Ford to save over a million dollars by turning off computers


March 22, 2010

Ford estimates it will save US$1.2 million annually by implementing a new PC Power Management program

Ford estimates it will save US$1.2 million annually by implementing a new PC Power Management program

If companies and individuals still need an example of the economic and environmental benefits of switching off electrical equipment when not in use, here it is. Ford estimates it will save US$1.2 million annually on power costs alone and reduce its carbon footprint by an estimated 16,000 to 25,000 metric tons annually by implementing a new PC Power Management program. The new program will centrally control the power settings on Windows laptops and desktop PCs to enable a managed shutdown of computer systems not in use, especially overnight and on weekends.

A "Power Profile" will be developed which allows each PC in the company to monitor its usage patterns and determine when it can be turned off. If the user is working late, he or she will be alerted of the approaching power down and given the opportunity to delay it. In addition, the PC is able to detect when a Microsoft Office product is active and is able to save open documents before shutting down in case the user is not present.

At the same time, Ford says the system ensures all computers connected to its Intranet are awake and able to receive software deliveries during off hours, decreasing downtime during working hours due to software loads.

“In the past, as many as 60 percent of Ford’s PC users haven’t shut their PCs off at the end of the business day, resulting in wasted energy,” said Keith Forte, Ford IT project supervisor. “Going forward, we’ll be able to manage PC power consumption more efficiently while minimizing interruptions during the working day as a result of software updates.”

Ford developed the PC Power Management system with NightWatchman software from 1E Inc, whose research found that almost half of all employees who use computers at work typically do not power them down at the end of the working day. According to the company, in the U.S. alone over US$2.8 billion of PC power is being wasted every year.

PC Power Management is being rolled out to Ford computer users across the U.S. this month. It will be migrated to Ford operations around the world later in the year.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

They could save even more if they blocked off a few windows and turned off a few lights. If this is in Dearborn, they ought to take a thermal image of the building some January night - that\'d be bright.


\"The new program will centrally control the power settings on Windows laptops and desktop PCs\"

So, this means that Ford doesn\'t use Linux or Macs on their end user machines?

And if they have this many Windows machines to make it worth 1.2 million dollars just to turn them off for 8-10 hours per day, the development and deployment time and money to implement this is probably more than 1.2 million dollars! I would like to know what the return on their investment is on this project! And the real-world implementation effects are...such as how many machines are actually shut down and the number of trouble tickets and support calls that are made by the implementation of this application...and of course user training.



...and here in the military, we are told to \"leave on your computers overnight and on the weekends so we can push out updates...\"

One of the other considerations that prevents energy conservation for the government is that many of them pay the utilities based on flat rates calculated by previous years\' usage. There\'s very little incentive or way to accurately trace up-to-the-minute energy and money savings in huge military complexes. But, boy do we use jigga-watts of electricity! And we could save billions by implementing smart technology at the hundreds of thousands of federal government installations.


Chuckmerja - That photo is actually from the Ford Dagenham plant in Britain, which is 100% powered by two wind turbines. A third turbine is being installed this year.

So, yeah, it\'s bright, but there is a lot of green tech in the building, too, to keep the energy drain down. Remember that a photo may be misleading - the camera shutter speed was a bit slow (given the blurred turbine blade) and that brightens the lights.

Tom Culler

Ed - Yes, 8-10 hours a day... remember it\'s also 48 hours on weekends and typically 24 hours for each of the 16 holidays per year.... minus time for system updates. It does add up.

Tom Culler

Just Limit the use of energy :) writing services

Ebony Back

Wouldn\'t it have been just as easy if their IT staff had set the power options on their PCs to go on standby or hibernation after 15 minutes of inactivity?


Spirit - Yes, if it was in the OS build on the desktop. There are a few issues, though...

There are a number of people who frequently (or occasionally) need to leave their PCs running overnight (reports running, apps testing, etc.) and non-contact with the keyboard or mouse doesn\'t mean that processes can be interrupted. User profiles are generally locked down and so they may not be able to change power settings.

Not all hardware handles standby/hibernation well, considering BIOS revision, hardware support, PC age, and apps/tools that may prevent hibernation (i.e., ActiveSync on some PCs). Some can standby or hibernate but any attached hardware doesn\'t recover well from it. Laptops seem to handle these settings better, but this program is mostly aimed at desktops.... thousands and thousands of them, many different models (though usually all the same manufacturer.)

Tom Culler
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