Electronic bar codes replace time-punch clocks

January 10, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Staff Writer

Replacement parts that have become unobtainable and payroll clerks who had to track salary information for 800 employees largely by hand have persuaded the Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard to bring its payroll system into the '90s.

Instead of the cumbersome electric time clocks installed in the 1950s, the yard now uses an automated bar code system that feeds all payroll information into a central computer. It uses parts that can be replaced, cuts down on the number of payroll clerks and leaves the yard's chief financial manager not at all nostalgic for the old machines.

"IBM stopped making parts for them years ago," said Mike Ogrysko. "The [new] system has really given us a major boost as far as information. We've got information now we could have only dreamed about years before."

Employees slide their bar-coded badges through a slot on the time clocks.

The clocks record their arrival and departure times and update their attendance records each work day.

This is the first time the system has been used in the Coast Guard, yard officials said.

Under the old method of data collection, electric time clocks would print workers' start and stop times on cards. Foremen filled them out to reflect such things as leave and overtime.

The cards were collected daily and given to payroll clerks who tracked the pay, leave status and overtime of 800 employees. The payroll clerks would key-punch labor information onto labor cards, then pass them on to a mainframe cost accounting system.

Correcting the cards when the system rejected them because of errors was tedious and time-consuming, Mr. Ogrysko said.

The new system has many benefits: One person can handle the job now. Errors have become almost a thing of the past, since the new system has an accuracy rate of 99.9 percent, Mr. Ogrysko said.

And it's no longer up to the foreman to catch mistakes; the system does that now.

The system also produces manpower and labor cost-analysis reports for management. Data is sent directly to the cost accounting system daily.

Software for the new system, which the Coast Guard began installing in November, cost $168,000, Mr. Ogrysko said.

Fourteen clocks have been installed in 10 production buildings. Underground fiber-optic cable connects the system.

The yard's blue-collar workers were the first ones brought under the system.

Now only a few white-collar workers and the supply center employees use the old system, said Mr. Ogrysko, who visited other shipyards and private companies before deciding to forge ahead with his idea to automate.

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