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    HOF Sonderanlagenbau GmbH

    HOF Sonderanlagenbau GmbH is a German family-owned company that has become one of the world’s most respected names for high quality just in time freeze drying (lyophilization) solutions, with more than three decades of experience.

    Sonderanlagenbau is German for ‘special equipment manufacture’ and in this case, refers to lab scale, pilot scale and production scale freeze drying solutions, loading and unloading systems, and freeze-thaw units for the pharmaceutical, biotech and life science industries.

    Under its motto of “Just in time quality for demanding customers” HOF Sonderanlagenbau does not offer off-the-shelf products but has instead constructed a fully integrated total design and build environment in which every machine is unique, exactly specified in partnership with customer and manufactured to meet very specific requirements.

    Products and services

    HOF Sonderanlagenbau products and services are organized into three principal streams:


    HOF Freeze drying systems are precisely tailored to individual application and production requirements.

    Laboratory systems built for research or product & process development guarantee perfect transfer and scale-up to production systems.

    Freeze dryer solutions are offered in a very wide range of sizes, designs and configurations, ranging from small (approx. 1m2) to large (75m2) systems that can be designed and constructed according to our customers’ requirements, along with cleaning and sterilization facilities that can be based on different types of refrigeration and vacuum systems.

    Lyophilization solutions include HOF software that makes process operation more user-friendly, with overview of all functions and visualisation system for creating product-specific temperature profiles, system visualisations and load-oriented documentation. Optional remote monitoring adds further security to the production process.

    Rounding out the Lyophilization offer, HOF Bulk systems provide a comprehensive range of system designs and options to accept dishes, vials, trays, etc., along with loading and unloading systems that are 100% reliable for the safe, optimal and integrated transport of pharmaceutical products and primary packaging.


    HOF freeze-thaw units emphasize high freezing speed and full process control capabilities to ensure all contents are evenly and completely frozen, irrespective of bag size. Units include machine-readable barcode facilities and full documentation support. HOF freezing units use indirect cooling and consume no power when idle for maximum energy efficiency, with large doors for easy load/unload. Freeze-thaw solutions can be optimised to pharmaceutical, biotechnology or medical applications like blood donation optimized units that freeze quickly (within 45 minutes) and can incorporate “Freeze Viewer” software for documentation, also useful on biotechnology oriented devices are designed for the controlled freezing and thawing of product bags with filling volumes of between 4 and 12 litres in accordance with precisely specified temperature profiles.


    The HOF service offering includes Qualification, Process development, Design and concept studies, Maintenance and Training.

    A very comprehensive Maintenance service, combined with 24/7 on call Service, that both extend worldwide, ensure that only HOF trained and qualified experts need to work on HOF systems.

    The service portfolio is constructed to allow a team of HOF experts, trained as engineers, scientists, technicians, service fitters and skilled workers, to accompany the customer as partners at every stage of the relationship from initial specification and design through to upgrading and renewal. The Service team, too, remains in close contact with clients and provides support for system users.


    HOF systems are designed and engineered to be future-proof, high-performance and practice-oriented. The company is renowned for creating solutions that are individually developed to satisfy customer requirements using advanced design and the latest technologies. These include recipe-controlled automatic shelf adjustment, process analytical technology (PAT) sensor systems, comparative pressure measurement and the SynchroFreeze® method for controlled nucleation.

    HOF SynchroFreeze® describes a development of HOF for controlled nucleation. The aim of this equipment option is to provide the user with an innovative tool to increase the quality of the pharmaceutical product and simultaneously ensures an efficient operation of the freeze-drying systems.

    HOF also holds numerous other patents covering mechanical details and engineering specifics.

    However, HOF’s design philosophy doesn’t primarily rely on technology to shape the product: rather on product properties and function to determine the technology. It emphasizes ultra-modern and technologically advanced production facilities and design systems to enable it to provide customers with the best possible solutions.

    History and organization

    HOF Sonderanlagenbau was founded on October 1, 1988, originally as Schäfer & Hof Vakuum- und Kältetechnik Sonderanlagenbau GmbH. Then, as now, the company was based in the small town of Lohra, near Marburg, north of Frankfurt in the state of Hesse. The original building purchased in Ludwig-Rinn-Strasse still serves as the company’s main offices.

    In 1993, following a change in ownership structure, the company was renamed HOF Vakuum-und Kältetechnik Sonderanlagenbau GmbH (HOF Vacuum and Refrigeration Technology Special Equipment Construction).

    The company continued to grow and expand its customer segments over the following years and in 2007 added a second site in nearby Gladenbach-Mornshausen to provided an additional 5700m2 of manufacturing space and offices.

    In 2013, the expanding loading/unloading systems segment became a business division in its own right.

    Continuous development of sites and teams has resulted in a company with 13.500m2 of facilities and some 270 employees.

    All HOF activities are managed from Lohra with service staff directly dispatched to customers worldwide. The company has been owner managed since foundation and is currently led by founding Managing Director Hans-Georg Hof, and wife Gerlinde Hof (Commercial Director), assisted by son Dr. Alexander Hof (Management).

    In 2017, HOF was named for the second year running among the “TOP 100” of Innovative Companies in Germany, selected from a total entry of more than 4,000 candidates.

    Quality, Regulatory and Standards

    All HOF Sonderanlagenbau processes are certified according to DIN EN ISO 9001, with every aspect of project handled to be GxP compliant.

    HOF’s own quality assurance (QA) department control all incoming goods and materials, as well as self-manufactured equipment. A designated Quality Management Officer is qualified person for all certified quality processes while the company’s internal Quality Handbook regulates all assigned processes.

    When it comes to customer installations, all essential components like LYO shelves, electrical cabinets, vacuum and cooling skids, piping systems, etc. are built and tested at HOF’s manufacturing facilities according to individual site set-up conditions and fully tested concerning functionality and performance, before being shipped.

    HOF Sonderanlagenbau is also fully committed to sustainability, for example using renewable energies for heating (straw pellets) at one of its sites, with photovoltaic panels installed at all facilities.

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