On the road with IDs.
Since FMC began mining trona in 1948, the company's operations have improved and expanded to meet the world's growing need for this basic mineral. (Trona is used in making glass, paper, and detergents.)
As FMC's work force has increased so has the importance of the company's subsidized bus program, an important benefit to many employees. However, until the installation of an electronic ID system, the ID-2000 from Polaroid, the bus pass system was inconvenient. In addition, producing and distributing the passbooks, plus the necessary record keeping was costly.
Every month the time-consuming process of printing and distributing ticket books and having employees fill out payroll deduction forms for their share of the cost had to be dealt with. Since the tickets were distributed at mine entrances, the process caused frequent bottlenecks, annoying delays, and lost production time.
If employees missed the normal ticket distribution, they had to travel from the mines or refinery to the main office. Delays of 30 minutes to an hour were typical. The system had to be improved; the time for a responsive, computer-based system had arrived.
The company formed a management team that represented industrial engineering, finance, and office services to study the problem and develop a plan of action that addressed present and future needs.
The team decided the system it chose should produce ID cards with a picture and related information. The team members investigated and evaluated various approaches, including conventional or manual photo ID systems and several computer-based systems.
Performance, versatility, expandability, image quality, and cost of different systems were evaluated and compared. Conventional hard-copy systems were ruled out. They were slow, labor intensive, and too costly for the long term. The leading computerized systems relied on thermal technology to produce images.
THE ID-2000 WAS ONE of the systems that provided electronic digital imaging and high-capacity optical disk storage. The system produced color or black-and-white portraits on instant photographic print film.
This electronic digital imaging system the management team chose is easy to use, can be expanded to handle access control and automated verification, and can be linked to other FMC computer data bases.
Using a color video camera, FMC's electronic ID system can instantly capture, store, and retrieve color or black-and-white portraits, employee signatures, and alphanumeric data. It can also issue and reissue ID cards. The system combines video imaging with the storage capacity and high-speed retrieval capabilities of optical disk technology.
Because information is stored in digital form, replacement bus passes or contractor ID cards can be reissued without recalling the people involved. Changing image background colors electronically allows personnel to reissue color-coded passes on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. A full rebadging program, including new employee portraits, is being considered to be used at three- to four-year intervals. The digital system uses simple screen menus and prompts and guides the operator through the various tasks. The following imaging procedure is completed in less than a minute:
1. The employee signs a signature card.
2. The card is inserted into a signature capture device on the operator console.
3. Personal data is entered using a keyboard.
4. The portrait image is captured with a color video camera.
5. The completed layout is checked on the portrait monitor using a preview option.
Pressing the print key combines the portrait, signature, personal data, and appropriate card format into a composite electronic image.
The composite image is developed in less than a minute. After the card is trimmed by a die cutter, it is permanently sealed with a tamper-resistant laminate.
The tabletop ID system includes an 80286-based AT-class PC and 40 megabyte (MB) hard disk. It also has 2MB of random access memory, a 1.2MB floppy disk drive, and proprietary video capture and image-processing boards.
The operator console, or input unit, includes a color video camera, portrait lighting, portrait and test monitors, a keyboard, and a signature capture device. The output unit consists of a color film printer, film cutter, laminator, and film development timers.
Bus pass information is stored temporarily on an internal 40MB hard disk that can hold about 600 records containing color portraits, signatures, and relevant employee data. Periodically, data is transferred from the hard disk to an optical disk, which can store thousands of color portraits and related information.
After the system was installed and the operators were trained, its capabilities were put to a critical test. FMC's Office Services Group produced ID cards for more than 800 employees. The staff functioned flawlessly, and the task was handled efficiently and quickly. The estimated processing time savings of nearly 45 minutes per card over manual methods--a total of 400 to 500 hours--exceeded expectations.
By using an electronic digital imaging system, FMC has reduced the average time to create picture Ids to approximately two minutes per card. For group processing, two operators, one at the system console and the other cutting and laminating the cards, can reduce time requirements significantly.
FMC's new system is also an important cost-control tool. The monthly printing and physical distribution of bus passes, for example, has been eliminated. New cards or reissues are distributed by supervisors at the work site, rather than in long lines at the mine entrances.
The payroll deduction method for the employees' portion of the bus cost has also been automated, along with record-keeping functions.
Payroll deduction information is accessed automatically from the ID system's data base. All program information is stored in the system and is available for instant retrieval.
Contractors and other people who frequently visit FMC's facilities are now issued color-coded ID cards to distinguish them from employees and to specify areas they can access. When a contractor or visitor leaves, the ID card is returned to the security office.
FMC's subsidized transportation system is now free of the hassles and unnecessary expenses related to bus passes that were encountered previously every month. The cost of the new streamlined electronic imaging system was recovered in less than two years.
Donald A. Eastman is superintendent of industrial engineering at FMC Wyoming Corporation in Green River, WY.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||Transportation: Screening; FMC Wyoming Corp.'s electronic ID system|
|Author:||Eastman, Donald A.|
|Date:||Jun 1, 1992|
|Previous Article:||One by land, two by air.|
|Next Article:||L.A. violence invades newsroom.|