RealTime IT News

Ford Wires Its Workforce

[Oakville, CANADA] Ford Canada's Ontario Truck Plant employee Madan Bhardwaj today became the first of nearly 17,000 eligible employees to receive a home computer under Ford's global computers-at-home program, dubbed "Model E."

Bobbie Gaunt, president and chief executive officer, handed Bhardwaj boxes containing his home computer, complete with color printer, monitor, and internal modem. The computers are available to all employees of Ford of Canada and its subsidiaries.

As the first Ford of Canada employee to take delivery under the program's pilot phase, Bhardwaj will enjoy his home computer system with unlimited Internet access at a nominal monthly cost of $10.

"The Model E program will help to unlock the full intellectual and creative capital of our company," said Gaunt. "I can think of no better way to achieve this than by connecting every employee online, linking them with the powerful e-commerce forces that drive business today."

The pilot phase of Model E is designed to help Ford of Canada evaluate the enrolment and delivery logistics prior to a full national rollout in January. At that time, the program will be launched at the company's operations in Windsor, then St. Thomas, Ontario, and later move to other provinces.

The overall Model E program co-ordinator is San Francisco-based PeoplePC (NASDAQ:PEOP). PeoplePC chief executive officer Nick Grouf said his company is "thrilled that Ford of Canada employees can now take advantage of Model E's easy and economical way of getting online, becoming more techno-savvy and participating in the digital economy."

Employees will access the Web via a special portal that offers direct links to many Ford services and information sources and will be customized for each of the regions in the world where Ford does business. Like others, the portal will also allow them to customize their options, preferences and shortcuts.

The Model E base system is a Hewlett-Packard computer with 64 megabytes of SDRAM, a 15-gigabyte hard drive, 48X speed CD-ROM drive, 15-inch monitor, Polk stereo speakers and 667 megahertz of processing power. Bundled software includes MS Works 2000, Quicken Basic, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, MusicMatch Jukebox, and McAfee Anti-virus software. The color printer is an HP DeskJet 640C and all packages included a 56K modem.

Ford of Canada's central office, regional operations, assembly and manufacturing plants employ more than 16,000 people. During the 1990s these operations attracted more than $7 billion in new investment. In 1999, consolidated revenues were $30 billion -- up 13 percent from a year earlier -- making Ford of Canada one of the country's largest companies.