Like many time and attendance vendors, we often recommend computer-based time and attendance solutions. Because of their flexibility and advanced capabilities, software or web-based systems are a good choice for many companies.

However, there are circumstances in which a traditional punch clock is a better alternative. If electrical power is unavailable or unreliable at the job site, a computer-based application may not work. Extremes in temperature or very dusty or greasy environments can wreak havoc with delicate computer electronics. You may want a device that can double as a document time stamp as well as recording employee hours worked. Some business owners (and some employees!) may simply prefer the traditional punch clock and time card.

How do you know if a punch clock is right for your organization? Once you’ve decided you need one, how do you choose the best for you?

Good questions! Fortunately, we have answers. So relax, pour yourself a cup of your favorite soothing beverage and read on.

Is A Time Clock Right For You?

There are many good reasons to consider a computer-based automated time and attendance system. There are also many good reasons to consider a mechanical or electronic time clock:

  • They’re easy to install. Whether you choose to hang them on the wall or place them on a table or counter, all you need is a nearby electrical outlet to plug them in. Even the electrical outlet is optional if you choose a battery-powered model.
  • They’re quick to configure. With the basic mechanical time clocks, just set the time and plug them in, and you can start recording time. You can configure an electronic clock in a matter of minutes.
  • They’re simple to use, right out of the box. Most employees and supervisors will not require extensive training to use a punch clock system.
  • They’re versatile. Some time recorders can be used to print time on virtually any document, not just time cards. These clocks can do double-duty for you — recording employee hours, time-stamping documents in your mailroom, stamping visitor passes or the visitor log with arrival and departure times, and so forth.
  • There are models suitable for almost every environment. Dust, grease, heat, cold… these are the enemies of sensitive electronics. Heavy-duty mechanical clocks can withstand harsh conditions that would quickly ruin a computer or electronic terminal. For remote job sites where electric power may be unreliable or non-existent, a battery-powered employee time clock can fill the bill.

If your employees aren’t particularly tech-savvy, if your work environment is excessively dusty or greasy or subject to extremes of temperature, if you need a multi-function time stamp, if you’re looking for something you can start using right away with no training required, if you simply prefer the familiar time card and punch clock for recording employee time… you might be a good candidate for a traditional time clock.

I Need One! …But Which One?

So let’s say you’ve determined a time clock is right for you. There are many alternatives, each with its own distinct advantages. How do you decide? Let’s take a closer look at your choices.

Acroprint time recorders can be divided into two main groups: side-print and top-load.

Side-print models

Side-print time recorders include:

Side-printing time clocks are extremely versatile. For instance, the ES700 and ES900 electronic clocks can be set to handle a variety of papers, from lightweight onionskin to heavy card stock. With their many configuration options and the ability to print on either the left or right margin, these two make excellent document time stamps as well as employee time clocks. They’re an appropriate choice for offices, clinics and other professional environments.

The iconic green Model 125 and Model 150 are considered “heavy-duty clocks” and are designed to withstand harsh conditions and heavy use. Each can be ordered with your choice of printwheel configuration making them suitable for a variety of business applications. These adaptable workhorses are right at home almost anywhere: in warehouses, job sites, automotive shops, as well as offices and stores.

If you decide to use any side-printing clock to record employee time, you can choose from a variety of time cards, including weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly and monthly — virtually any standard time cards. If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of paper time cards, you can opt for our Green Guard time cards, which feature 30% post-consumer recycled content.

Top-loading clocks

Our top-load clocks include:

Top-loading electronic clocks offer the convenience of automatic card positioning. Employees don’t need to worry about precisely lining up their time cards — they simply drop their card in the top slot, and the clock takes care of aligning the card before printing the time and ejecting the card. This consistent and accurate alignment of time punches on the card can make the cards easier to read and your payroll processing quicker and more accurate.

Beyond that, the ES1000 is a totalizing clock. For up to 100 employees per clock, the ES1000 will calculate each employee’s total hours worked — and their overtime — at the end of your pay period. This handy feature can save you hours of payroll preparation time!

Both the ES1000 and the ATR120 include internal battery back up to make sure they maintain the correct time even when the power is out. They both offer you the option of a NiCd battery pack, allowing them to continue to record punches during a power outage. Both can also signal the start and end of shifts or breaks. The ATR120 features a built-in buzzer, and the ES1000 can be set up for external signal control.

One thing to be aware of with both top-loading models: you can’t use just any old time cards. Each clock requires its own special time cards, which are necessary for their auto-positioning feature to function properly.

The Bottom Line

Punch clocks have come a long way over the years. From heavy-duty mechanical clocks to sophisticated totalizing payroll recorders, there’s a time clock out there to suit just about any need.

For many organizations, a traditional time recorder or two may be just the ticket for easy, economical and accurate employee time tracking.

If you’re considering a time clock purchase or would simply like more information about the alternatives available these days, we invite you to visit our online store and check out our selection of versatile, durable and reliable time recorders or find a local dealer who can help you make the right choice for your business.


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