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.