Headwaters’ success is dependent on gathering and shipping fly ash efficiently. In order to maintain streamlined operations, the Headwaters IT group needed to equip employees with PC technology that best supports their day-to-day activities. Employees who would use the PCs range from accountants to plant workers, so the PC solution would have to be flexible to meet their varied needs and work environments. It would need to occupy a small surface area, operate at rapid speeds and run internal programs relevant to the concrete industry - an all-in-one PC solution that enable the employees to maximize on their efficiency and speed.
Headwaters Resources is a leading supplier of fly ash to the concrete industry, a necessary component to concrete and tar production. In U.S. states such as Utah, fly ash comprises 20-30 percent of the concrete that is used to make new roads and construct buildings. With coast to coast operations, and a suite of fly ash based products in its portfolio, Headwaters is America’s leader in fly ash technology and marketing.
As a company focused on extracting, gathering and distributing fly ash derived from coal embers, Headwaters Resources requires durable and reliable PC technology that can help its employees work quickly and accurately. Josh Crosby, director of IT for Corporate Headwaters Resources, and his team needed a partner to help them develop a solution to span Headwaters’ varied departments. The solution would need to provide economies of scale while also guaranteeing added speed and superior functionality. Headwaters employees were also facing difficulties using their current PCs to open files created in old formats, such as in Windows 95. Some existing PCs wouldn’t even allow executives to sync their PDAs. Headwaters Resources plans to deploy more than 1,000 Lenovo PCs through a phased approach – the ThinkCentre A70z All-in-One desktop is the primary desktop model being deployed. Additional Lenovo PCs selected by Headwaters include the ThinkPad T400, ThinkPad T400s, ThinkPad T410 and ThinkPad T410s laptops.
Beginning in 2009, Headwaters Resources began outfitting its organization with ThinkCentre A70z All-in-One desktops in departments such as the scale house, accounts payable/ receivable, shipping and logistics and at fly ash sites. In addition, Crosby selected several ThinkPad laptops for senior executives that travel often andrequire the highest levels of PC reliability and data security. These PCs include the ThinkPad T400, ThinkPad T400s, ThinkPad T410 and ThinkPad T410s laptops.
Since the A70z was selected as the company’s primary PC model, Crosby tested the PC in several areas of the organization to ensure it could meet employees’ varied needs and activities. For example, Elizabeth Doney, the head accounting clerk was provided an A70z to use for several weeks. The streamlined, all-in-one design was an instant hit with her who previously had to work with two monitors, two desktop towers and two mice to effectively meet her job responsibilities.
The A70z powered by Intel® processors was also more powerful than her existing system, which eliminated frustrating system delays and helped her get more work done each day. The Headwaters PC solution also needed to support proprietary software programs that help the company operate efficiently when shipping fly ash throughout the country. As Crosby indicated, “It is very frustrating when we can’t open files because some PCs are not pre-loaded with a specific program. We needed an easy way to ensure all of our PCs support the same tools so our employees’ have what they need at their fingertips in all departments at all locations.”
Lenovo Imaging Technology Center, which specializes in image management including creation, migration and deployment, worked closely with the Headwaters Resources IT team to create and preload a corporate image for all PCs. Crosby and his team are no longer burdened by loading new PCs themselves and can rest easy knowing that Lenovo maintains and stores the company’s master image for whenever Headwaters deploys new PCs.
All-in-One PCs has helped the company’s employees increase operational efficiency and productivity. A top priority for Crosby and his team was to identify a PC solution with the latest features and innovative tools, but that could also fit in their strict IT budget.
Equipped with a choice of powerful Intel® processors and graphics as well as expansive memory, the ThinkCentre A70z All-in-One delivers top performance at an attractive price point. “Our A70z desktops are the perfect fit to support our daily activities, but they are more than just where we access files – they are hubs for all of our activities throughout the day,” said Crosby.
“Our teams work more collaboratively now by using both email and video chat on their A70z. ”The ThinkCentre A70z’s rich communications portfolio allows Headwaters employees to maintain communication and “face time” with colleagues easily and seamlessly no matter where they are working. The A70z includes a 1.3 Megapixel webcam, built-in Skype application for VOIP and an integrated microphone.
In addition, the A70z All-in-One’s 19-inch widescreen LCD display provides employees’ desks a much needed makeover by eliminating clutter and multiple peripherals. As employees move between sites, they can bring their A70z with them thanks to a convenient built-in handle. In addition, Headwaters personnel also have several options if they would like to mount the all-in-one, including using a wall mount.
Crosby also noted that Lenovo’s Windows® 7 Enhanced Experience certification further established the A70z as the best solution for Headwaters. “We knew we would have to make the transition to Windows® 7 sooner than later and Lenovo’s unique certification with Microsoft has made the switch easier while also delivering features we couldn’t find anywhere else.” For example, employees using the A70z All-in-One with Lenovo Enhanced Experience can bootup in as little as 35 seconds. “Our employees are focused on making the most of their workdays,” Crosby noted.
“Decreasing the time we spend waiting for our PCs to boot up gives us crucial minutes back, which is critical since after all, time is money.” Using Lenovo Windows® 7 equipped PCs, employees can also select the “Windows XP mode” to open old files even if the PC is no longer running XP. This feature has made it very easy for Crosby and his team to transition employees to their new PCs – using XP mode, any Headwaters’ files created using the old operating system can be seamlessly accessed without needing to install additional memory or graphics hardware.
Equipment, including PCs, are often shared between Headwaters locations, whether to support a specific project or if an employee changes locations. Keeping track of the many components typically needed for a PC became a headache for the IT team. Using the A70z, inventory directors no longer have to track monitors, keyboards and docking stations as separate devices. Tracking one component enables the inventory and IT teams to maintain accurate data, as well as focus their efforts on more business critical tasks.
“With so many PCs deployed in various work environments, it’s usually only a matter of time before a system crashes or gets infected with a virus,” said Crosby. “Previously, employees who’s PCs crashed would have to ship the PC back to the IT team. We would work on it as quickly as possible and then the PC would be shipped back. Or, we would spend hours on the phone trying to talk them through various fix scenarios. The set of tools that Lenovo offers on its PCs has helped decrease system downtime as well as strain on our IT team’s budget and resources.”
All Lenovo PCs come equipped with a suite of selfhelp tools called ThinkVantage Technologies. The Headwaters IT team includes several of these tools to decrease PC downtime and related service and support costs. For example, the Headwaters IT team uses the Hardware Password Manager tool on their ThinkCentre A70z desktops to remotely manage employees’ hard drive passwords in case they are forgotten or need to be updated. Additionally, employees have the Rescue and Recovery tool available at the touch of a button, which helps them to restore lost or corrupted files.
“Our PCs must go the distance, literally,” said Crosby. “Our employees work in various corners of the country and in nontraditional environments such as coal mines. It’s critical that we have the flexibility to rearrange our PCs where and when we need them and that we never compromise data security wherever we are working.”
Layered software and hardware security tools on the A70z help ensure that Headwaters’ PCs are not easily susceptible to malware and hacks and have contingency plans for data. For example, Lenovo’s Online Data Backup tool provides the Headwaters IT team with secure, encrypted and offsite storage for sensitive data so if an employee does lose his/her PC, company data is still protected. Absolute® Computrace on all of Headwaters’ Lenovo PCs also helps the IT team track the locations of systems more closely, as well as recover lost or stolen PCs.
To this point, the Headwaters IT team is focused on “doing more with less” and optimizing costs where possible. Lenovo’s Power Manager Software on the A70z enables IT personnel to remotely manage the power usage across the company’s entire fleet of PCs. The IT team sets controls across various departments to manage their power levels, screen brightness and other energyconsuming features on each PC to help minimize energy usage and save money. The ThinkCentre A70z being Energy Star® 5.0 compliant, is expected to save Headwaters’ approximately $65 a year per PC in the cost of electricity.
Headwaters’ business is rooted in the ability to minimize waste from the coal industry by making use of the byproducts of the coal industry, or what some would consider environmental waste. The environmentally responsible attributes of the ThinkCentre A70z are aligned with the company’s business objectives.
Crosby noted, “Lenovo’s attention to detail has gone beyond our expectations. We did not foresee that our PC solution would have such a far reaching impact on our operations – right down to managing power consumption on individual PCs to help us minimize costs.”
Since choosing Lenovo’s ThinkCentre A70z All-in-One as Headwaters’ primary PC, Josh Crosby has been regarded as a “hero” within the company. The enthusiastic feedback from employees already equipped with their new Lenovo PCs has fueled interest from other groups to make the transition. Crosby feels confident that he has the tools and the partner to continue the deployment easily and seamlessly.