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Improving and saving lives – in a nutshell, this is just what the high-tech company Hamilton does, and not only during a pandemic. Ventilators, lab robots, sensors for vaccine production and other life science solutions are developed and manufactured in Bonaduz and Ems. Find out why Hamilton employees find such fulfilment in their work.
With heart and soul
For the Bonaduz-based company, the maxim “We drive innovation to improve people’s lives” is embedded in its DNA: it develops products that not just improve, but also save lives. Every fifth ventilator worldwide, two thirds of all automated PCR tests and large numbers of sensors for global vaccine research and production come from Hamilton. No wonder, then, that the 1,700 employees of this innovation hub are proud to work for the company, and love nothing better than working on new products year after year. Steve Hamilton, whose father was the company’s founder, set the example many years ago when he launched the first intelligent ventilator after a conversation with a NASA researcher. The development took over 20 years until the first model was introduced in 1984.
The work involved in developing a magnetically driven pipetting robot also lasted a good while, with half a decade elapsing between the initial idea and the finished product. An investment that paid dividends, says mechanical engineer Jonas Hilti. “I’ve been at Hamilton for seven years now. I spent six of them working exclusively on this project and put all my heart and soul, not to mention my knowledge, into its development. The result is an innovation for humanity. And this makes me extremely proud.”
The Gyro Gearloose of Bonaduz
The Hamilton spirit is reflected in the continuous development of high-tech innovations. Some 30 to 50 patents are registered each year, among them the invention by Jonas and his colleagues. It all started with an experiment: “We tried out something new, and were suddenly able to pipette tiny droplets. Then we set about exploring the mechanism behind this.” Jonas and his interdisciplinary team kept on tinkering until the magnetic pipette was born. Thanks to its magnetic drive, it can speed up processes in a way that enables laboratories to process more samples – blood, for example – in less time. Jonas is clear on one thing: “In addition to expertise and drive, team spirit is essential for reaching your goals.” Freedom to contribute ideas and implement them effectively releases so much creativity in him that his inventive spirit knows no bounds. “Sometimes I come up with an idea when I’m lying in a sun lounger on holiday, or taking a shower, and we set about experimenting with it together as a team.”
Learning new things every day
“We promote lifelong learning throughout the company”, says Dr Gianina Viglino-Caviezel, Director HR & Sustainability. Individual options for training and development, e-learning platforms and the Hamilton career-changer programme help employees, whether in production or office-based, to achieve growth in both their professional and personal lives – and find fulfilment in their work. “We want our employees to be happy. A healthy work-life balance is essential in this regard”, Gianina emphasises. Balancing the professional and private sides of our lives is more challenging than it sounds, but agile structures, family-friendly part-time work and individual measures for staff development definitely help.
(Green) actions speak louder than words
From environmental protection to working conditions, Hamilton is dedicated to achieving sustainability all round. “We make a key contribution with products that help to maintain and improve people’s health”, Gianina explains. Production materials and processes are also being optimised on a continuous basis. Energy consumption has already been reduced by 25%, for example, thanks to solar panels, heating and cooling systems using groundwater and other optimisation measures.
But new concepts must be relatable if they are to take root in people’s minds. The new staff restaurant is one of the places that makes this possible: “Not just because it’s the meeting place of the whole company, but also because food is one of the big environmental offenders due to the high carbon emissions”, Gianina says. The suitably named Green Sense cafeteria has been carefully designed in a climate-friendly approach, from the energy consumption to the menu – and is also a very pleasant place to be. An indoor vertical garden transforms the light-flooded space into a green oasis that not only invites people to eat and meet, but also offers comfortable locations for working with others on ideas in peace and quiet. “With this approach, sustainability is becoming more and more established in our thinking and actions in all areas”, she continues.
No question then, that the Hamilton workforce will go on to develop more great visions and realise even greater projects in the future. And when will you be joining the fold?