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In 2015, Tactile Technologies received an order for interactive touch screen kiosks from Pretoria-based company EPI USE, a leader in Cloud-based, hybrid, and on-premises SAP–based solutions for large multinational corporations. These kiosks, together with the software created by EPI USE, were then deployed as a complete solution in the Debswana mines, which are the world’s leading producers of gem-quality diamonds (contributing 30% by value to global output). This month, EPI USE returned to Tactile Technologies with an additional order for interactive touch screen kiosks, which are being used most effectively as an employee self-service solution within the mines.
Applications for the Debswana Touch Screen Kiosks
The Debswana mines employ thousands of people, most of which are “undesked”, i.e. do not sit behind a desk in an office. Rather, these employees head deep down into the mine every day to extract the ore in which the precious diamonds are found. Managing the needs of so many employees was, of course, an incredibly taxing task and communications and interactions with management and HR would typically be very frustrating given the number of employees. Additionally, being a mine, many of these employees worked shifts and so those working outside of office hours (nights) wouldn’t have access to administrative support and human resources.
The solution to this problem was to deploy a series of interactive touch screen kiosks, which would provide employees with a portal through which they could perform a number of tasks:
By entering their login information to access the system, the touch screen kiosks allow Debswana mines employees to access a bounty of information and resources electronically and this has successfully relieved an incredible amount of pressure from the administrative and HR departments.
Touch Screen Kiosk Hardware Components
The decision to go with a touch screen kiosk format for self-service was made so that Debswana could move the kiosks around (to the shift manager’s office or the canteen, etc.) Being a dynamic mine environment, a fixed solution would have been extremely limiting. Additionally, a touch screen is far more intuitive to use than a traditional computer with mouse and this was important for mine employees who don’t necessarily have much experience operating computers.
The components provided by Tactile Technologies included:
The 19” Tactile 19K1 is a large touch screen monitor with a bezel seal standard (NEMA3 and IEC IP65), enabling it to withstand the punishing mine environment, as well as the rigors of frequent public use. It boasts a long product cycle, making it the most cost effective solution on the market. Additionally, the 19” Tactile 19K1 offers great visuals and high quality display, all packed into an attractive, compact, and slim profile.
While most operations can be performed through the touch screen, the integration of a rugged stainless steel keyboard makes it possible for users to enter more detailed information into the system, such as, for example, their CV’s. This enables employees to applying for internal job applications. Being constructed from stainless steel, the keyboards are made to withstand heavy use, while keeping out the dust and grit that’s so pervasive in mine environments.
The BP-363 by FEC is a high performance aluminum PC with an Intel® Celeron J1900 processor. This sophisticated technology packs 1 x 2.5″ SATA HDD storage and a standard 2 GB of memory (RAM), which can be increased to 8 GB. The enclosure, which is constructed from extra-strengthened steel, carries an IP65 rating (dust proof), making the BP-363 PC perfect for the mining environment. And, of course, being a fanless PC means that it won’t suck in dust, which would destroy the PC.
The addition of a Wi-Fi adapter enables the touch screen kiosks to connect to the system and facilitate all communications. It also negates the need for cables, which would be an unnecessary expense and a bit of a nuisance in a mine environment.
The BK-L216II is a high-end, embedded A4 thermal printer with auto-cutter and presenter. This printer, which is fed thermal paper by a large roll, has the task of printing out employee’s pay slips and whatever other documentation they need hard copies of. The use of thermal paper minimizes the maintenance of the kiosk because, being able to print up to 1,299 pages of A4 length per roll, it doesn’t require frequent paper changes. Additionally, there are no consumables like ink cartridges.
The BK-L216II thermal printer has specially been designed for unattended printing applications, which is exactly the case in this mine environment. Another interesting feature of this printer is that if, for example, an employee forgets to collect their printout, the printer will – after a specified time period – retract the paper and dispose of it. This protects employees’ personal information.
In addition to these components, Tactile Technologies made provisions in the construction of the kiosks for an A4 scanner and fingerprint reader. While the current Debswana mine kiosks are not using these features, the aim is to get them up and running in the near future. The A4 scanner would enable employees to scan and upload any relevant documentation, such as copies of their ID or sick notes from doctors, etc. And the fingerprint reader would allow employees to quickly and securely login to the system to access their information.
A Final Note on the Debswana Mine Project
The self-service touch screen kiosks were intended to give the “undesked” employees of the Debswana mines a way to manage their affairs and to interact and communicate with the company. Aside from improving employee satisfaction, this minimizes the number of inquiries HR is forced to deal with because employees can, in most cases, just go straight to the self-service kiosks. Judging from the fact that Tactile Technologies has just, this month, received a second order for kiosks is proof that the concept is working tremendously well.
Contact Tactile Technologies
To learn more about our products, contact Tactile Technologies at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com(Netherlands). Alternatively you can give our office a call at:
Cape Town TEL: +27 21 914 0819
Johannesburg TEL: +27 11 5538010
Kwa-Zulu Natal TEL: +27 31 701 3091
Netherlands: +31 646 270 636
You can discover our full range of products on the Tactile Technologies website.