Bundy Clocks and Time Clocks

Bundy Clocks versus Time Clocks

While there certainly is a difference between these two products the names are now used to describe the same products.

The Bundy clock was invented by William Bundy in the late 1880’s and was a mechanical time recorder which, in basic design has survived until very recent times although now most models are designed and manufactured in China and are a fusion of electronics and mechanical systems. These clocks use a printer mechanism and card to stamp employee attendance times and are capable of some time related calculations.

Time clocks by comparison is the term generally applied to time recording devices which are entirely electronic and either require additional software to collect the employee attendance times and interpret them according to the pay rules for your employees. Some of the more advanced time clocks use embedded software which can be accessed using your web browser.

Electronic time clocks are far more useful than Bundy clocks as they have no moving parts to wear out, no ongoing consumables such as cards and ink ribbons and they are generally capable of more complex award interpretation. They are however, often more expensive in the initial purchase price. This additional up front purchase price is usually quickly recovered through the efficiency improvements

For most businesses the cost difference between the two technologies is not significant and certainly not enough to warrant opting for a less flexible technology. It is generally estimate that introducing a time clock system into your business will save your company the cost of the investment in just a few months through improved processes, reduction in time theft and the elimination of calculation errors.

Still, it is not unusual to find many small businesses choosing inferior time clock technologies only to find that the product is unreliable or difficult to use or unsupported. Your employee time clock should be viewed as an investment which will give you a significant return and its cost therefor can be much less of a factor.

In this example a typical company with 20 employees calculates that time theft, extended payroll preparation times and payroll calculation errors are costing the company $250 per week. They have two time clock options to choose from. Option 1 costs $650 ( from the internet) and Option 2 costs $1,950 but is from a reputable supplier.

After 12 months the net saving including investment in the time clock will be $250 X 52 – Time Clock Price. So in the case of the $650 time clock the net saving will be $12,350 and the net savings from the $1,950 time clock will be $11,050.

What this quick calculation fails to consider of course is the cheap time clock will be much more likely to present you with problems in the installation and setup and reliability because quite simply you cannot expect quality, good pricing and responsive support in one products…it is in fact a commercial impossibility

Seriously, why would you bother choosing a inferior clock and risk not achieving any savings when the returns are so good and easily justify investment in a better product… it’s never worth the hassle.

Wireless Time Clocks

I am often asked by end users whether our time clocks a feature wireless network adapter.

While this is not a current product feature and our brochures are clear in this regard, I can appreciate that in today’s IT environment devices seem to be increasingly wireless equipped.

While wireless is more common,  hard wired connections are generally preferred for fixed hardware devices and wireless is preferred for mobile devices. Your time clock is a mission critical hardware device and a fixed connection is a more suitable alternative as overcomes potential bandwidth issues, interference issues and general infrastructural maintenance and security issues. In short, a hard wired connection  is a more reliable and should be used in preference to a wireless connection for fixed hardware applications.

While the CS Time Clock is not a wireless equipped device it can be connected into your network either by using a Wireless Access Point  or by using a Ethernet over Power adapter. Selecting one of these options has its own considerations based on your particular application and your  existing IT infrastructure and you should consult your IT provider for advice in this matter.

Having said all this may decide that getting a contractor in to run a network cable to the clock is the easiest way to address the issue and certainly that would be my recommendation for all the reasons stated above.




Integrated Product Backup

Finally, a time and attendance hardware supplier has overcome one of the most pressing issue facing business today. Backing up vital employee attendance data. They do this automatically from within the hardware itself.

Time & Attendance Solutions based in Sydney  have incorporated a firmware backup routine into their employee bundy clocks which automatically backs up the entire employee database including all the historical records onto a secure cloud server.

Independent surveys show an alarming lack of attention to backups even by trained IT professionals. The surveys reveal two very concerning trends. The average backup period for critical company data is two weeks and the average requirement to draw on backups for data recovery is every 2 months.

This suggests that on average you will be losing 1 week of data input every two months. This is clearly a very costly and disruptive process and while it is avoidable by making more regular and reliable backups this process is flawed when it is manual. Conservative estimates suggest the cost of each one of these data loss events I can measured in the thousands of dollars yet we seem not to learn from these mistakes.

The plain and simple fact is that when it comes to manual backups we are all notoriously unreliable and automation is the only workable solution. Time & Attendance Solutions cloud based backups are based on direct API access by the the time clocks to the cloud based backup server. In the background, every day an automatic backup of the data in the clock is uploaded securing employee data against loss and providing the ultimate disaster recovery.

Again, the solution to an age old problem lies not with a solution that does not work (a strict regime of manual backups) but a new solution that does work by taking away the unreliable element…you and me.



Are bundy clocks really that expensive?

The answer to that of course depends entirely on your perspective but I guess that if we  were to use a reference point it would be the cost compared to the alternatives and perhaps the historical cost.

In the first instance the tie clock is by far the least expensive way of recording employee attendance times because it is accurate and takes far less time than manual methods of calculating employee attendance.

On the historical cost the modern electronic time clock still compares favourably even though the expected life span of an electronic time clock is far less than that an old mechanical bundy clock. The nature of mechanical buddy clocks is that they can be maintained by regular servicing which both adds to the cost and reliability. By comparison, an electronic bundy had no moving parts so failures can not generally be prevented.

In 1980 a mechanical bundy clock cost around $800 which was about 4 timed the weekly wages of a tradesman who’s attendance it was recording. The annual maintenance costs including ribbons, cars and servicing cost around 200 per year. The life expectancy of the mechanical Bundy Clock was 20 years making the total cost of ownership over the 20 year span about $2,800.

Today, some 35 years later a quality proximity electronic time clock cost about $1,600 or 1.5 times a tradesman weekly wage and the ongoing costs are about $300 per year if you have a support agreement. The clock can be expected to last about 10 years minimum. This makes the cost of ownership over 20 years ( including buying a replacement clock after 10 years) $6,200.

Using the tradesman wages as our guide we need to multiply the cost of ownership of the old bundy clock by 8 to bring it in line with the change in tradesman’s wages. This makes the cost of ownership ( adjusted to todays costs) $22,400.

Clearly, modern electronic time clocks are a cheaper than they have ever been and to add to that they are a whole lot better at calculating employee payroll hours.



Wage Easy Time Clock Integration

The development team at CS Time Clocks are excited to release new employee time clock featuring a fully compatible Wage Easy payroll export.

This new export routine allows wage easy payroll software users to add full functionality fingerprint, proximity or PIN based web enabled time clocks to their payroll preparation process. This significant improves accuracy and data entry speed.

The CS Time Clock is a small Linux computer which simply plugs into 240 Volt power and a network cable. It features a web interface so it can be accessed through your web browser and required no additional expensive software.

With the manual data entry process removed payroll staff are free to attend to more important matters with the peace of mind that the employee attendance records are stored electronically in a secure SQL database and backed up automatically at regular intervals.

This remarkable time clock is synchronised to a time zone enabled time server allowing it to keep perfect time even when daylight saving changes. The clock also features automatic firmware updates for maintenance free operation.

This is a great product for all Wage Easy users.





Time Clocks and Payroll

When it comes to time clocks and payroll it is accurate to say that the process is not well understood by most small business owners.

There is often an expectation that a time clock will be able to export into the off the shelf payroll software solutions such as MYOB, Quickbooks but this is certainly rarely the case.

There are two barriers to this process, the first being that these common payroll products require interpreted hours i.e normal hours, overtime hours and perhaps penalty hours. Given that most time clocks simply record in and out times and a few barely manage to export anything in any useful format these business owners are often surprised and disappointed.

Accurate payroll hours require quite significant interpretation as an employee will rarely clock in and out exactly on time. This means that the clockings may have to be automatically adjusted for early or late clockings and for multiple overtime categories. Additionally, the payroll hours may need to be balanced so that overtime is not calculated unless the nominal ordinary hours are reached. It all gets very difficult and way beyond the capability of most time clocks.

While the solution to this is generally available with the inclusion of award interpretation software this adds a significant cost which is hard to justify to the end user.

There are some time clocks which do have the capability to produce award interpreted hours and export a payroll file. The CS Time Clock can calculate and export a payroll file to many of the most common payroll products. Its worth taking a look at whether your requirements can be accommodated as this can save significant costs associated with separate time and attendance software.




Biometric Time & Attendance – The Productivity Myth.

While biometric Time & Attendance devices have advanced in leaps and bounds in recent years there are still some serious questions business owners should ask themselves about this choice of this technology in the workplace.

All too often I see biometrics as the technology chosen simply to address problems such as time theft or buddy punching  which is often a symptom of more significant workplace culture issues. Implementation of biometric time clocks can certainly prevent time theft although that too can be a questionable benefit while the broader workplace culture issues remain.

Feedback from our clients strongly indicate that the benefits of reduction in time theft are short lived.  Typically, those employees who were late for work  and either entered the normal start time on their time sheet or had workmates clock in for them were certainly caught out in the first few weeks.  Their pays were docked accordingly saving the company money.  However, within a few weeks tardiness improved and the payroll costs went back up to the normal levels as employees all now arrived on time.

Not to be disappointed by this, management typically cited the increased productivity achieved through reduction in late arrivals . They did the math based on the indications in the first week or two on how many hours they had lost due to late arrivals, multiplied that by the number of weeks in the year and came up with very satisfying productivity increases.

The problem is that it doesn’t work like this in practice. The assumption that an employee is more productive simply because they came in on time and had 15 minutes more in their day doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny.  Closer examination with one of my client companies clearly showed that there were no actual realized productivity increases on the factory floor.

By and large employees do not work to their full capacity so they have room to compensate and make up lost time. They can always work a little faster and a little smarter throughout the day to make up for a shortfall of 15 minutes or so.

Sure, there are production environments where it is vital that employees are on deck because of the co-dependency of other production processes but these are less common and a missing employee does not go unnoticed in this environment so the issue becomes one of staff management rather than attendance recording.

As a provider of biometric time clocks I am certainly happy to provide this solution but at the same time I am much happier if my clients make the  product decision for the right reasons and there are many good reasons to choose biometrics. The better reasons include-

  • Remote sites where employees cannot be monitored.
  • Food industry applications where employees can not carry articles such a proximity tag into the production area.
  • High security applications where the time clocks are also used for access control.

At the start of this article I mentioned the broader workplace culture issues. Here is an example.

A potential client recently inquired about our biometric time clocks and as we talked over the requirements and issues it became clear that there was a concern that time theft was rampant even to the extent of employees not turning up for the day and being covered by their workmates. Moreover, supervisors were the ring leaders even to the extent that they had a roster system in place for employee “no show” days.

In spite of the fact that I quite like the organic workplace model where the job gets done and the method is secondary I know this to be prone to all kinds of problems. However, it is a little difficult to suggest to the client that there are some serious management issues that need addressing so the extent of my advice was that I believed the employees would sabotage the system.

The client went ahead with a biometric time clock and the employees sabotaged the system … with a length of pipe from the look of it!

This may be an extreme case but it does illustrate that perhaps biometric time clocks are not the first port of call for addressing employees tardiness.

Electronic Time Clocks have significant advantages over time sheets or mechanical bundy clocks. These include-

  • Accuracy of information
  • Award interpretation features
  • Ease of Use
  • Accessibility
  • Security of data
  • Exportability of data
  • Reduction in payroll processing time
  • Error reduction
  • Portability

These advantage  justify the investment. The use of biometrics  and the reduction in time theft is rarely going to be the most significant benefit… but don’t let that stop you enjoying the other benefits.


Jim Courtwood

Time & Attendance Solutions

1300 553 354