Office Automation

Advantages and Limitations of IP Clocks

What is an IP Clock: Yes, there is something called as IP Clock! The main purpose of an IP Clock system is to connect to the computer (IP) network and synchronize with the NTP server so that the same time can be displayed on all the clocks connected over the network. The above Youtube video is about synchronized clocks from a vendor and it also gives a small intro to IP clocks, at the end.

Components of an IP Clock: Analog/Digital clocks that can directly connect to the network using RJ-45 interfaces, Computer (IP) Network/ Cat 6 Cables, POE Switches/POE Injectors, NTP Server/Internet-based time-source.

Applications of an IP Clock: IP Clocks can be used in hospitals, schools, colleges, airports, railway stations, military, government departments, corporate companies, manufacturing facilities and any other venue that need to have a lot of clocks all around their campus.

Advantages of IP Clocks:

  • All the IP clocks in a facility sync with a time-server to display the same time across multiple locations
  • They connect to the existing computer network to communicate and hence there is no need to create a new network for synchronization
  • IP clocks receive time updates and synchronization details from an NTP server or an Internet clock source. It is also possible to configure multiple time sources for backup, in case one of them fails
  • All IP clocks can be individually/centrally managed through a web-based management software (with most vendors). One can view settings like time, date, display format, daylight savings info, etc and change them over the network
  • IP clocks receive power from a POE (Power Over Ethernet) source and it uses one cable for carrying both data and power (Cat6 cable). The POE source could be POE switches or POE injectors.
  • Some IP clock systems can intimate the administrator via email in case of any problems/malfunctions with IP clocks. Hence, individual clocks need not be manually monitored
  • IP clocks are available as both analog clock and digital clock models
  • Digital IP clocks can alternate between time/date and can display emergency messages like fire, etc. if required
  • Digital IP clocks can function as a Timer for Counting down or Counting up time (in hours, minutes and seconds)
  • IP clocks can use the Internet for communications and it is possible to set-up IP clocks (from a central web-based administrative console) in various international locations to display time based on their local time-zone
  • As IP clocks are powered by a POE source, there is no need to track and change batteries in each clock
  • Some digital IP clocks can be programmed to integrate with other systems (like school bell). They can also be programmed to reduce their brightness (and hence save energy/cost) during off-peak hours

Limitations of IP Clocks:

  • IP clocks are generally more expensive than their connected analog/digital counterparts
  • Since they connect to the IP network, each IP clock takes up an additional switch port
  • They occupy some bandwidth on the network and this might be an issue with networks that are already congested
  • The cost of POE (Power Over Ethernet) is quite high (for each port) and that contributes to the higher total cost of the IP clock system
  • One more device/system to manage on the IP Network

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