak times. If you can't do that, then the customer is not going to be satisfied."

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