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How Synchronized Clock Systems Work

People have been keeping time for over 5,000 years, with the earliest “clocks” being primitive sundials built by ancient Egyptians. Today, time-keeping is far more advanced. One way modern companies maintain correct time throughout a facility is with synchronized clocks.

Wikipedia defines clock synchronization as “a topic on computer science and engineering that aims to coordinate otherwise independent clocks.” What this means is that synchronized clock systems keep multiple other clocks in time with one another. As the Wikipedia article continues, “even when initially set accurately, real clocks will differ after some amount of time due to clock drift, caused by clocks counting time at slightly different rates.” So a synchronized clock system prevents clocks from drifting off from their previously-set time.

Synchronized Clocks Explained

As the Wikipedia definition points out, a synchronized clock provides exactly the same time to all clocks within a given system. The synchronized clock system generally consists of a master clock that all other clocks are set to. After the master clock, there are secondary clocks, which take their time from the master clock, and slave clocks, which take their time from the secondary clocks.

The master clock sends messages to all of the secondary clocks within the system in order to provide them all with an accurate source of time. The purpose of this system is to make certain that all clocks within the system show the exact same time. In a building with a synchronized clock system, no matter where you are in the building, every clock inside it will display uniform and accurate time.

How Synchronized Clocks Work

In a synchronized clock system, the master clock will receive time from either a GPS receiver or an NTP server. Alternatively, it may have an internal clock that will be used as its time source.

Once the master clock has received the correct time from its source, this time is distributed to all slave clocks within the synchronized clock system. This signal is distributed several times over the course of the day, in order to maintain synchronized time across all clocks. This guarantees that each individual clock doesn’t drift away from their accurate time.

The Benefits of Having a Synchronized Clock System

The benefits of using a synchronized clock system in your facility are numerous. The primary benefit is that every person in the building will be following the exact same time source. This helps eliminate the confusion and disorder that might otherwise arise.

An additional feature that synchronized clocks offer is the complete elimination of having to correct the time when Daylight Savings Time begins or ends. Also, after a power outage, there won’t be any need to fix the clocks — they’ll all be set automatically as soon as the power comes back on.

Some master clocks include a scheduling feature, which allows the user to program alarms, lighting, and more to turn on at predetermined times. Another common feature is the “Count Up” and “Count Down” timer, which lets the user see elapsed time between shifts, between breaks, for Code Blue scenarios in operating rooms, and more.

Synchronized clock systems are integral for keeping a large workforce or business at the same time together. For more information, rely on TimeMachines to streamline your business practices.

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