The firm, part of TDK’s Sensor Systems Business Company, develops and manufactures sensor solutions and embedded motor controllers for automotive and industrial applications. Products include Hall switches, linear sensors, 3D direct-angle sensors and current sensors. To date, under the brand Micronas, the firm has shipped over five billion Hall sensors.
Paul Blenderman, Manager, Servers and Infrastructure at TDK-Micronas explained the immediate challenge faced by the firm, “We have design engineers located at a number of locations globally, but with a large concentration at our operational headquarters in Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany. When the COVID-19 crisis hit Germany, many of our layout engineers that live in the Grand Est region of France, were unable to commute due to the lockdown restrictions. Many others needed to work from home wherever possible too, and so we had to quickly adapt, which we were able to thanks to secure remote access provided by OpenText Exceed TurboX.”
Preparing for the transition to home working
The OpenText™ Exceed™ TurboX solution was deployed a number of years ago at the company’s data centers, providing server-side application execution and front-end rendering, delivered over a network connection. This enabled the designers and layout specialists to effectively work remotely.
“We’ve been benefitting from faster execution, with far less data being transmitted over our wide area network since implementing OpenText Exceed TurboX,” said Blenderman, “We were able to replace Linux workstations with Microsoft® Windows® PCs, which are used for office tools as well. Our R&D engineers have been able to work quicker, not suffering from network latency in the way they used to, as data securely remains on our central servers. When COVID-19 hit, this was the perfect foundation for them to transition to home working.”
Many of the 1,000 or so staff at TDK-Micronas are involved in the design of integrated circuits, which is a time-consuming and resource-intensive process. Its engineers use a variety of powerful software tools, including graphically intensive interactive layout tools, such as Custom Compiler from Synopsys, to help design and test its products.
“When governments introduced travel restrictions and other lockdown guidelines, our initial concern was that we would be unable to continue our development efforts,” added Blenderman, “Our ability to meet R&D timescales would be severely impacted, or even cease. This in turn would cause delays in product releases, resulting in a very hard financial impact on the business, as well as unhappy customers.”
Many users had laptops that were already setup for remote working, such as from home. However, design engineer desktops had to be secured as they would not ordinarily be used away from the secure office environment. Hard disks were encrypted and virtual private network (VPN) access was configured.
“Once successfully tested, engineers were able to take their desktop computers home, along with all their peripherals, including high resolution, large monitors,” explained Blenderman, “They were then able to continue using OpenText Exceed TurboX to access their design sessions on our secure servers, safe in the knowledge that data would never leave our data centers. There was no reduction in performance, with some reporting that performance actually improved. We had faith that Exceed TurboX would be able to handle the challenge and we were correct.”