Thought Leadership Series: How access control can add tremendous value within large workforces
Managing a large workforce is complicated. Managers and business owners need to keep track of what their employees are doing - where, when, and WHY? In an increasingly competitive global market, effective workforce management can be a key differentiator. Carlo Klopper, the Managing Director of FS-Systems: Sub-Saharan Africa’s leading Safety and Electronic Security Solutions provider, shares his thoughts on electronic access control, workforce management and key emerging trends in technology.
Watch the video below for more insight on how Carlo elaborated on the topic.
Q1: What are some of the major changes in the access control industry over the past few years?
Traditionally access control hardware and software belonged to the physical security domain, managed by the security manager, and serving primarily as a deterrent to keep unauthorized staff and visitors from entering restricted areas.
Over the past few years we have seen marked change in the use of access control solutions, with a strong drive to integrate the physical and logical security space with business processes and policies. We see the access control system now being integrated with time and attendance, payroll, SAP, safety systems, training and induction, vending applications to just name a few. The new access control manager is now part of many departments within a large organization including HR, IT, C-Suite, Security, Safety, Compliance etc. Each of these stakeholders want the system to deliver value to their function, helping them enforce business policies more efficiently through less manual intervention.
Q2: What is a good example of the kind of value business stakeholders can expect from access control solutions?
I will try to elaborate using one of our mining clients for example. Our client has a workforce of around 20,000 employees that enter and exit their site every day.
If they average a 12-hour shift, that is 240,000 productive hours that can be tracked and optimized each day. On the first day we went live with the biometric access control solution on site, it was already apparent that more than 600 employees arrived more than 1 hour late for shift. Managers are now able to see in real-time if an employee did not arrive for his or her shift, and can instantly determine what additional resources will be required, as well as the associated induction and skills required to fill in for the absent employee. Through use of technology a process that was previously extremely difficult to manage manually, has become streamlined.
Apart from the obvious time and attendance application, there has been a massive improvement in ensuring that employees can only enter the mine if they have valid medical checks and their inductions are up-to-date. In the past this was all done through a manual paper system, open to errors and was enormously time and people intensive. The previous process exposed our client to significant compliance and health & safety risks. The biometric access control solution is now being used to integrate with canteen management.
Feeding a 20,000 strong workforce is a significant expense, therefore our client had a two-fold requirement. They wanted to verify that they are only billed for actual meals issued by the catering company to employees and also needed to ensure that only authorized personal are allowed within canteens. Now, meal vouchers are only issued to employees provisioned to work the day on presentation of a valid fingerprint. The log from the entire access event to the canteen is then used to verify the billing from the canteen management company.These are a few examples of a very long list of the real value our solutions have added to the bottom line while at the same time increasing safety and compliance.
Q3: What do you see as key emerging trends in technology?
I think we will see a slow, but steady change happening with peripheral hardware and devices.
We have seen clients in South Africa increasingly moving from access control cards to using biometric devices. I think we will continue to see substantial growth in this market, a gradual price reduction, as well as an increase of fingerprint scanners.
There will be a move to less obtrusive secure biometric scanning devices, such as retina and facial biometric scanners. If you just look at your smartphone these days, you unlock it with your fingerprint.I can see that smartphones and near field communication will completely replace traditional access control cards.
By using your phone we are able to link a badging event with a physical GPS location, and move to less obtrusive soft access barriers. Through using phones as access devices we can immediately push for an action to be taken to your smart phone one there has been interaction with the access control system. An example will be that if your phone passed a certain point, you will have a few seconds to present your fingerprint on your phone, or an alarm will sound in the control room, and your phone tagged for tracking. On hardware and controllers, think we will see a similar global trend of moving to the cloud. With readers, controllers etc. purely being IP connected information collection devices. In the not to distant future would see all access control software and services moving into a cloud hosted environment.
Q4: At FS-Systems how are you aligning your organization with this changing landscape?
At FS-Systems we have a strong focus on attracting and developing top talent project engineers and technical personnel. With the focus shifting in all domains of our business to IP and cloud based technologies, we have invested in training our teams in IT networking, software administration etc. We are constantly up skilling our teams on new products and technologies, and driving skills transfer across our teams.
Having the technical understanding on the products is important, however with more business sub-systems integrating and feeding off the access control systems, and more business stakeholders expecting tangible value to be delivered to their domain - it is CRITICAL for us to really understand our clients industry challenges, and understand their BUSINESS (and not only security) challenges. We are therefore aligning our knowledge management systems to better share lessons learned, and client insights across our division owners, project managers, and project engineers.