Technical expert with passion

How my work as an engineer at Roche helps to fight AIDS: Ronald Hofstadt created a platform with the TecLab in Mannheim and gave his employees the freedom to help design a small card which enables samples from patients living with HIV to reach laboratories in developing countries from remote areas without refrigeration.

My name is Ronald Hofstadt and I manage the Manufacturing Automation unit at Roche in Mannheim. Our main question: How can we convert manual production into automated production?

Our Work, projects and initiatives

Our focus is on solutions that cannot be bought off the peg. For us it is about the initial development of an automation process. Our approach: Simultaneous Engineering. On the one hand, we fall back on a functional model, a kind of table model, at a very early stage to prove the feasibility of the most complex processes. We also carry out feasibility studies. On the other hand, our team is already building machines in parallel - this saves us time, resources and money. Furthermore, it is our task to evaluate the digital transformation. In doing so, we look at what happens to data and what impact new technologies will have on products in the future. 

We are currently working on a device from Roche that digitises human tissue samples and is the market leader in its field. The supply of tissue samples is regulated to the number of six, which brings my department into play. Together we have developed a loading system that guarantees the autonomous operation of the device throughout the day. In large laboratories, no operator is therefore required to load the machine. This innovation has significantly increased our customer satisfaction, which in the long run will also support our sales department.

Technical expert with passion

I have always been challenged, but also extremely encouraged and challenged in my personal development.

Our impact

One of the most important experiences I had at Roche was to be part of the development and design of a small Card. This paves the way for improved access to diagnostics in regions most affected by HIV. With the cobasⓇ Plasma Separation Card, we can use it to monitor HIV viral loads, especially in crisis regions like Africa. By providing a small amount of a patient’s blood from a fingertip, this specially designed card simplifies blood collection and sample transportation.

The place to Work

Every value-added innovation we deliver is the product of close cooperation with the business units that approach us. We always see ourselves as part of the overall package. Thanks to our network and the High-Tech Campus Mannheim, we have so much expertise that we sometimes create almost impossible things.

At the same time it has always been very important to me to be seen as a human being. Looking back today, this has helped me a lot. In the past, I was purely technologically oriented until I was given the opportunity to take on a management position. In this role, which was new for me, I was able to take over the leadership of a team and thus help other people to develop themselves.

Our culture

I enjoy working for Roche and have been with the company for almost 30 years. I can make things happen here - and always with a focus on patients. I'm particularly excited about the vision of personalised healthcare: every person and every disease is unique, and we want to create a knowledge base so that all patients receive exactly the treatment they need.

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Tags: Germany, We are Roche, Engineering, Career Blog