Engineers' Day 2024: Interview Stefan Frohofer - W. Schneider+Co AG
March 4, 2024

Interview: 3 questions – 3 answers

Stefan Frohofer – Technical Director at Schneider – is an engineer with body and soul. Dovetailing with Engineers' Day 2024, he highlights the importance of this day when it comes to W.Schneider+Co AG.

The "Engineers' Day" is celebrated every year on 4th March and provides the opportunity to recognise the contributions engineering makes to a better and more sustainable world. It highlights the innovation, creativity and technical expertise of engineers in various industries. In view of the lack of specialists in technical professions, this day is also used to increase the attractiveness of the profession and to inspire young people to become more enthusiastic about technical professions. The term engineer refers to a specialist in the field of technical sciences who deals with production, design and technical processes. The company Schneider is a typical SME whose operational processes could not function without the expertise of specialists in the technical field. For 70 years now, durable mirror cabinets and illuminated mirrors have been designed, developed and produced at the Flums site. Swiss Engineers' Day is part of the UNESCO World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development. It is the perfect opportunity to inspire the public with technologies that facilitate modern life.

How broad is the spectrum of technical processes at Schneider in order to make products that are marketable at the end of the value chain, that inspire customers? 

A large part of our processes takes place in the development department and in production. It is in these two areas that the profession of "engineer" is the most obvious. From the development of products of individual parts to powder coating to ready-to-use assembly on the production islands: this is where our inspiring products are born. However, before a product reaches marketability, a mirror cabinet or illuminated mirror prototype goes through several stages in product development. Our competent development team is responsible for the core process and leads the innovation and concept projects. Technical understanding is not only required in this phase, but also in all other departments. Even if an engineer per se belongs to the occupational group of those with a tertiary education, such as a university degree or a degree from a university of applied sciences, I see our employees as part of this occupational group, because, at the end of the day, we produce high-quality products together that facilitate modern life. 

In the past, mirror cabinets and illuminated mirrors were niche in bathing environments. How did the Schneider company succeed in creating products that breathe new life into the bathing world lifestyle?

In the past, mirror cabinets were a means to an end. The bathroom as such was a purely functional space that was used for personal care. The equipment played a subordinate role. As long as the water flowed and there was a light bulb or a candle lighting the room, the utility of this space was justified. Increased economic prosperity promoted the standard of living and thus also the standard of one's living space. The living room and bathroom are no longer just functional spaces, but rather an expression of our individual lifestyle. Today's bathroom is a place of retreat and well-being, supported by technological features that are both aesthetic and sustainable. The transformation from the simple to the multifunctional bathroom unit impressively shows the value of architectural development and engineering. Our Schneider PREMIUM Line Superior TW mirror cabinet is proof of this. This mirror cabinet is a "fulfiller of desires". With its timeless design, coupled with the latest lighting technology, it transforms every bathroom into a place to spend time and makes both people and all other bathroom elements shine in the best light. 

Sustainable development is on the agenda for Engineers' Day. How important is this topic for Schneider, and how is it implemented?

We have already made considerable efforts to create a sustainable value chain. For example, we use a powder-coating machine that consumes 20% less electricity. The profiles of the mirror cabinets are made of 80% recycled aluminium. In addition, the cardboard packaging is custom cut to size to reduce waste. We transport some of the products by rail to save CO2 emissions. By using the latest LED technology, our products are energy-efficient and thus reduce the household costs of end consumers. For us, the issue of sustainability is generally not a "buzzword". Together with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) in Winterthur, we are developing a corporate responsibility action plan, with the aim of improving in the areas of production, transport and product development.   

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