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:

Sigraph announcement:

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The CAE system EPLAN 5, used to create circuit diagrams between 2004 and 2016, has been replaced by the EPLAN P8 system.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

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)

Modern remote service solution from HOF

Due to a restriction from the supplier, HOF cannot ensure support for the connection to software used over analogue remote service modems for Windows 7 beyond 14/01/2020.

We regret that we consequently have to terminate our support commitment at this time. HOF is very aware, however, of the responsibility regarding this important issue. A reliable, modern remote service solution requires extensive specialised knowledge.

“We can provide you with an individually tailored remote service solution for your system. We would be pleased to provide you with a quotation.”

Patrick Schuhmacher (Head of Software Engineering)

(+49 6462 9169-358 /

3,800 km for a good cause – a very special report

After intensive reflection, the management came up with a very special idea for Christmas 2018. Instead of Christmas gifts for customers, they decided to pack parcels with essential food and hygiene products for people in need in Eastern Europe. Diana Hof-Schneider got into contact with the Johanniter charity, and after a few phone calls HOF was able to join the Johanniter Christmas Truckers. Johanniter have been organising aid transports to the poorest countries in Europe for 25 years.

Common ground was soon found after consulting local food retailers. The Kessler family, who run the REWE supermarket in Gladenbach, immediately offered to cooperate and supplied the required relief goods directly to the HOF premises in Mornshausen.

The parcels were filled and wrapped up in three days, by employees as well as fire fighters and the Lohra Business Forum – around 200 people overall. In the end, there were 1200 parcels with essential food products and personal hygiene items, including flour, sugar, pasta, oil and toothpaste. Lovely Christmas cards made by local nursery school children gave the parcels a personal touch.


An unforgettable adventure begins

Viele Hände helfen bei HOF
Spaß hatten Sie auch
So viele lachende Gesichter
auch die ganz kleinen freuten sich

Things started rolling on Christmas Day. The two Christmas Truckers from HOF, Alex Wagner and Alex Winter, were taken to Landshut, where the journey to Bosnia with around 20 tons of relief goods on board began at 6 am on December 26.
We were able to park our trucks on the premises of the THW [German Federal Agency for Technical Relief] in Landshut so we could start bright and early from there with the maximum driving time. First, we were joined by two more trucks that had been parked there and drove to the Grieserwiese area. Here, the convoys were assembled and supplied with food and drink to last us for a week. We introduced ourselves and were received like old friends. Then the 47 trucks drove through the mediaeval centre of Landshut, where we received a send-off with a church service and various speeches, including by German-Romanian musician Peter Maffay.
Thousands of people lined the streets and waved us off. The THW had blocked all the roads so we had unhindered access to the motorway – the atmosphere gave us all goosebumps. At the border between Germany and Austria, the convoy split off towards their destinations: Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Albania and Bosnia. Our destination on the first day was Croatia, where we arrived around 9:30 pm after a 16-hour day. The next morning, we continued to the Bosnian border, where we stopped for the whole day and kept the local customs authorities busy with our relief goods.
Later that afternoon, we were able to continue the journey to Bosnia. Our destination was Tuzla in the east of Bosnia, close to the Serbian border. After a long search with our six trucks, we were warmly received at the local university and invited to dinner.

The next morning, we split up to distribute the Christmas parcels in five different locations: four schools and nurseries along the Serbian border and a women’s shelter with numerous children. Getting to the nurseries or schools was not always easy, as the mountain paths were often overgrown and had to be cleared with a chainsaw. Many hands helped us with unloading. People were overjoyed to receive the parcels, as they provided them with essential items for themselves and their families, even if only for a short while.
After another night in Tuzla, we unloaded two more trucks on the following day before setting out for Banja Luka. We drove 200 kilometres across the mountains on roads that reminded us of East Germany before the reunification.
Once we arrived in Banja Luka, the last two trucks were unloaded and we started our journey home.
Our convoy stayed together until we reached the Obere Tauernalm services in Austria, where we said goodbye after a lovely dinner together – some of the trucks had to go in a different direction from there. For us, the day ended at 1:30 am at the Chiemsee lake, where we were warmly received at the Schalchen Hof Hotel with a little late-night snack. The next day was New Year’s Eve, and after a generous breakfast we started on the last leg of our journey. Our Bosnia adventure finally came to an end at 6:30 pm on New Year’s Eve, and were happy to be reunited with our families.
We can say that this aid campaign by HOF was a great success all around. We saw that our parcels actually arrived where they were meant to go – to the poor, children and others in need. When you see how a small bar of chocolate or a colouring book can put a smile on a child’s face – which we did – then we think that is proof that our company did exactly the right thing.

Alexander Wagner & Alexander Winter

Relying of knowledge and experience – 30 years HOF

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

on October 1, 1988, the company “Schäfer & Hof Vakuum und Kältetechnik Sonderanlagenbau GmbH” was founded in a former cigar factory in Lohra, city in the central Hessen.

This is not necessarily a jubilee in the classic sense of the term, but it is a remarkable milestone in our company history, of which we can be very proud.

Always think ahead ... that is the maxim that always drives HOF forward to always technologically “think outside the box” – always looking the best solution for its customers.

HOF now looks back on more than 30 years of company history.
Since its founding in 1988, HOF has continuously developed into a globally operating and innovative company in the manufacturing of individual freeze-drying plants, loading & unloading systems and freezing and thawing equipment.

Step by step and always focusing on the essentials, the company has positioned itself as a market-oriented company, and has been for more three decades now the leading specialist for individual solutions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnological industry, with more than 270 employees within the HOF group.

We sincerely thank you for 30 years HOF Sonderanlagenbau GmbH and would like to thank all business partners who have accompanied us on this way for the good and successful cooperation.

Special thanks go to our customers for their trust and longstanding loyalty, and above all to our employees for their engagement and work, without them, we could not share our success. Therefore we are proud and grateful for the work they do each day.

We look forward to what is still to come and to the next years with you.

Yours sincerely
The HOF family

"Detailed information about our company anniversary can be found in our latest issue of HOFinsight."
Dr. Alexander Hof (management)

More about that here…

HOF company history 1988 – 2018

Sometimes things don’t turn out as planned

According to the original idea, HOF (or Schäfer & Hof – Vakuum und Kältetechnik Sonderanlagenbau GmbH, as it was when it was founded in 1988) was to become a nationally active service company, offering and providing services in the form of maintenance and modifications for existing freeze-drying plants.

However, this service company never existed in this form, because when the company was founded the order for the construction of a new freeze-drying plant was placed directly. So, from day one, the business model was based in the mechanical engineering sector, and it was always clear that service in any form would have to play a key role.


A strong team, the right knack and the necessary amount of luck meant that the available space had already been used up in the business’ second year and a large assembly building was erected. Since then, the company premises have been expanded in several stages to create a total building area of 13,500 m² at three sites.

Challenges: our driving force

HOF’s development has been constantly accompanied by the growing demands of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. At the same time, it was always our customers’ challenges that served as the driving force for innovations and further developments. In addition to solutions in the field of freeze-drying technology, pioneering HOF products such as freezing and thawing equipment for blood plasma in blood donation centres, effective systems for loading and unloading freeze-drying plants, freeze-thaw units for tempering pharmaceutical and biotechnological products and, most recently, thawing and cutting devices for bottled plasma were developed.

Our philosophy

With the basic philosophy of offering and delivering “on-time quality for discerning customers”, after a 30-year company history HOF is today the leading specialist for individual solutions. This much is underlined by the innovation and management awards that HOF has received in recent years.

Letting knowledge grow

In keeping with this doctrine, HOF attaches a great deal of importance to training specialists and has been a training company for over 25 years. In addition to offering the classic skilled occupations in the commercial and industrial segments, HOF has been a university partner for the Dual Study integrated degree programme and other degrees for many years.
In-depth specialist knowledge, many years of experience and a high degree of flexibility, coupled with short decision-making paths and the spontaneity of a medium-sized, owner-managed family-run business, have made HOF strong – not only in the field of plant engineering, but also in the all-important area of service. This has been just as important as plant engineering since the company was founded, and, like the company, has been steadily expanded over the years.

Today, HOF manages more than 2,000 plants – both its own and ones from third-party manufacturers – at international level. With knowledge and experience, crucial quality and the familiar flexibility we’re known for, HOF will remain a stable partner in the future as a specialist for individual solutions.

More about that here…

Hans-Georg Hof takes a look back

It all started in what was formerly a cigar factory

At that time, we spent a long time humming and hawing over whether acquiring such a large building would be worthwhile. I never thought that we’d have to contend with our first extension in the second financial year due to a lack of space – let alone today’s dimensions.

Where 260 employees work today, in the early days I was a salesman, planner, electrician, locksmith, commissioning engineer, service fitter and manager all rolled into one. Although nowadays I primarily deal with strategic matters, I don’t let myself miss out on my daily walk through the workshop or tinkering around in one way or another.

The foundation of HOF Prüfsysteme GmbH
We founded HOF Prüfsysteme GmbH on 1 April 2004 through private connections and the roots of my professional career in the freeze-drying technology sector. In this company, we primarily serve the automotive industry with our leak testing systems. As a corporate group, we have been working hand-in-hand ever since and complement one another with both limited companies.

Successful attendance at trade fairs
We have been an integral part of ACHEMA in Frankfurt since 1994. Although my feet usually hurt on the first evening of the trade fair, we can always look back on a very successful attendance. What I’ve always liked – and still do like – most about this is the contact with our existing customers and the related opportunity to exchange ideas in both a business and a private context.

Sustainability and treating nature with respect are particularly important to me as an amateur farmer
Straw – the by-product created during cereal growing – can be put to more sensible use than being left chopped in the field. It took several years to get from the initial idea to the actual implementation process, but since 2013 we’ve been able to heat our Mornshausen site completely with straw.
The fact that the complete value creation chain – from cereal growing and pelleting the straw, to using the pellets in the heating system – comes entirely from a single source was a one-of-a-kind pilot project in Germany and therefore a milestone that makes me puff up with a certain feeling of pride.

A heavenly gift
On our company’s 25th anniversary, we held a large family day in addition to our first HOF Specialist Forum. During the festivities, the staff surprised my wife and I with a balloon ride, which we took a short time later.
The fact that we were able to maintain our team integrity and personal connection to one another – even after 25 years – and were thanked with such a beautiful experience truly was and is a special gift.

Always a highlight
Whether it’s a 0.5 m² laboratory plant, a 40 m² production plant, a compact FTU or a delicate loading and unloading system – integrating our solutions into our customers’ buildings is always a very special event every single time and has required us to come up with lots of extraordinary ideas in the past.
It’s all about overcoming challenges, particularly in existing buildings with specified access routes – and a task which I personally always really enjoy and am happy to take on.

More about that here…

Auf Wissen und Erfahrungen Vertrauen – 30 Jahre HOF

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

am 1. Oktober 1988 wurde die damalige Schäfer & Hof Vakuum und Kältetechnik Sonderanlagenbau GmbH in einer ehemaligen Zigarrenfabrik im mittelhessischen Lohra gegründet. Das ist nicht unbedingt ein Jubiläum im klassischen Sinne, aber dennoch ein markanter Meilenstein unserer Firmengeschichte, auf den wir sehr stolz sind.

Immer ein Stück weiter denken … das ist die Maxime, die HOF immer wieder dazu antreibt, technologisch „über den Tellerrand“ zu schauen – immer auf der Suche nach der besten Lösung für ihre Kundinnen und Kunden.

Auf über 30 Jahre Unternehmensgeschichte blickt HOF mittlerweile zurück. Seit der Gründung im Jahr 1988 entwickelte sich HOF kontinuierlich weiter – zu einem weltweit agierenden und innovativen Unternehmen in der Herstellung von individuellen Gefriertrocknungsanlagen, Be- und Entladesystemen sowie Einfrier-und Auftaugeräten.

Step by Step und immer mit dem Blick für das Wesentliche wurde das Unternehmen marktorientiert aufgestellt und ist nun seit über drei Jahrzehnten, mit mehr als 270 Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeitern in der HOF Unternehmensgruppe, der führende Spezialist für individuelle Lösungen in der pharmazeutischen und biotechnologischen Industrie.

Wir sagen herzlichst Dankeschön für 30 Jahre HOF Sonderanlagenbau GmbH und möchten uns bei allen Geschäftspartnern, die uns auf diesem Weg begleitet haben, für die gute und erfolgreiche Zusammenarbeit bedanken.

Besonderen Dank gilt unseren Kunden für Ihr Vertrauen und Ihre langjährige Treue und vor Allem auch unseren Mitarbeitern für ihr Engagement und ihre Arbeit, ohne sie könnten wir auch unseren Erfolg nicht teilen und daher sind wir stolz und dankbar, was sie jeden Tag leisten.

Wir freuen uns auf das was noch kommt und auf die nächsten Jahre mit Ihnen.

Herzlichst Ihre Familie Hof

„Ausführliche Informationen zu unserem Firmenjubiläum finden Sie in unserer neusten Ausgabe HOFinsight.“
Dr. Alexander Hof (General Management)

Mehr dazu hier

HOF Firmenchronik 1988 – 2018

Manchmal kommt es anders als geplant

Laut der ursprünglichen Idee sollte HOF, beziehungsweise die 1988 gegründete Schäfer & Hof – Vakuum und Kältetechnik Sonderanlagenbau GmbH, ein national agierendes Service-Unternehmen werden, das Dienstleistungen in Form von Wartungen und Modifizierungen für bestehende Gefriertrocknungsanlagen anbietet und durchführt.

Dieses Dienstleistungsunternehmen hat es in dieser Form jedoch nie gegeben, denn mit Firmengründung wurde direkt der Auftrag für den Bau einer neuen Gefriertrocknungsanlage platziert. Das Geschäftsmodell war damit vom ersten Tag an im Bereich Maschinenbau angesiedelt, wobei immer klar war, dass Service in jeglicher Form eine entscheidende Rolle spielen muss.

Mit einer leistungsstarken Mannschaft, dem richtigen Händchen und dem nötigen Quantum Glück war bereits im zweiten Geschäftsjahr der verfügbare Platz erschöpft und eine große Montagehalle wurde errichtet. Seitdem hat sich das Firmenareal in mehreren Ausbauschritten auf eine Gebäudefläche von insgesamt 13.500 m² an drei Standorten ausgedehnt.

Herausforderungen als Triebfeder

Die Entwicklung von HOF ist stetig mit den wachsenden Anforderungen der pharmazeutischen und biotechnologischen Industriezweige einhergegangen. Gleichzeitig waren es auch immer wieder die Herausforderungen unserer Kundinnen und Kunden, die als Antriebskraft für Neuerungen und Weiterentwicklungen dienten. So entstanden neben den Lösungen im Bereich der Gefriertrocknungstechnik wegweisende HOF-Produkte wie beispielsweise die Einfrier- und Auftaugeräte für Blutplasma im Bereich der Blutspendezentren, effektive Systeme für die Be- und Entladung von Gefriertrocknungsanlagen, Freeze-Thaw-Units für das Temperieren von pharmazeutischen und biotechnologischen Produkten und jüngst Antau- und Aufschneidevorrichtungen für Plasma in Flaschen.

Unsere Philosophie

Mit der grundlegenden Philosophie, „termingerechte Qualität für anspruchsvolle Kunden“ anzubieten und zu liefern, ist HOF nach 30 Jahren Firmengeschichte heute der führende Spezialist für individuelle Lösungen. Unterstrichen wird dies durch Auszeichnungen für Innovationen und Management, die HOF in den vergangenen Jahren erhalten hat.

Wissen wachsen lassen

Entsprechend diesem Credo legt HOF viel Wert auf die Ausbildung von Fachpersonal und ist seit über 25 Jahren Ausbildungsbetrieb. Neben den klassischen Ausbildungsberufen im kaufmännischen und industriellen Bereich ist HOF seit vielen Jahren Hochschulpartner für das Duale Studium und weitere Abschlüsse.
Fundiertes Fachwissen, langjährige Erfahrung und ein hohes Maß an Flexibilität, gepaart mit kurzen Entscheidungswegen und der Spontanität eines mittelständischen und inhabergeführten Familienunternehmens haben HOF nicht nur im Bereich des Anlagenbaus, sondern auch im groß geschriebenen Service stark gemacht. Dieser nimmt seit Firmengründung einen dem Anlagenbau gleichwertigen Stellenwert ein und ist wie das Unternehmen über die Jahre hinweg stetig ausgebaut worden.

Heute betreut HOF mehr als 2.000 Anlagen auf internationaler Ebene, welche sich aus eigenen Anlagen und Fremdfabrikaten zusammensetzen. Mit Wissen und Erfahrung, entscheidender Qualität sowie der bekannten und gewohnten Flexibilität wird HOF auch in Zukunft stabiler Partner als Spezialist für individuelle Lösungen bleiben.

Mehr dazu hier.

Any questions?