Farm Costing Solutions (TMS System)
‘worth every cent’

Gerhard van Rooyen says that after the cell phone, the Farm Costing Solutions (TMS) electronic labour management system is the best invention ever

Gerhard and Annekie van Rooyen farm in the Mooinooi district, in the North West Province.

On 90 hectares they cultivate guavas, peaches and  blueberries. Under the name of Magalies Fruit Packers their produce is locally delivered to Woolworths, Freshmark and the Pretoria and Johannesburg markets. They also export to the United Kingdom.
Gerhard manages the farm, the development of orchards, the spray programme and harvesting, while Annekie is mainly concerned with the administration duties.

Managing wages

Fruit farming is labour intensive, and labour costs are usually the biggest expense. The Van Rooyens employ between 60 and 80 workers; less during the off-season and more during harvesting time. With a long harvesting season that stretches from March to the end of November, managing the workers, especially their wages, used to be a challenge and a headache. The foreman had to keep a record of every bucket of fruit picked by the workers, hours worked and overtime. All this was manually entered into separate registers for the  permanent workers and the seasonal workers. It was inevitable that mistakes, which were very difficult to rectify, were made. The foreman
had to be everywhere – in the packing shed, available during overtime – it became an untenable situation.

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It took Annekie two days every month to calculate the wages and still mistakes crept in. As the enterprise grew it became more difficult and time consuming to manage the workforce. Time is money – they had to find a solution.

Introducing Time Management Solutions

They decided to change from manually keeping track of wages to an electronic solution and opted for the TMS system. The TMS system is a product of Farm Costing Solutions, a South African-based company that offers a one-stop solution to easily record and manage all costs on a farm. The TMS system is an easy-to-use, time saving means to electronically record and budget for labour-related costs. Along with accurately determining job costing and productivity, the TMS system is also an efficient means to log time and attendance information.

Farm workers are issued with a plastic ‘tag’ that they swipe against a ‘reader’ device when they arrive at work and leave in the evening. The TMS system is also ideal to record piece work, where workers swipe their ‘tags’ against a portable ‘reader’ when they have completed a specific task, under the supervision of a manager. The system then automatically calculates each worker’s wages based on the work they have completed, for example, how many bags of fruit were picked during that day per orchard.

There is no opportunity for the worker to cheat the system by swiping more than once, as each worker’s average productivity history is registered and all irregularities are automatically flagged. With the TMS system each individual’s performance can be monitored. Weak or unproductive workers can be immediately identified and the issue can be addressed by giving them additional training. All data generated by the TMS system is easily available and the system interfaces with various payroll systems, such as VIP, Donkerhoek Data and the FCS (Crest) Payroll system. Additionally, reports are easily accessible for absenteeism, lateness, short time, overtime, daily hours and weekly hours. Customised for each farmer’s needs.

The Van Rooyens make use of three electronic ‘readers’. One is for their day workers that have to swipe their ‘tags’ when they arrive at work and leave in the evening, so as to accurately record the number of hours worked. The other ‘readers’ are for the workers that do the pruning and picking in the orchards. Every evening the data is downloaded and at the end of the month imported to the FCS (Crest) Payroll system.

The Farm Costing Solutions (TMS system) can be customised to satisfy each farmer’s specific needs. For example, the Van Rooyens’ system is set up that for every two buckets of fruit that are picked the ‘tag’ is swiped once.

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Annekie says it took only a few days for workers to adapt to the system. “Obviously everything new takes time to learn, but our workers found it very easy. In less than a week everyone was comfortable with the system.”

She explains that the Farm Costing Solutions (TMS system) makes submitting information to SARS e-filing a breeze. The Skills Development Levy (SDL) and Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) are effortlessly calculated. The government Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) – under which employers are entitled to a tax rebate where they employ South Africans between the ages of 18 to 29 years – is done automatically on recognition of the worker’s identity document.

The support provided by the Farm Costing Solutions (TMS system) team was excellent. “They provided full training. During the first wage cycle one of the Farm Costing Solutions (TMS system) team members even came from Cape Town to assist me. The solution to any problem is only a telephone call away and all queries are handled in a friendly and patient manner,” says Annekie. She says the Farm Costing Solutions (TMS system) has changed her life. Where in the past she spent two days on wages, it now takes two hours. They are saving time and saving time equals saving money.

“We started using the Farm Costing Solutions (TMS system) in May this year and have not looked back since. The Farm Costing Solutions (TMS system) has given us an excellent return on investment and it is worth every cent.”

What are the advantages of the Farm Costing Solutions (TMS system)?

  • The Farm Costing Solutions (TMS system) offers the following benefits: •
  • Measuring of productivity per employee/ team/farm
  • Significantly decreases payroll processing time and administration work • Saves costs through accurate monitoring
  • Can be used as evidence in disciplinary hearings
  • Leads to a more effective and efficient workforce
  • Statistics and data are instantly available
  • User friendly for farmworkers
  • Customised for individual farmer needs
  • Has a readily available support system of trained specialists
  • Pays for itself by cost savings – excellent return on investment

The Farm Costing Solutions (TMS system) can be used to record a variety of labourrelated costs, including:

  • Time and attendance
  • Piece work / productivity
  • Job costing
  • Unproductive time

For more information about how your business can benefit from TMS, contact Val Harker at: Landline: +27 (0)21 556 2561 Cellphone: +27 (0)82 518 2300 Email: val@tms.za.net www.tms.za.net