Solution makes time tracking easy

The JobClock System (www.jobclock.com, 888-788-8463) i s a method of attendance and time tracking for any number of jobsites and workers. The system is available both as a stationary JobClock suitable for job sites where a crew will be working for more than a few days and as a Palm-based PocketClock designed to support timekeeping for mobile crews who move from jobsite to jobsite. JobClock is a battery

The JobClock System (www.jobclock.com, 888-788-8463) i s a method of attendance and time tracking for any number of jobsites and workers. The system is available both as a stationary JobClock suitable for job sites where a crew will be working for more than a few days and as a Palm-based PocketClock designed to support timekeeping for mobile crews who move from jobsite to jobsite.

JobClock is a battery powered, weather-proof, tamperproof clock that is located on a jobsite for the duration of the project and stores up to 10,000 time records. It runs off a 3V lithium battery that can last up to six months . The records ar e on flash memory so even if the battery dies, the records are secure. (For companies with multiple jobsites, every clock is assigned an identifying code.)

Tracked workers carry a set of Keytabs designed to fit on a key ring — green for “go” to indicate the start of work and red to indicate stopping work. Each tab has an embedded chip that identifies that particular worker and can be used at any JobClock in the system.

An optional yellow key tab can track travel time between job sites. All inputted information is encoded and retrievable only by authorized personnel.

Each clock has an infrared transmitter (akin to a TV remote). When it is time for a company to collect records to make payroll, the designated employee goes to the clock at each site with a Palm Pilot or a handheld device that runs Windows Mobile and presses a button on the Palm.

In five seconds, all the new records stored in the clock are downloaded via proprietary software into the handheld device and simultaneously flags them as having been collected. Once the records are downloaded, the foreman can review and edit the records on the spot.

For security, the clock stores the most recent 10,000 records, which are continuously available if the company wants to override automatic download and redownload any or all previously downloaded records.

The developer also offers Jobclock.net, a service that allows companies to transfer records from the Palm Pilot via the Internet or to transfer records wirelessly if using a handheld Treo phone.

Once the Palm Pi lot or handheld device is back in the office, the information is downloaded via the same software installed on the office computer. This software, TimeSummit, compiles all the records into various types of reports.

Software filtering options enable administrators to customize reports to show information for all employees and jobsites or summarize information only for those employees and jobsites they want to review.

The second hardware option, PocketClock, is a Palmbased time and attendance tracker that acts as a portable timeclock. It works either with JobClock or by itself. Basically it’s a ruggedized Palm Pilot running Pocket- Clock software that makes it suitable for tracking attendance and time for field personnel traveling from job to job or service call to service call. Typically there is one PocketClock per truck.

For tracking attendance and time on each jobsite, workers can clock themselves in and out by touching color coded buttons on the Pocket- Clock keyboard — green for starting work and red when stopping work. The worker also can select the jobsite to which the time should be logged from a scrollable inputted list of jobsites. Alternatively, the foreman can clock all workers in or out at the site.

PocketClock can store any number of cost codes and workers can select the applicable cost code for the task performed from a scrollable list, which can help with job costing and accurate bidding on future projects. Workers can easily switch cost codes during the day, as the focus of work changes.

Another option enables each worker to touch “travel” when they leave for the next site, then “in” again at the next site, and so forth, until touching “out” at the end of the workday. (For workers for whom Spanish is the preferred language, the screens will convert to Spanish when that worker types in his employee ID number.)

At the end of the week, management can see both what sites the worker was at and how much time was spent traveling between them. New jobsites can be added during the workday right on the PocketClock.

Supervisors can also assign cost codes directly in the PocketClock and enter field notes directly, as well.

Once the PocketClock is back in the office, the data is downloaded into the office computer via TimeSummit in the same manner as data from the JobClock. Alternatively the data can be transmitted via Jobclock.net.

Both the JobClock and the PocketClock use security codes that support password protection. Attendance records from the JobClock and PocketClock can be exported via optional AccountLinx into any of the major accounting software and payroll services contractors are likely to use.

Bill and Patti Feldman are freelance writers for magazines, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at [email protected].