IGEL thin clients put PCs to rest at In Pace-DELA Funeral Services
In Pace-DELA Uitvaartverzorging specialises in the complete funerals and cremation process. In Pace-DELA, which has branches in Hengelo and Oldenzaal, has arranged funeral services in the entire Twente area for over 25 years. At the office, the undertakers perform administrative tasks and handle a large volume of digital printing work for their clients.
Oldenzaal-based In Pace employed four undertakers before it was acquired in 2001 by DELA, the largest funeral director in the Netherlands. Previously, each undertaker was provided with a notebook computer as well as an individual workstation for performing administrative tasks at the office. At the Oldenzaal branch, there was also a standalone workstation with Adobe PageMaker for printing obituaries in-house using an OKI colour printer.
After the acquisition by DELA, the workload at the Oldenzaal office steadily increased. In 2001, five undertakers who had previously been working for another DELA office were added to the staff. This meant that the Oldenzaal office had to provide facilities for a total of nine undertakers – nearly double the original number. The undertakers from DELA already had their own notebook computers, but had to be able to print obituaries and service sheets either at the Hengelo or at the Oldenzaal office of Pace-DELA Uitvaartverzorging. Due to insufficient IT resources, little physical office space and limited IT ability of the undertakers, John Wigger, who is responsible In Pace DELA’s automation, decided to thoroughly assess the entire IT infrastructure. “Things became rather cluttered at the Oldenzaal office. In some cases, staff members had to queue up at the workstation that was connected to the OKI printer. I also received many phone calls from people who had problems with their PCs, which had to be solved either by me or by our former automation partner. All this had to change if the working conditions were to improve and the productivity of the undertakers was to increase — as well as mine.”
In 2004, the company’s PCs were written off and In Pace-DELA also needed a new server to cope with the staff expansion and the resulting pressure on the IT infrastructure. John Wigger decided to ask his automation partner for advice and a quotation. He asked the same from Denko, the same company that had already delivered and set up the OKI printer to the full satisfaction of the funeral company. The latter came up with a proposal that was not only more cost-efficient, but also promised a ‘cleaner’ end result. Both quotations were evaluated at DELA’s main office in Eindhoven by the IT Procurement department, where they arrived at the same conclusion.
Singing from the same service sheet
Denko’s proposal included a server-based computing solution with nine IGEL thin clients and an industrial-strength Intel 2 GHz Xeon server with four 36-Gigabyte hard disks running Windows 2003. All applications used by the funeral agents – Microsoft Office 2003, Adobe PageMaker, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, Corda and Ad Systems – are made available on the thin clients via the server. No applications are installed locally. In addition, the OKI printer is now ubiquitously available to all staff members, even from clients’ homes, thus increasing work efficiency. Denko is responsible for the management of the IT environment.
Wigger comments: “The current environment with Windows-based IGEL thin clients was cheaper in terms of hardware and software costs, because we are now able to use multi-user licences for applications such as Adobe Photoshop and PageMaker. Management and maintenance for these applications have been simplified significantly. The general IT know-how of our staff members was and remains relatively low. For them, the computers are instruments with which they can perform their duties. This means the computers simply have to work.”
The IGEL thin clients meet this requirement perfectly. The undertakers can use the applications they need, but do not have to install any software or perform any activities that could compromise the stability of their machine. If an application must be updated, it doesn’t have to be done manually on each machine any more. It can now take place from a central location and will save a considerable amount of time.
Nothing left to chance
In addition, the costs for calling in the help of third-party automation providers have been drastically reduced, since hardly any problems occur at the client side. Since their roll-out, not a single client has had any down-time, confirms Dennis Koop, Director of Denko-ICT, and as a result, he is very pleased with the deployment of IGEL thin clients. Besides the hardware, Denko also uses IGEL’s Remote Management Suite to upgrade all the the thin clients at once, for example to Windows 2003 Service Pack 2. “We are now considering using the Remote Management Suite for the daily management of the IGEL thin clients at In Pace-DELA and to deploy it, in the future, for other customers as well,” says Koop.
There are also benefits of a more indirect nature. For instance, the office environment in Oldenzaal has become much quieter, as the thin clients hardly produce any sound. The office also has a more harmonious aspect: “Because of their size, we are able to install more IGEL thin clients than workstations within the limited office space. They’re very discreet and sleek, so the office looks better organised.”
With a possible renovation ahead, Wigger expects that the contingent of IGEL thin clients at the Oldenzaal office may be expanded to the other departments of In Pace-DELA, which currently employs a total staff of 21. “I am very pleased with our current server-based infrastructure. If we receive permission to renovate the Oldenzaal office, we will have to set up the workspaces again, and I will be using the same approach we are now using for the funeral agents,” concludes Wigger.