The pioneering spirit of Rychiger AG
We invite you to join us on a journey through time – 100 years of Rychiger AG history. You will feel the company’s pioneering spirit – it is everywhere.
Join us as we take you through our success story – which was only possible thanks to the courage to embrace new things, the vision to improve and the energy to persevere through to perfection. But it was also made possible by the customers who have placed their trust in us and by our employees who have supported us with their motivation and dedication.
The years before the company was founded
It was Rudolf Rychiger who laid the foundations for the company as we know it today. He has a fascinating biography. Trained as a mechanic at the federal design workshop K+W in Thun. Travelling years at Loki Winterthur and in Geneva Military training and return to K+W, with rapid promotion to master technician due to his ideas and specialised skills.
Background: Steam engine with an output of approx. 0.5 hp, built by Rudolf in his free time.
- Rudolf builds devices and prototypes of automatic weapons.
- Children: Lina 1908, and Hans 1911
- First World War 1914-1918 – Rudolf’s father is called up to do military service.
Flu epidemic in 1918 killing more than 20,000
- National strike as a result of social unrest. Rudolf Rychiger takes the side of the workers and is labelled a “red troublemaker and a communist” by his employer – he does not accept this, so he leaves right away to establish his own company.
Foundation of the company
Rudolf Rychiger starts out at the company’s present-day site offering bicycle and automobile repairs, both outdoors and in a small residential annex – without electric power.
A workshop is built to meet the demand for space and electricity.
A motor powers three lathes, three drilling machines, two milling machines and one planing machine via a belt drive.
The first employees
The company sign announces clearly: development and engineering work is carried out here.
1929 – gun barrel sections
1931 – Rudolf’s former employer gives the “red trouble-maker” some sensitive assignments.
- The petrol station at the car repair garage
- Rudolf’s own Fiat
- Machine to manufacture building blocks
- Four potter’s wheels, one drive with individually adjustable rotation speed (without servo motors)
- The first engineering accomplishments: tipper bodies for lorries
- Hans (A), Lina (B) and Anna (C) in front of the family’s house, which now has electric power.
- In spite of many ups and downs, business goes well and the gap between the family home and the workshop can now be closed with a new plant building. First user: Swiss Army.
The Second World War
Staff are called up to do military service, so there is a lack of employees to complete all the incoming orders – especially for the army.
Son Hans gets involved, but he also has to go to military school and join the army in 1941.
The workshop is kept very busy as a supplier to K+W: material samples from gun barrels and draw tools for their manufacture are “USPs”, but development work is also done to meet civilian needs.
Background: driving ban during the war. So: jack up the car, hand in the number.
- Further developed potter’s wheel
- Block saw for granite slabs for Tschaggeny Construc-tion Works, Thun
- Hydraulic press used by the company to align shafts and for pressure grouting.
- As you would expect, the new factory regulations contain lots of progressive ideas.
After the war
There are no longer any orders coming in from the army. Smaller and larger-scale custom machines are built, and repair work is done for regional companies (Gerber Cheese, Stucki textile factory, etc.).
Swiss Army buys jeeps and dodges which require new selector shafts and a gearbox overhaul. Rychiger also meets the demand for replacement parts in civilian vehicles.
Custom machines require more design engineering work – sketches are required.
- Coiling machine to make cardboard tubes for biscuits
30 years of Rudolf Rychiger, mechanical workshop
10 employees, including four apprentices
Start of packaging machine construction
- Reel machine for round or semi-circular processed cheese boxes
With paper strips and tear-off tab: up to 80 boxes are reeled off per minute in this way
More than 50 machines leave the Rychiger workshop, initially for Gerber Cheese in Thun, later for many other producers.
- Sorting machine 1448
- Packaging machine for three triangular processed cheese portions in triangular cardboard boxes
A change of generations
Son Hans takes over and introduces a new company spirit. While the struggle for survival during the founding years called for a tough pioneering approach, Rudolf’s son Hans is able to use past accomplishments as a basis for a visionary mindset geared towards future developments, while still remaining firmly grounded in reality.
Although he did not have the opportunity to travel and experience other working environments like his father, he makes up for this by acquiring comprehensive technological expertise from books. His cosmopolitan attitude and involvement outside the company have a lasting impact on the company’s spirit and reputation.
Products are developed at a fast rate focusing mainly on a few specialised, complex machines, thereby reflecting his positive approach.
Customer support and repairs are not neglected of course.
40 years of Hans Rychiger, mechanical workshop
15 employees, including four apprentices
- Rudolf with his son and grandsons:
from left: Hans, Franz Reichenbach, Peter as a recruit, Rudolf, Ruedi and Jacques, both of whom work in the firm for several years.
- All employees without the proprietor
Rychiger builds its first filling and sealing machines for aluminium portion packaging for Hero Jam and Maggi Soup Concentrates.
Space becomes limited in the workshop – there is not enough room to carry out assembly work.
Hero is one of the first customers for filling and sealing machines. To this day, thousands of machines have been produced with the same basic functions for the most diverse range of products, with output levels of 20 – 2000/minute, with additional functions and for widely varying packaging materials.
- Four-track filler for crêpes
- Endless envelope machine for 12,000 units/hour
- Single-track filling and sealing machine, type 1639
Video: Single-track sealing machine for Hero
Turning old into new
The workshop is too small – it is time for expansion.
A key external decision
Styner-Bienz had ordered aluminium packaging from Rychiger but now gives up this line of business: it is taken over by Jakob Inauen instead. The company Alupak is founded – by Nestlé and Alcan Rorschach, with Rychiger holding a 5% share. Hans Rychiger becomes a member of the supervisory board
The Alupak system consisting of highly durable aluminium portion packs becomes highly successful.
The powerful trio – three visionaries:
Jakob Inauen, Alupak sales and marketing
Dr. Winfried Sturm, Alcan, aluminium foils
Hans Rychiger, filling and sealing machines
Machines and tools
Background: Machine type 1639 with three fillers for dry rice, milk and fruit pulp
- 12-unit deep-draw tool for coffee cream cups
- The aluminium coffee cream boom gets underway with two 7b machines.
In addition to building machines, Rychiger continues to develop deep-draw tools for containers. The result: more than 150 tools in total.
The 1966 Alupak boom in sterilisable and peelable aluminium cups for long-lasting products such as coffee cream, meat products and others is unstoppable.
Since Hans Rychiger has to undergo heart surgery in 1969, requiring several months of convalescence, Peter immediately has to take over full responsibility.
Video: Mixing machine 1946 – 1950 – reel machine for round or semi-circular processed cheese boxes. This was when the company really started making packaging machines.
50 years of Hans Rychiger, machine works
30 employees, including five apprentices, with VW van
Peter Rychiger takes over – the third generation.
Filling and sealing machines boost sales
Further development and construction of custom machines. the Alupak system sees a boom in Yugoslavia when the Balkan War breaks out.
Background: Special machine to assemble large-scale packages at Zeiler, Bern
- Alupak in the former Yugoslavia: a key market which Rychiger is able to supply with more than 50 machines, mainly for meat products.
- Coffee cream in aluminium containers: 50 machines, 2 to 7-track, with a total capacity of approx. 250,000 containers/minute.
- The diversity is huge: filled and sealed on Rychiger machines.
More and more machines of increasing size – more space is required, so new facilities have to be built.
The first computer is purchased: Olivetti 101 with 120 programming stages and two memories. Main use: calculating cam discs
A royal visit and public attention
The Spanish royal couple inspects a Rychiger machine at Hero Alcantrilla, Spain.
Rychiger is one of the first companies in the region to buy an NC machine controlled by ticker tape, also made by Olivetti.
Another invention: round butter shapes, thanks to Rychiger
Rychiger & Alupack
After 13 years of collaboration between Rychiger and Alupak based purely on personal trust, a jointly developed cooperation contract is signed by Jakob Inauen and Hans Rychiger on a Saturday morning in November.
The following Monday, Hans and Peter Rychiger are informed at a meeting at the Nestlé HQ in Vevey that Jakob Inauen died of heart failure that very weekend.
Thanks to the contract, ongoing cooperation is taken care of until Alupak changes ownership; however, one of the visionary minds is now missing.
The new Alupak CEO lacks the comprehensive system expertise of his predecessor. For this reason, the representatives of the various countries have to be trained, which Rychiger takes care of for Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia and France. Everyone quickly realises that they are under much more pressure now.
Change from sole proprietorship to family-owned corporation. As the majority shareholder, Peter Rychiger takes over executive management and administrative board chairmanship.
Thanks to the development of membrane sealing on Rychiger machines, the tin container is now peelable – a development for and with Nestlé and Alusingen.
MHM machine turns standard can ends into peelable ends with cutting edge protection.
Advantage: The cans are sealed on standard can sealing machines with the prefabricated peelable lids.
Various cans: filled and sealed on standard can filling and sealing machines.
Video: Standard can ends are turned into peelable ends with cutting edge protection
60 years of Hans Rychiger AG, machine works
55 employees, including ten apprentices
The market region grows. Rychiger starts exhibiting its products at Interpack with Alupak in the early 1970s. Other trade fairs follow. Further expansion of activities leads to a US branch.
- Space is limited! This leads to an adaptation of working conditions and technical equipment in administration, for example.
- Hans and Peter Rychiger discuss engineering plans with plant manager Alfred Stähli.
- Dan Gorski – Gene Waterfall – Ron Beisler
The US representatives of “Circle-Designe” in Glen Rock NJ
- Swiss-Expo Singapore at Hotel Shangri-La
- Kraft in Australia puts into operation one of the first AHM 78 machines for jam filling. Other filling, seal-ing and membrane-sealing machines follow as the years go by.
The new structure is complete.
The technical office is also expanded and moves into its new premises with drawing boards and white overalls – the status symbol at the time. CAD systems are yet to come.
The pet food era begins
Rychiger supplies 30 machines, usually paid for by the rep in cash – in banknotes taken from a little suitcase.
- Halwa filling machines are a hit in all countries where Arabs and Turks are in control. This brilliant filler – developed by Hans Rychiger, of course – fills this critical and sweet product made of sesame oil and sesame seeds into 100 g aluminium containers and tin cans of up to 5 kg.
- Special fillers for garlic butter
- MHM machines are in demand due to the lids
- First steps in Asia
- Print colours even for lasagne
- Exhibition in Hong Kong
Esca is the name of the project
The project starts this year – after a sluggish start it be-comes a Rychiger high-flyer.
- Two-track machine for soup concentrates
- Two-track machine for pet food, approx. 100/minute.
- Esca becomes Nespresso: Supply of the first 6-track system to Orbe for 300/minute.
- Some two years later, an identical machine is sup-plied to Japan, including capsule production (Showa).
70 years of Hans Rychiger AG, machine works
70 employees, including 10 apprentices
- Nespresso – bigger and faster: 8-track, 400/minutes.
- Rychiger builds its first healthcare machines
- Apple purée in France: a hit!
75 years of Hans Rychiger AG, machine works
100 employees, including 10 apprentices
- Kraft launches the Kenco project in the UK.
- Rychiger supplies Kraft with two complex, 6-track systems with three sealings per tray. The picture shows the structure.
- Sealing machine for plastic bottle spouts
- Bag filling and sealing machine
Burrito folding systems
80 years of Hans Rychiger AG, machine works
100 employees, including 12 apprentices
- New applications in the area of healthcare
- Membrane lids continue to be much in demand.
Another healthcare machine and Venus by Gilette
HANS RYCHIGER AG is taken over by Spega SA, Fribourg
Peter Rychiger remains active in the company as a consultant.
- August 2001: The company is in new hands
- The new executive manager: Axel Förster
- Nespresso machines with increased performance capacity: 12-track, 700/minute
Growth beyond national borders
Establishment and registration of Rychiger North America RYNA under the direction of Marius Olszewski.
Pringles… Pringles… Pringles…
- 600 cups per minute in 3-shift operation result in an output of 800,000 per day!
- Contribution to the Nespresso “clean capsule”: 10-track tandem with an output of 1,000/minute.
- A healthcare application for Risdon Pharma
- Coin sorting installation for the National Bank
- Filling and sealing machine for set meals
- MHM Speed 4b up to 800/minute
- FS 1100 / 12-track / jam / 600/minute
- FS 1100 / baby food / 4-track, 180/minute
- FS 1100 / baby food / 7-track, 240/minute
The new assembly hall has to adapt to the new machine sizes.
- FS 910 / 8-track, 500/minute
Stacker / disk inserts / filling / 3-punch sealing sta-tions
MBO: Management buy-out.
Hans Rychiger AG becomes Rychiger AG, with healthcare developing into a key cornerstone.
Background: A new generation: “diagnosis cards”
- Larger cards require bigger machines
- Pet food goes 10-track with 500 trays/minute
Versions for aluminium or plastic tubs.
- AHM 78: 5-track tandem with 500 tubs/minute
90 years of Rychiger AG, machine works
135 employees, including 12 apprentices
Video: Cheese sorting machine
- Sale of the MHM machine sector to the competitor Soudronic. This creates more space for healthcare developments
- After 30 years, this coloured machine gets a successor with a monotone gloss
- Good things for health: Diagnosis cards
- A new version of the cheese sorting machine (first machine built in 1960)
- Rotary-type machines become increasingly important
- Large machine at Interpack 2008
- Further construction work goes on. First the excavation …
- … then the production hall is built over the parking level.
Once again, more space is needed
“Rychiger builds for better times” – this is the headline that appears in the newspaper Thuner Tagblatt after the ground-breaking ceremony for the 6-million-franc project.
- The Nespresso FS 910 now has 12 tracks and produces up to 1,500 capsules per minute
- Increased output is now also required in the clean capsule systems
Output rises to meet demand
The company moves into the new building after just one year of construction.
- The first filling and sealing machine is used in the area of functional foods
- Production is modernised and made more efficient. 24-hour production is now possible due to robots.
- A lower level of output is required in Rychiger quality
- A wooden model is created before building the machine itself. The process for creating a fully functional installation is lengthy and elaborate
- Whether short or long, rotary or in-line – they all have to be boarded. Occupational safety and sound protection become increasingly important. But maintenance points still have to be easily accessible.
Acquisition and award
Video: Prix SVC Espace Mittelland 2015
- The company wins the Prix SVC Espace Mittelland – an award for especially innovative achievements. This is an impressive distinction for management and staff alike.
- Rychiger AG strengthens the business area and purchases Zellwag Pharmtech.
- The FS 190 and FS 200 go on the market
- FS 270 for meat pasties
- FS 270 for ready-made meals in aluminium bowls
- Fast, toolless access is required for maintenance
Standstill is not an option for Rychiger AG
An assembly hall is built at the previous site near the old post office. Standstill means taking a step back – this applies not just to new buildings but also to machines and organisation.
- Old buildings are demolished to create space for the new one
- After the machines are assembled, the FAT (Factory Accep. Test) is carried out by RYAG before the machines can be packaged and sent out by air freight
Expansion moves on to Poland
Particular feature of Rychiger AG: saving of costs and waste due to optimum use of packaging materials.
- Rychiger AG continues to grow beyond national borders. Formeleon is acquired – a Polish machine and parts manufacturer with a workforce of 50 employees
- Numerous machines become important elements of production chains and are integrated by customers in their overall processes. Close coordination with customers is required here
- No matter what customers want – whether in Healthcare, Coffee&Tea or Retortable – Rychiger AG integrates the required functions in the machines
Rychiger AG is ready for the next 100 years
300 employees, including 22 apprentices
This year the company celebrates a major anniversary: a chance to look back over the past. Rychiger AG is proud of its ongoing progress and growth – and the fact that the visionary pioneering spirit of its founder can be felt to this day. This is the spirit that Rychiger AG aims to carry forward into the future.
Video: New building 2018
- The company is highly motivated as it looks to the future. It will move into the new building in 2019
- The new building provides improved space for new developments and advancements
This story would not have been possible without our dedicated staff: together we want to shape the future, not predict it. We work to do so on a daily basis.