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Choosing the Right Synchronized Clock System for Your Business

synchronized clocks

In the U.S., time is not only of the essence for everyday people. Time is also money for businesses, and the lack of accurate timeservers can prove disastrous on a major scale. Synchronized clocks play a major role in keeping time for essential businesses that need to have only the very best synchronized time systems, down to the millisecond, in order to function properly, or else face catastrophe. Stock markets, power grids, even employee clock-in time systems such as Kronos all rely on accurate timing by synchronized clocks.

A study by Affinity Live, a company that specializes in services automation, showed that the U.S. economy loses an estimated $7.4 billion per day, equivalent to 50 million man-hours, due to improperly filled out timesheets! That number shows just how key it is to know the importance of maintaining synchronized clock systems, and finding the right fit for your business to save both time and money.

How Does a Synchronized Clock Work?

Synchronized clock systems work by a master clock that receives the correct time and then relays that time to other slave clocks on their server. A synchronized clock receives its time from either an NTP server usually internally set by a GPS receiver. The appropriate time signal will then be available continuously to the master clock in order to ensure accuracy to the slave clocks.

Which Should I Choose?

For smaller, everyday businesses, the choices for master clocks usually fall between  internal and external NTP master clock systems. NTP stands for network time protocol. There are currently four versions already developed of NTP, which is accurate to about 1 millisecond.

On the other hand, the more advanced PTP server, or Precision Time Protocol (PTP), is available for more high-tech businesses that need operations done with sub-microsecond accuracy. PTP is usually reserved for areas of business that need their synchronized clocks to be accurate up to the microsecond. These include the aforementioned financial stock market operations and other industrial businesses. Though a PTP time server is great for impressive accuracy, it’s not available on all network equipment. Most businesses use NTP time clock systems.

Choosing Between NTP and GPS

U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, maintains public NTP servers online that your business can easily take advantage of. However, without an accurate and strong network connection, latency, and other internet network system failures, your synchronized clocks could be compromised. In addition, you can only request time from NIST once every four seconds. However, costs for NTP are usually lower.

With an internal GPS sourced NTP time server, your cost for operating might increase, and more time will be needed to set up equipment such as antennas, but running an internal NTP server can be more secure. Whereas NTP synchronized clocks, sourcing time from internet sourced time servers, can go down due to network issues or cyber-attacks, once installed, an internal GPS system is low maintenance, and uses satellite time that remains widely available. All these functions don’t have a need for human involvement, lessening errors and the possibility of a security breach.

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