Specialists as sought-after partners for industry
The HOF group of companies, with the companies HOF Sonderanlagenbau GmbH and HOF Prüfsysteme GmbH, has been in the possession of the central Hessian entrepreneur Hans-Georg Hof for several decades. Both companies are specialists in their branch, with their high level of know-how and many new innovative ideas laid the foundation for the high technological competence of the group.
HOF Sonderanlagenbau GmbH has been the leading specialist for manufacturing
individual freeze drying systems, loading and unloading systems
and freezing and thawing equipment for 30 years.
Power of innovation
to find answers
HOF Sonderanlagenbau GmbH
Phone + 49 6462 9169-0
Fax + 49 6462 9169-199
The innovative technology: HOF CryoBlizzard central cooling - Air as the refrigerant for the next generation of freeze drying and blast freezing
HOF has developed a new process, which uses ambient air as a refrigerant that exceeds the current requirements for freeze drying and blast freezing in the long-run.
Currently, the entire industry is in upheaval due to the social and political rules and regulations in regard to climate change, generating a level of uncertainty for many operating companies. Frequently asked questions refer to the problem of environmental compatibility, official regulations and directives as well as the availability and price development of operating media. This concerns refrigeration in particular, as the established technologies in this field are increasingly restricted by political regulations, bans and shortages. For installations with a service life of more than 30 years, operating companies focus especially on future-proof design, reliability and quality of their plants. Energy efficiency, safety, selection of components, documentation and durability are also crucial factors.
HOF CryoBlizzard - a technology sets new standards
As an innovative market leader, HOF always puts emphasis on customer needs and market demands. Together with Mirai Intex (https://mirai-intex.com/de/startseite/) as a partner, the HOF CryoBlizzard has been developed as a new technology for our market segment.
A HOF freeze dryer from 1998 was retrofitted especially for this R&D project. The plant is a freeze dryer with a batch capacity of 40 kg for insulin production. Before this retrofit, refrigeration was achieved by two refrigeration sets, each containing 12 kg of the refrigerant R404A (GWP100 = 3922). The process plant was controlled by a Siemens S5 control system.
Great performance with homogeneous temperature distribution
The overall retrofit has upgraded the lyo to a new refrigeration process, the HOF CryoBlizzard and to the current S7-1500 control system. With this new process, the refrigeration system consists of redundant cold air machines which are connected to a central primary tank in a modular system. The primary tank supplies the consuming units, such as shelf stack, ice condenser or blast freezer directly with the refrigerant medium and can therefore provide large capacities with homogeneous temperature distribution, all within a very short time. The usage of such a primary tank results in the fact that the consumption of cooling water and the power remain constant and no load peaks occur during the supply. Additionally, the cooling water consumption was reduced by half.
Air as refrigerant is free of charge and always available
The cold air machines from Mirai Intex are chillers which operate with air as a refrigerant using the Brayton cycle process. The maximum overpressure in the machines is 3 bar(a) and can be compared to that in a bicycle tire. This makes these machines particularly safe and environmentally friendly. Furthermore, no special requirements result in regards to the machine room set-up, employee training and recurrent testing. And in addition to all this, air as a refrigerant is free of charge and always available, has a GWP100 value of 0 (zero) and is therefore not affected by any regulations.
“As an innovative equipment manufacturer, we knew thatwe have to come up with a new way forward - for our customers. The advantages of air as a refrigerant are obvious. Air is available, non-flammable, non-toxic and poses no risk of suffocation. Air has no GWP value and is therefore not subject to the F-Gas Regulation or any other directives. That is the future!”, says Oliver Fleischer from the refrigeration engineering and service management department at HOF.
The HOF CryoBlizzard turbocompressor, oil-free and almost wear-free
The refrigeration circuit is driven by an air-bearing supported, oil-free turbo compressor–expander unit that runs with up to 88000 rpm and virtually no wear. The refrigeration medium is cooled in a heat transfer unit, integrated into the chiller. The air that is heated this way, is aspirated by the turbocharger and compressed (steps 1 to 2). Subsequently, the energy in the gas chiller is dissipated to the environment and cooled down (steps 2 to 3). In an inner heat transfer unit, the recuperator, the air is strongly cooled down (steps 3 to 4) and then relaxed for effective use in the expander (steps 4 to 5). This work is returned to compression. The energy is now absorbed through heating of the air in the cold medium/heat transfer unit (steps 5 to 6). After the air in the recuperator has been heated again (steps 6 to 1), it is aspirated by the compressor and the cycle starts anew.
With HOF CryoBlizzard - renewing existing systems as a retrofit or implementing new systems
The modular design enables the capacity of the HOF CryoBlizzard to be scaled up or down as needed. This allos its adaption from small freeze dryer units all the way to a central cooling system for complete factories. Existing plants can be retrofitted and new plants can be implemented. With the HOF CryoBlizzard, HOF has developed a future-proof solution for freeze drying and blast freezing which is not only safe for employees and the environment, but also sets new standards with regard to the quality and availability of the application. Therefore, the HOF CryoBlizzard is another alternative technology by HOF to solve the GWP-issue of synthetic refrigerants in the long-run.
In cooperation with the project partners:
MIRAI INTEX GmbH
Refolution Industriekälte GmbH
We are especially happy, that the technological magazine „DIE KÄLTE + Klimatechnik“ has published an article about our technology already in its most current issue. Source: Alfons W. Gentner Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Fachmagazin „DIE KÄLTE + Klimatechnik“, Article "Natürlich am besten", issue 01.2020, pages 18 - 19.
For more information on the innovative development, please contact Mr. Oliver Fleischer (Phone: 0049 6462-9169-228 - Email: oliver.fleischer(at)hof-sonderanlagen.de) or any other HOF representative.
Important about SIGRAPH and EPLAN 5
Since the existence of HOF Sonderanlagenbau GmbH all switchgear documentation (wiring diagrams) was prepared at HOF electrical engineering. From 1990 to 2004/2005 we used SIGRAPH and from 2004/2005 to 2012/2016 we used EPLAN 5, later EPLAN Electric P8.
Due to manufacturer-related changes we would like to draw your attention to the following announcements:
The CAE system SIGRAPH, used to create circuit diagrams until 2004, has already been discontinued by the manufacturer for some time. Economic processing of the circuit diagrams is therefore unfortunately no longer possible. We can therefore process changes in SIGRAPH diagrams only to a limited extent and must discontinue support for these circuit diagrams from 2022.
For larger modifications, we recommend converting the circuit diagrams to EPLAN P8.
EPLAN 5 announcements:
The CAE system EPLAN 5, used to create circuit diagrams between 2004 and 2016, has been replaced by the EPLAN P8 system. As of version EPLAN P8/2.8, EPLAN 5 can no longer run in a system environment. Furthermore, operation under Windows 10 is not released. However, support is still possible.
In the future, EPLAN 5 projects must therefore be migrated to P8 to enable further processing.
Bernd Becker (Head of Electronics Engineering)
"If modifications to your affected systems are planned, we will be happy to support you with a future-oriented solution."
Award: in the innovation elite for the fourth time running
HOF Sonderanlagenbau GmbH from Lohra has once again been selected as one of the best in the 26th edition of the TOP 100 innovation competition.
The company received the “top innovator” award for the fourth time running from the mentor of the competition Ranga Yogeshwar, scientific coordinator Prof. Dr Nikolaus Franke and compamedia in Frankfurt on 28 June.
HOF among TOP 100 companies again
398 companies entered the current round for a TOP 100 award.
TOP 100 uses a scientific system to evaluate the innovation management of SMEs.
This system, which was developed by Prof. Dr Nikolaus Franke, gives equal chances to manufacturing companies and service providers while also taking into account the respective size of the enterprises.
In this independent selection process, HOF and its 265 employees stood out in particular on account of its innovation success.
Finding innovative solutions – exploring new directions
For 30 years, the TOP 100 company has been specialised in the development and manufacturing of freeze drying systems, loading and unloading systems, and freezing and thawing equipment for the pharmaceutical industry. More than 2,000 systems in 27 countries prove the worldwide success of HOF.
Where bottles filled with frozen blood plasma used to be opened by people wearing gloves, this is now the task of a machine from the top innovator. The bottles are partially defrosted in an automatic process, opened with a so-called guillotine and then removed by robots for further processing of the plasma. The new innovative process from HOF is significantly faster and the system can operate around the clock.
“Being open to new things is a sign of a good innovation culture”
Physicist and scientific journalist Ranga Yogeshwar, who has been mentoring the competition since 2011, summarises the qualities of the TOP 100 as follows: “Being open to new things, tolerating mistakes, constantly striving to do things in a new and different way – those are the characteristics of a good innovation culture. A culture that is practised in the SMEs which we award with the TOP 100. They are exceptional medium-sized companies where the spirit of innovation has become part of their DNA. They are far-sighted, active entrepreneurs who focus on innovation every single day.” More information at www.top100.de.
HOF says thank you
“Receiving the award for the fourth time running makes us particularly proud.
We do not take it for granted and we will continue our endeavours to offer our customers the best, most innovative solutions.
But most of all, we want to thank our employees, without whom this success would not be possible.”
The new LYOCOM 2018 software
HOF now uses the new LYOCOM 2018 control system as a successor for the LYOCOM III Pro software. Clearly improved diagnostic options and a standardised process overview are the crucial convincing points.
LYOCOM 2018 is based on Siemens TIA Professional 15.1. In contrast to the LYOCOM III system, all system components (freeze drying plant, vial transfer system and visualisation) are integrated in one project, so that the customer only has to manage one software version for the HOF Package Unit.
LYOCOM 2018 is a software for all freeze drying systems in combination with the loading and unloading systems and includes extensive features. The system features easy, intuitive operation, compared with a user-friendly and visually appealing user interface.
LYOCOM 2018 has the following distinguishing features:
- Use of Siemens F-CPU 15xx
- Uniform look and feel for operation of GT and VTS
- Development of a dedicated HOF library as per GAMP 5. Safety through the implemented TIA portal version check and tested module documentation of standard modules
- Fine-grained display of operating equipment down to the basic function level
- Extended service information from display of switching cycles of the operating equipment and optional batch-based performance recording
- Minimising of qualification work by using uniform screens, standardised program modules and a uniform text basis. Only the correct connection to the periphery has to be checked. Visualisation, error message generation, etc. are standardised and no longer require checking
- Extended system diagnosis. Siemens ProDiag was integrated for this purpose. This now makes it possible to display control sequences and interlocks on the visualisation directly from the PLC program, to immediately initiate diagnostics in case of process errors. The control of the door safety was integrated into the GT on an F control, also in the framework of better diagnostic options. Additionally, the Siemens hardware diagnostics are visualised and a torque path of the axes can be recorded for the servo drives during the diagnosis. All system components which are actuated from the control are also visualised and, with the appropriate authorisation, can also be actuated directly or locked, e.g. for service work
- Redundancy in communication by establishing an MRP ring already in the basic version
- The HOF FVP software is used for recipe management and batch logging. This ensures consistency of the recipes, from laboratory applications to the production lines
- Vertical and horizontal data interfaces are executed via Ethernet, allowing flexible interfaces to be mapped. The LYOCOM 2018 system offers interfaces to higher-level systems, e.g. MES and Data Historian. Here, the link to its higher-level system can be implemented individually with an interface to the PU
- Use of a new touch panel with new keyboard for sterile rooms
- Improved parameter mapping of the VTS with display of all parameters on one screen
- Automatic setting of IPC samples using a robot
“We are pleased that we have already been able to successfully integrate the new system into several new plants.”
Patrick Schuhmacher (Head of Software Engineering)