HandReaders Control Access to Venetian Macau Construction Site

July 26, 2005
Hand-geometery readers provide biometric solution for access control, timecard

CAMPBELL, CALIF. -- Recognition Systems, the biometric component of Ingersoll-Rand's (IR) Security Technologies, announced today that Solution Expert Technology of Hong Kong has implemented a biometric-based system using 90 HandReaders that controls access for approximately 12,000 workers to all entrances at a construction site that will ultimately be the Venetian Macau, the anchor of a Las Vegas-style strip for Asia. The Venetian Macau will include 1,500 luxury suites, with an additional 1,500 suites planned in Phase II of the development, a million square foot convention center, 15 fine dining restaurants, a 15,000-seat arena, a 2,000-seat showroom, and a 600,000-square-foot shopping mall with several additional restaurants.

"Protecting projects from theft and keeping people from getting hurt on construction sites are always a top concern," explains Tony Yuen, COO of Solution Expert Technology. "In Macau, strict labor and safety laws that prevent illegal workers, and workers without safety training, from entering construction sites make strict access control even more urgent. General contractors who violate these laws receive heavy penalties when they are caught."

According to Yuen, contractors are increasingly turning to biometric hand geometry technology to help them quickly give access to authorized workers and accurately deny entry to people who should not be on site. With HandReaders, a worker's permit and safety training records, along with expiration dates, can be entered into a database that not only verifies an employee's identity, but instantly checks to see if that employee is authorized to be there.

HandReaders automatically take a three-dimensional reading of the size and shape of a hand and verify the user's identity in less than one second. At the Venetian Macau, the site is so big that there were concerns that cables would be consistently cut so data is sent wirelessly, using an 802.11 wireless router.

Solution Expert Technology has written time and attendance software for both Chinese and English users that interfaces seamlessly with the HandReaders. Similar systems are used at more than 100 construction sites operated by several of the largest construction companies in Hong Kong.

At the Venetian Macau site, turnstiles are posted at each entrance. A total of 44 turnstiles have been installed at the site so far. The turnstiles create a dual system with HandReader terminals on both sides, allowing the same turnstile to be used by workers either entering or exiting a site. A contactless smart card, typically kept in a hip pocket, calls up a stored biometric template, which is then immediately validated by placement of the employee's hand on the HandReader terminal. Timekeeping information for the employee is instantly transmitted to a central office wirelessly. Everyone entering the site, from employees to outside subcontractors and vendors, is required to use the HandReaders for access.

The HandReaders themselves are protected by weatherproof stainless steel housings equipped with red/green indicator lights. One set of battery-powered turnstiles can serve up to 300 workers who enter and exit the site up to six times a day. That means that one set of turnstiles can handle 1,800 transactions per day while still quickly and efficiently providing both timekeeping and access control functions. Over 72,000 transactions are performed each day at the Macau site.

"The portability of our solutions is a key selling point," adds Yuen. "Site entrances are temporary and often moved every three to four weeks. Our turnstile solutions are made to be easily towed from entrance to entrance and site-to-site.

"With the HandReader turnstiles, the construction company can now directly pay all workers, whether they have been hired by subcontractors or not, eliminating potential contract disputes and giving construction companies greater control over their budgets," Yuen continues. "They also have daily access to accurate reports about overall payroll costs. The HandReader terminals also ensure that every person entering a construction site holds a valid safety card and has completed an eight-hour mandatory safety training class.

"What's more, the HandReaders prevent 'buddy punching,' a practice by which one employee punches the timeclock for a coworker who is late or absent and put a lid on the not-uncommon practice of simultaneously punching in at two different construction sites. The cost savings to companies from those two issues alone are enormous, accounting for between 3 to 5 percent of overall payroll costs," Yuen emphasizes.