UNISON’s journey to cloud-based CAD

UNISON’s journey to cloud-based CAD

In 2022, Berlin-based design engineering firm UNISON Engineering & Consultants GmbH began shifting CAD workloads to the cloud, using virtual workstations from Designair. Learn why UNISON made this journey - and the impact it has had. 

Design engineering in a changing world

UNISON Engineering & Consultants GmbH is an independent engineering company headquarterd in Berlin that has been active in plant engineering for over 25 years. The core competence is in the execution of engineering services in manifold phases of the planning of process plants of numerous industries. Like so many businesses, the coronavirus pandemic has profoundly affected how UNISON operates. The company using the AVEVATM 3D CAD software, needed to find a new way of working.

Markus Raue, Project Engineer and Head of Adminstration, Projektingenieur & Head of Administration, Engineering Design Department

Markus Raue is Project Engineer and Head of Adminstration, Engineering Design Department at UNISON. Markus explains that UNISON began using Designair virtual workstations in 2022 as part of its strategy to adapt.

When the pandemic struck in 2020, UNISON's entire design team was forced to work remotely. Staff needed to use a VPN to connect to their on-premises environment to work on their AVEVATM E3D databases. 

Markus came to the conclusion that, while the VPN was a helpful short-term fix, it was often painfully slow and could sometimes fail - meaning people lost hours of work.

Even as lockdowns ended, many of UNISON's employees wished to continue working remotely. What is more, the company was also growing and working remotely on large projects became more difficult. To meet demand, they began working with a number of external contractors to support on projects – and these contractors also worked remotely. As a result, a longer-term solution other than VPNs was required.


Employees using CAD



AVEVATM Diagrams


Berlin and other

(meanwhile distributed throughout Germany)







In 2022, the business made the decision to explore cloud-based options to help remote workers to be more productive, Markus says. 

Introducing Designair

Designair provides GPU-powered virtual desktops that let architects, engineers and designers (AED) work on complex 3D applications anywhere with an internet connection. Almost all 3D software can be installed on Designair's workstations (including AVEVATM E3D).

With Designair you can connect to your virtual desktop in the cloud. This gives you the same power and speed as your office workstation or laptop. You can then use your CAD or BIM software over the internet.

Designair lets you create complex 3D models in a special browser, based on the technology from Splashtop.The service is currently used by CAD and BIM professionals in architecture, engineering, construction, education, and manufacturing.

UNISON’s cloud journey

UNISON began looking for cloud solutions for its remote designers in early 2022, and they received a tip from Schuller&Co, a german company which distributes AVEVA products, to check out Designair In March, they began a trial with two employees using Designair’s virtual workstations. “It went really well and showed the technology could do what we needed” Markus says.

Before rolling out the technology across the entire business, Markus explains they began a larger trial in April, with more users working on a couple of client projects. “This was an opportunity for us to see if it would be effective at a bigger scale”. Once again, the experience was a success.

As of summer 2022, UNISON has 30 users working with AVEVATM E3D in Designair, in addition to a handful of external subcontractors who can connect remotely.

Designair's support teams helped them with all technical issues.

“We've been really impressed by Designair’s responsiveness” he says. “There have been times we’ve needed to add new users, and the team from Designair was able to get accounts up and running, so that the new users were completely ready to work in less than 24 hours”. This speedy service makes it easy to meet their changing requirements.

Today, UNISON is using a combination of on-premises systems and Designair’s virtual machines. The cloud hasn't entirely replaced their previous way of working yet, but it has given the business greater flexibility and options to scale fast.

Working in UNISON

Markus lists some of the key benefits UNISON has experienced since it began working in the cloud:

Easily adding new users

UNISON can now quickly add and remove employees to projects, enabling a much more flexible business model. Their in-house employees, customers, and subcontractors can easily view and make changes to CAD files in the cloud from anywhere with an internet connection.

Comparable user experience

There is no significant difference in the user experience when using AVEVATM E3D in the cloud compared to on-premises, Markus reports. The engineering teams can continue working with their software without any noticeable usability difference.

Employee satisfaction

Since employees can now work remotely, UNISON and its staff experience much greater flexibility. This means there is less traffic in the company’s Berlin offices (helping tackle the spread of coronavirus), and employees benefit from an improved work/life balance.

Ready to begin you journey to the cloud?

As UNISON’s experience shows, design firms can now work very easily with CAD software that is installed on cloud-based virtual workstations. This approach affords greater flexibility, reduces the need for people to be at the office to work, not to mention cost and time savings.

To learn more about Designair, request a free trial, or schedule an appointment, visit this website: https://www.designair.io/.