One of the first questions we get from prospects is: Will our time clock badge work with your terminal?
We get it. Nobody wants to roll out an employee badge replacement program. So this is a great question.
The semi-short answer from ATS engineers is: Maybe. Probably. Our terminals work with a lot of different badges, but we still need to test them out to make sure.
How ATS evaluates whether your employee time clock badge works with your choice of ATS terminals
Most of the ATS terminals work with multiple badge types and standards, but they don't all work with the same array of badge options. In order to test whether your company's time clock badge will work with our terminal, we need to know which ATS terminal you want to deploy.
The type of evaluation we do then depends on your badge type. Badges are typically either proximity, magstripe, or barcode. Each type works differently and there are differences in how each type may work in any specific instance.
For example, the magnetic strip on magstripe badges (picture old school credit cards before they all had chips) can hold three tracks of data. The tracks are universally numbered Track 1, Track 2, and Track 3. Simple. However, it's rare that a company uses all three tracks to hold data. In fact, not all magstripe badges even have a Track 3. Thus, the data track(s) used by any given company is a major factor whether its badges will work with a specific terminal reader.
In an example pertaining to barcode badges, the physical characteristics of the barcode greatly impacts whether its readable. Details from the barcode's height to its placement on the badge affect whether a terminal barcode reader can read it. ATS has specified the barcode measurements that provide optimal reader performance. When our engineers review your barcode badge, they'll let you know whether they're in or out of specifications. A barcode badge that's out of specification may work some of the time but would be considered unreliable.
What happens if my badge evaluation goes badly
If our engineers determine that your badge, as currently configured, isn't compatible with a terminal reader option for your time clock, we have options. It doesn't usually mean that we have to part ways. It may just take some reconfigurations.
The most common reason for a badge initially not working with the terminal reader is that the full scope of data can't be read or presents a data cleanup challenge before the time clock can send it to your time and attendance system. What do we mean by this?
Let's say that your badge holds a six-digit employee code but your time and attendance system expects eight digits. In most cases, this issue can be resolved. Depending on what your time & attendance solution requires, we can configure the badge reader to “pad” each employee code with “00”. This leaves the employee codes in tact while making a universal modification for swiping purposes.
Considering badge compatibility from the start
Some companies like the opportunity to upgrade their badge systems when they move to new time clocks. Others decidedly do not. Either way, it's worthwhile to include badge compatibility options as a factor on your time clock selection list.
Whatever terminal you choose, you'll still have to provide a few badges for physical testing. It's impossible to know whether your badge configuration will work without physically testing your actual badges. But by including badge compatibility during the terminal selection process, you're going a long way to avoid badge readability issues.
If you have questions about your time clock badge, give us a shout and one of the ATS experts can talk to you in more detail about which time clocks are most likely to work with your badges.
"While ATS is passionate about time and attendance and excited to support organizations navigate workforce dynamics around timekeeping, we recommend you reach out to your country, regional and/or local HR chapter for more information on common workplace advice and procedures."