It’s a challenging time to be a manufacturer — or exciting, depending on your point of view. You’re dealing with shifting customer demands, sourcing and supply chain challenges, government regulations and more. Worrying about whether your clocks display the same, accurate time — and how that impacts your maintenance crews, the start and stop time of shifts, timestamps and reporting or compliance issues — doesn’t have to be an extra item on your plate.
Time means everything in manufacturing, and clocks that are synchronized to display the same, accurate time aren’t just a convenience. They are required for efficient, compliant operations.
How is time synchronized?
A synchronized timekeeping system ensures that all of the clocks in a building or facility — wired, wireless, digital or analog — display the same precise time. There are two main methods of achieving this:
- A wired timekeeping system has a master clock that is wired to each clock in a building and controls the displayed time to uphold synchronization.
- A wireless system’s clocks retrieve a time signal from GPS satellites, cell phone towers or the internet. A signal is sent to each wireless clock using a radio frequency.
- In some cases, vendors have options that can synchronize both wired and wireless clocks within the same facility.
Whether wired or wireless clocks (or a combination of both), a synchronized timekeeping system will automatically update for daylight saving time and may come with a multi-year battery life, saving your staff a significant amount of time adjusting and maintaining clocks.
Why it’s important for manufacturers
Time is money in manufacturing, so a synchronized timekeeping system impacts more than just the time displayed on your clocks: It impacts your maintenance costs, employee compensation and regulatory compliance. Let’s look at each of these in detail:
Lower maintenance costs
Gone are the days when your maintenance teams tediously adjust clocks that won’t stay on the right time or that need to be updated for daylight saving time twice a year. With synchronized time, you can set a clock once and forget about it for years: All of the clocks will display the same time and your maintenance crews can focus their efforts in other areas.
What’s more, a timekeeping system’s controller can manage other building systems’ on/off functions: Just as computers on a network can “talk” to each other, so too can a timekeeping system controller communicate scheduled times for a facility’s HVAC, security and lighting. Maintenance personnel can schedule these on and off times manually from a desktop computer or automatically with a pre-set schedule for events, such as holidays or daylight saving time. This facility-wide synchronization saves a tremendous amount of maintenance time and cost — not to mention energy — by eliminating the need to adjust the on/off times of various building systems.
Accurate labor costs and compensation
Clocks that don’t display the same time can be more than inconvenient; they may be costing you payroll. For instance, a food manufacturing facility in the southern U.S. paid workers by the minute in accordance with government regulations, but the clocks in its production facility displayed different times. To ensure accurate and fair compensation, it installed synchronized, digital clocks that signaled the beginning and end of shifts and break times, as well as optimized the flow of workers throughout the facility for correct compensation and tracking.
Even if your clocks are only a few minutes off, those few minutes may turn into hundreds or thousands of minutes when it impacts every employee. The wrong time hurts your productivity, costs you payroll and cuts into your bottom line.
Precise regulatory compliance
Synchronized time decreases your liability by documenting the precise time of an occurrence. It ensures events take place on time throughout your facility and reduces defects due to time inaccuracy. For instance, a technology manufacturer may need synchronized time to conduct experiments, for employee meetings, and for accurate time stamps on its products.
Along the same lines, a food manufacturer may synchronize its wall clocks with the internal clock on the cooking equipment so that time stamps on batches are precise and to eliminate any doubt that operations are in compliance with food safety regulations. If a cooker goes down, the accurate time is documented immediately so that the batch can be segregated from the rest of the production line for testing.
Ready for daylight saving time?
Clocks will have to be adjusted soon when daylight saving time ends in November. Will your maintenance team be spending hours of manual labor to do this? Will you operate with incorrect clocks for a few days? Or will all of the clocks in your buildings – digital or analog, wired or wireless – update automatically so that your operations can continue uninterrupted?
A best-in-class synchronized timekeeping system goes beyond accurate time displays to make sure your facility stays in compliance, on budget and on track.
Dieter Pape is president of American Time, a manufacturer of integrated time solutions for organizations around the world. More information can be found at www.atsclock.com.