Inside View

Zofingen: Principles of Production Course

From left: Franz Moser, Erol Yilmaz, Maria Rotmann, Adrian Stalder, Thomas Bergenthal, Eren Halis

As a trained cabinet maker, Adrian Stalder often worked in buildings used by Roche and was fascinated by the working environment there. Since it is very difficult to work in the chemical field without training, he immediately applied when he saw Siegfried’s advertisement. Franz Moser worked in Basel for Ciba Specialty Chemicals Inc. in textile-dye production. Despite his prior knowledge, he gained a vast amount of new skills as the requirements made by GMP production are entirely different. He enjoys being back in the chemical industry, and shift work appeals to him.

Owing to the very good utilization of production ­capacity currently experienced in Zofingen, the need for qualified chemical technicians is growing. Con­sequently, a course on basic principles of production was initiated with the aim to enable people from other occupations to work at Siegfried in production.

Siegfried offers suitable candidates the possibility to train as chemical technicians, regardless of their former job or occupation. The primary aim is to put course ­participants in a position to safely work in operations. As the safety of everybody involved is paramount, every participant must internalize the applicable rules and regulations as well as the technical aspects of machines and the know-how to operate the different types of equipment.

The first course started in December 2017. As the course instructor, Hansruedi Plüss, fell ill at short notice, the participants started on their training course in reverse order with a two-month internship in operations where they obtained a first impression of their future activity. The subsequent four weeks consisted of training in the following subject areas: 

  • Heating and cooling 
  • Reaction apparatuses
  • Waste, waste water & air 
  • Conveying liquids 
  • Distillation/rectification
  • Centrifuging 
  • Filtering & drying


The first four weeks were structured by means of detailed daily schedules. The focus was on a varied training program consisting of theory and practice. This part of the course serves as a basis for participants to join the familiarization program in operations, which is a ­requirement for each new chemical technician. Upon completion, they will be familiar with basic operations and will subsequently be trained specifically to operate the equipment in production; this part of the training is handled by the individual facilities. 

After two weeks, Hansruedi Plüss held individual meetings with the participants, during which personal progress was discussed and feedback given. All of the responses were very positive, every participant considered the course to be a great opportunity. 

Plant cleaning as a learning experience 
During the training weeks, the six future chemical technicians trained practical applications in Building 320, where official production is usually carried out. Following extensive use of the plant, the facility had to be cleaned and made available for normal production. ­Final cleaning procedures followed the usual pattern: samples were taken, laboratory analyses made and, in case of positive results, the cleaning process was completed. To ensure that procedures were well understood by each participant, the group was called together ­regularly to receive information concerning individual steps, jointly work out solutions and complete the cleaning protocol. 

A view into the future
It has not yet been decided whether a second Principles of Production course will be carried out. The decision depends mainly on product demand and the connected plant utilization and, of course, on whether the recently trained chemical technicians will prove themselves in their new working environment. Implementation of such courses is not new at Siegfried; similar courses have been carried out from 1998 to 2003 when there was a shortage of chemical technicians. The training course lasted six weeks and was so successful that some of the participants still work at Siegfried today.