A leading manufacturer of pediatric braces for legs and feet, Cascade Dafo has found a niche helping children lead healthier, happier lives. Specifically, Cascade produces lower extremity ankle/foot orthosis with a focus on working with children. What makes Cascade unique is that it uses thin, flexible plastic to support the child's foot and ankle, allowing for movement and motion where that child has that available to them. Traditional braces are both rigid and thick. The goal is to improve the mobility skills of children to ultimately improve their quality of life. This means always making sure that it's the best fitting device it could possibly be. This only happens when a brace is custom designed rather than taking a one-size-fits-many approach.
For Cascade, the process starts with clinicians casting the child. When Cascade receives a cast, it scans the outside perimeter to provide CAD operators with detailed measurements. They then reduce the overall volume by the thickness of the cast, apply algorithms and make modifications based on the practitioner’s prescription. These steps ultimately allow Cascade to start the production process by carving a foam positive based off the 3D image.
Kicking up dust
Unfortunately, the carving process results in a lot of fine dust particles. And, simply put, computer workstations do not mix well with dust – resulting in an undesirable failure rate in workstations deployed within the plant environment. That is when Cascade Dafo IT Director Steven Zehm started investigating virtual desktop infrastructure VDI and was intrigued by Teradici. “It was an opportunity to get the workstations off the plant floor and replacing them with a solid-state device,” Zehm says. “We moved our CAD users’ graphics workstation to our server room where it's temperature control.”
Today, Cascade has been able to take the workstations off the plant floor, relocating them into their data center/server room. Now, rather than have a workstation collecting particle dust within the environment where employees are producing braces, everything resides in secure server room. And, all they have on the shop floor now is a monitor, keyboard, mouse and a zero client serving as an endpoint device. Rather than accessing all the IP and data on that workstation, it is actually accessing just the pixels.
“It is an end-to-end solution using the PC over IP protocol to basically encode the pixels, encrypt them on the server side and transmit them over the network,” says Ziad Lammam, vice president of product at Teradici. “They get decrypted and decoded by the endpoint. There's no local operating system running on the zero client. It is simply decoding the pixel stream. If it disappears, there's actually no personal identifiable data on that device. They don't have to worry about particles getting into the machine, extending product life and reducing the overall cost of their infrastructure solution.”
Since each brace is unique, Cascade is responsible for maintaining sensitive information. And, even with solid security practices in place, Cascade realized there had to be a better way. With the virtual workstations, Cascade is able to isolate data in compliance with HIPAA, ensuring patient data is secure and not accessible to either public environments or employees who are not permitted to have access to that data.
“As a medical equipment manufacturer, we have a lot of patient data in house and it is an ongoing challenge to protect patient data,” Zehm says. “There's no hard drive, there's nothing stored on the client. So if we lose a device, or an employee becomes disgruntled we can just deactivate the account, and there's nothing on the device that could do damage.”
Cascade has also been able to spin one up virtual machine in less than 10 minutes when it needs to add a new user. “It's very straightforward to do that if they have capacity in their data center for additional compute or GPU cycles,” says Lammam. “The scalability enables companies like Cascade to power their work from home, remote work employees. They send home a zero client, and users can securely connect from anywhere.”
Although the system was installed pre-COVID, as the pandemic continues there has been an acceleration in the need for a virtual workstation solution, explains Lammam. “Many of us are working from home and we'll be doing so for many months to come,” he says. “Having access to a virtual workstation solution has enabled Cascade to seamlessly pivot as more staff works remotely without creating new infrastructure.”