Most people will recognize the brand name PLEXIGLAS®, but few know that
the underlying technology for this and the wide array of polymers we
encounter every day is probably developed by global leader Röhm.
With 3,500 employees, revenues of EUR 1.9 billion and 15 production sites
across Germany, China, the US, Russia, and South Africa, Röhm is one of
the world’s leading manufacturers of methacrylate chemicals. The
company has 80 years of experience in methacrylate chemistry and an
unmatched technology platform. Their integrated approach to
manufacturing enables the flexibility needed to respond quickly to
changing market conditions and to meet dynamic customer requirements.
A new industrial plant was taking shape. In 2019, Röhm was planning a new MMA plant with the final site location yet to be finalized. In the past, when they were part of a larger parent organization, the design/build project teams for such an endeavor would have been internal, with project data kept in an on-premises datacenter.
With Röhm becoming an independent company the same year, a new approach was needed to develop the project, which would involve the enhanced use of external engineering resources.
Security is paramount
Engineering resources for the design of the new plant came from several companies, with project teams located across North America and Europe.
With this new approach, Röhm needed to provide secure, high-speed access to their design and digital twin platform, Aveva E3D Design and all of the associated project data. Once operational, this highly specialized factory would make use of extremely sensitive intellectual property (IP) – the foundation of the Röhm products that would be manufactured there. Therefore, security was of utmost importance. “We had to tightly control the data that went in and, most important, out of our development environment,” says Carsten Schmies, Head of Administrative Management for Röhm.
High-performance access is vital
The engineering work began with virtual development using a digital twin model. Inherent to the design process is the use of graphics intensive 3D modeling that is “performance-critical” according to Schmies. The Röhm team knew that hosting project data in their own datacenter would not be viable from a performance standpoint, since this would introduce unacceptable latency for distant project teams, hindering their productivity. Moreover, the Aveva solution they were using had stringent requirements for low latency that could not be compromised.
Limited cloud expertise
To centralize and secure their project data and provide high-speed access to it, the Röhm team set their sights on Microsoft Azure, but their experience with Azure was minimal. It was at this point that they decided to seek a partner with deep Azure experience that could provide the right Cloud PC solution and support the execution of this global factory design project.
The Röhm team recognized the depth of industry experience of the Workspot founders, which captured their attention as they navigated the virtual desktop selection process.
A new approach
Having made the decision to develop the project in a virtual environment, Röhm discovered Workspot through an introduction by their software partner Aveva.
Röhm faced a significant transition as they moved data and workstation workloads to the cloud. The IT team had very stringent security measures in place for their on-premises datacenter, so they needed to reach a comfort level that there would be no risk of IP leakage as they transitioned to the cloud. This was a critical milestone in the deployment process. The Workspot Customer Success team worked very closely with the Röhm IT team to provide the support necessary to ensure that multifactor authentication was properly deployed in addition to making use of Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) services. Augmenting these security measures, as they worked together with Workspot Customer Success, the Röhm team arrived at a greater understanding of the inherent security benefits of the Workspot architecture, which was built to enforce Zero Trust Security policy. Today they are confident that by moving to cloud workstations on Azure, these layers of security measures have strengthened their overall security posture beyond what was possible in their on-premises datacenter.
Performance expectations were high
”3D modeling is very demanding from a performance perspective. This is where Workspot was really, really, helpful. If we did not have this solution, it would be difficult for the engineers to work productively,” says Project Director, Helio Takahashi.
“Running 3D simulations is performance critical. We’re very happy with what we’ve delivered to our end users so far. I have received no complaints about performance or availability of the cloud workstations. They are really quite impressive,” says Sebastian Blümel, Röhm Workplace Architect.
With Workspot, anywhere-productivity is a reality at Röhm – there is no need for people to come together in an office. “Without Workspot, it would not be possible to access the applications with such high performance,” he adds.
The team credits the integration of the Aveva software platform, along with their Workspot cloud workstations, for enabling the design of the digital twin.
A flexible, simple solution
Takahashi shares that while there was a learning curve with the Workspot Cloud PC platform, it went very fast, and they had the opportunity to get started with a smaller group of engineers and become familiar with the solution. According to Takahashi, they had good support from Workspot throughout the deployment. “We didn’t start from zero. It also helped that our software partner Aveva had experience with Workspot. After the initial learning period, we were able to scale very quickly,” he says.
Sebastian Blümel adds that while the implementation team gained a good understanding of some of the “under-the-hood” aspects of Azure, they were not required to do so, since Workspot provides a comprehensive administration console for Röhm to deploy and manage their Cloud PCs and workstations globally. The
Workspot platform architecture was designed for massive horizontal scalability across cloud regions, a capability that is unique in the industry and which proved to be of significant value as Röhm expanded their initial deployment to multiple countries.
The extended engineering team now uses a variety of Workspot Cloud PC and cloud workstation configurations to precisely meet each end user’s needs. Röhm employees are provided with a corporate-owned endpoint to access their cloud workstations, while external engineers from partner firms have the flexibility to use their own devices to securely access their Workspot cloud workstations. Having this BYOD option further simplified onboarding of partner contractors.
“We’ve had a very successful experience with Workspot.” says Helio Takahashi. It’s hard to get such great performance anywhere else.”
Progress against the odds
By the time the COVID-19 pandemic began, Röhm had already deployed their cloud workstations. Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, they were able to continue their work without any interruptions, and they finished the first phase of the project on time. The combined Röhm and partner engineering teams are continuing their work on the factory digital twin using their Workspot cloud workstations on Azure. The basic engineering was completed in 2021 and after final investment approval was obtained, the detail engineering phase started. “Occasionally I take a look at the development progress and it’s super amazing to see how they work in a completely virtual environment. We no longer need to ship traditional workstations to physical locations all over the world,” says Blümel.
Optimized resources, better collaboration
Röhm has proven the value of engaging external engineering resources through partners. Despite the pandemic and the novelty of working across a large number of geographically dispersed contractors in multiple companies, project teams are able to collaborate better than ever. While the timing of adopting cloud workstations just before the COVID-19 pandemic began was fortuitous, the result was that when people had to abruptly go home to work, the transition was seamless. The team was able to continue working and collaborating without missing a beat. Going forward, the solution reduces the need for travel since they can collaborate with each other across many time zones, and they can source the best talent for their projects, no matter where those people are located.
Partnership and innovation
Blümel points out the unique benefits of their Workspot partnership. When you consider the cloud migration process, use of Aveva for the digital twin development, and managing external engineering resources across multiple companies – all during a pandemic – “everything about the project was new to everyone,” he says. The Röhm team calls out the problem resolution process, including dedicated Workspot resources and weekly meetings, as instrumental in keeping the rollout highly productive. Additionally, during deployment and testing of their cloud workstations, new requirements came to light, and they were able to collaborate with Workspot Customer Success to incorporate new features into the platform. “Having a dedicated technical contact and direct access to Customer Success is really beneficial,” he says.
“We’re very happy we chose Workspot,” says Carsten Schmies. “Our direct contact with Customer Success is really beneficial.”
The Workspot Enterprise Desktop Cloud platform is the only 100% cloud-native SaaS solution that delivers enterprise-class desktop-as-a-service (DaaS). This innovative service lets IT provision cloud desktops and workstations in minutes – not months – and securely deliver the right compute capabilities for each user, on any device, anywhere they want to work. Unlike do-it-yourself style virtual desktop offerings, Workspot’s innovative Desktop Control Fabric™ taps the reach and power of every hyper-scale, public cloud region globally, all from a central console. IT can expect fast time-to-value and on-demand, global scalability. Business leaders can respond faster to changing market dynamics, pursue new opportunities globally and hire the best talent anywhere, while fulfilling cloud-first mandates that position their companies for accelerated growth.
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