Case Studies

Olam Group Time & Attendance/Biometrics

olam international

Olam Group chose Synel solution for its Workforce Management in Africa

‘This project is a testimony of how good planning and implementing IT systems ahead of the curve can help business growth. The plantation business went from zero employees to 8000 employees in less than 2 years.  The system helped’ said Country Head Gabon, Olam Group 


About Olam Group

Olam International is a leading agriculture-business operating from seed to shelf in 70 countries, supplying food and industrial raw materials to over 16,200 customers worldwide. With its 62,500 employees Olam Group has built a leadership position in many businesses. The group currently covers 5 segments: Edible Nuts; Spices and Vegetable Ingredients; Confectionery and Beverage Ingredients; Food Staples and Packaged Foods; Industrial Raw Materials and Commodity Financial Services.

Given the size of the group, the importance of a strong and reliable Time and Attendance System is paramount. In 2013 after a careful supplier’sselection process, Olam group chose Synel TimeLOGWeb solution, as a pilot for Olam Gabon subsidiary. Olam Group made the decision based on the criteriaof the flexibility and scalability of our solution.They made the decision to also deploy both the Time and Attendance and Access Control modules of TimeLOGWeb at their Congosubsidiary. Below, we will show the challenges of this project and the benefits fromour customer.

Why did Olam Group Choose Synel UK?

Synel’s TimeLOGWeb System proved to be the ideal system for Olam Group, as it provided modular solutions like Time and Attendance and Access Control all-in-one solution. It was also able to cater for specific requirements such as creating customised reports and developing interface with 3rd party applications used by the group, such as Sage and Delta.

Moreover, Olam Group chose Synel as we have over 25 years of experience in the installation and provision. This has played an important role at the selection of Synel solution, as its presence in Africa via its partner SoS Electronic’s.

The Challenge

Synel was able to provide a solution that catered for 7500+ employees spread across 4 different locations under a biometric time and attendance system.

The challenge was to take into account the installation context. The technical requirements were:

  • Scalable: to meet the high number of staff of the company.
  • Flexible: to provide specific and customised reports to the different type of users.
  • Robust: for indoor/outdoor use with high quality weather resistant material that stands up to harsh weather conditions – 15 terminals initially.
  • Secure: using a hand scan biometric system to authenticate employees.
Employee Clocking on handPunch reader
Biometric Access Control at site

Our Approach and Result

Supervisor Daily Report Sample

Extraordinary events require extraordinary solutions. The direct staff strength in Gabon operations exploded from a mere 1000 employees in Dec 2011, to nearly 2500 by June 2012, and it has further leapfrogged to over 8000 employees to now. Most of the employees were in their plantations, located far away from nearest towns, lacking in even basic amenities like electricity and office infrastructure. Managing this number and the continuing growth was a major challenge, among them:

  • Knowing exact headcount count of employees
  • Maintaining records of working hours including overtime
  • Manpower Cost allocation to various activities
  • Ghost employees, Excess or double payment, Overtime payment and issue related to calculations
  • Inevitable Employee Relations problems resulting out of salary issues, including stoppage of work

After thorough techno functional study of situation, biometric devices were selected that can sustain difficult working and environmental conditions in a plantation.  We implemented Network based full palm reading Biometric T&A system.

Project was initiated at Awala plantation, covering 900+ plantation workers.

  • 6 networked biometric devices connected to local server were installed at Awala.
  • Morning attendance time of around 800 workers reduced to 30-35 min, that too from Manual to system driven
  • Each Supervisor gets his Gang CDQ report printed from Biometric report system (done by 8:30 am), having name and attendance of people working in his team that day.
  • Daily work attendance gets printed on Pay slip of each employee to avoid confusion in payroll
  • As on today total 45 biometric devices with all-weather case installed at all across Gabon Plantation and office locations

Synel successfully delivered the solution through its local partner SoS Electronics. The installation happened in 3 phases:

  • Phase 1: Installation and implementation of the software. As the internet connection between sites were not reliable, Olam Gabon chose to go for a local installation for each of its 5 sites. The solution also provided a link with their payroll application Sage, and a special export to Excel.
  • Phase 2: Installation and implementation of the hardware. The Synel team had to overcome two important challenges – security and robustness. As most of the employees are plantation workers, they often damage their hands which make it difficult to use a fingerprint reader. Synel was able to integrate the robust HandPunch which was a more practical solution. The Ingersoll Rand biometric reader met both the customer requirements of secure authentication and robustness in a difficult environment. SoS Electronic, our local partner, successfully installed all Synel equipment, ensuring the technical requirements met the customer’s
  • Phase 3: User training and commissioning of the solution. Providing the training to the different users (administrator and support IT staff) of the solution in the software and hardware.
Olam Gabon installation

Tangible and intangible Benefits from the project

  • Reliable MIS on headcount for 8000+ workforce reporting
  • Accurate attendance and Overtime calculation and printing on pays lip
  • Any issue related to Ghost workers are addressed 100%
  • Seamless data integration with SAGE payroll
  • Productivity enhancement and timesaving in preparation of Daily MIS by Supervisor and month end payroll attendance data

a. Uniform system and practices across all location

b. System and process matured over last 18 month of usage and can take care of our expected manpower growth of 15000+ by 2017-18

The pilot “T&A” project at Olam Gabon has paved way for other Olam sites in Africa.  Since the installation, numerous firms of the group and other businesses have visited the sites and chosen to duplicate this installation. It has made a significant and distinctive contribution in the way Time and Attendance is processed in challenging and remote workspaces, such as plantations and factories.  Olam Congo has adopted the same solution and is currently deploying the Access Control functionality.

As the Global Head of Plantation said: “It is a proactive IT tool implemented to manage large labour force for improved management efficiency and cost control. The success of implementing the project within a short time frame indicates the spirit of teamwork existence between IT, Finance and Plantation Management Team. Well done Vinod and Team.”

Olam Gabon and Olam Congo are now enjoying the following benefits of TimeLOGWeb in terms of Electronic “T&A” Registration; seamless interfacing with their payroll application; and soon an integrated access control module. The benefits of using TimeLOGWeb is translated into increasing efficiency, reducing administration process, producing accurate reports, encouraging employees to take responsibility in their time management.

Total Project timeline: 36 Months and the journey continues



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