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Sale of 40% stake in Glencore Agricultural Products and creation of long-term partnership with CPPIB

Glencore,CPPIB, HelveticaNews, Helvetica News

Glencore plc (“Glencore”) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (“CPPIB”) for the purchase by a wholly owned subsidiary of CPPIB of a 40% equity interest in Glencore Agricultural Products (“Glencore Agri”), for an aggregate consideration of US$2.5 billion payable in cash upon closing, subject to customary working capital closing adjustments (‘’the Transaction’’).

Glencore,CPPIB, HelveticaNews, Helvetica News The Transaction values 100% of the equity in Glencore Agri at US$6.25 billion. As at 31 December 2015, the business had long-term debt of US$0.6 billion and working capital (net of cash) of US$3.0 billion (including readily marketable inventories of US$2.5 billion) which it intends to finance with short term debt on closing.

The Transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions and is expected to close during the second half of 2016. The proceeds from the Transaction will be used by Glencore to reduce net indebtedness.

Glencore Agri is a differentiated and vertically-integrated business focused on the global agricultural products value chain. Built around a network of high-quality origination and logistics assets, comprising over 200 storage facilities, 31 processing facilities and 23 ports in strategic locations around the world, Glencore Agri is well-positioned in key export regions and in the trade of major agricultural commodities including grains, oilseeds products, rice, sugar, pulses and cotton. In the year to 31 December 2015, Glencore Agri reported earnings before interest and tax of US$524 million, and at 31 December 2015 had gross assets of US$10,187 million.

Upon closing, Glencore Agri will be governed by its own board of directors. CPPIB shall have the right to appoint two directors to the Board of Glencore Agri alongside two Glencore-appointed directors and the CEO, Chris Mahoney. At shareholder meetings Glencore and CPPIB representatives shall vote in proportion to their shareholdings, subject to certain reserved matters.

Glencore,CPPIB, HelveticaNews, Helvetica News In addition, and consistent with the mutual commitment to a successful long-term partnership, Glencore and CPPIB have agreed to an initial four year lock-up period subject to a carve-out for Glencore to sell up to a further 20% stake. As well as customary exit provisions, including a right of first refusal, each of Glencore and CPPIB may call for an initial public offering of Glencore Agri after eight years from the date of closing.

Commenting on the Transaction, Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, said:

“We are pleased to be partnering with CPPIB as we embark on the next stage of the development of Glencore Agri. Under Glencore’s ownership the business has been successfully rebased, particularly following the Viterra acquisition in 2012 and is well-positioned to benefit from long-term global macro and sector trends. CPPIB have a proven track record in the sector and share our vision for the future growth of the business through value-creating organic and inorganic growth opportunities for the benefit of all stakeholders. We welcome them aboard and look forward to continuing our good relationship as we work together.”

Commenting on the Transaction, Chris Mahoney, CEO of Glencore Agri, said:

“This is an important day in the evolution of Glencore Agri, and we look forward to working with CPPIB to continue to build the Glencore Agri business over the long-term. With the investment potential created by this partnership, and given the existing network of high-quality origination, logistics and port assets in key export regions, the business is now well-placed to take advantage of the significant opportunities that are expected to emerge across the sector in the coming years.”

Commenting on the Transaction, Mark Jenkins, Senior Managing Director and Global Head of Private Investments at CPPIB, said:

“As an asset class, agriculture is an excellent fit for a long-term investor like CPPIB, and we are excited about the opportunity to acquire a significant stake in Glencore Agri, a leading agricultural business. Glencore Agri complements our existing portfolio of agriculture assets, bringing global exposure, scale and diversification. In addition, Glencore Agri’s experienced management team has a proven track record of growth, and combined with a successful business model, we see this as a compelling opportunity that aligns with CPPIB’s long-term investment horizon.

Source: Glencore News

Schindler to equip world’s largest airport in Turkey

swiss, turkey, schindler, Helvetica news

The Istanbul Grand Airport (IGA) has chosen Schindler as the main supplier for elevators and escalators for the new international airport in Istanbul.

swiss, turkey, schindler, Helvetica newsThe award of the contract by IGA includes the supply of a total of 648 units by Schindler to the world’s biggest airport. The contract consists of the delivery, installation and maintenance of 306 elevators, 159 escalators and 183 moving walks.

“We are very proud that Schindler is contributing to Turkey’s new airport business hub in Istanbul”, says Thomas Oetterli, CEO of the Schindler Group. “We are excited to bring our innovative technologies into this long-term partnership with IGA.”

The largest airport in the world

The new airport will add huge capacity to the city’s existing airports. Once completed, it is expected that the new airport will host more than 150 airline companies flying to more than 350 destinations with an annual passenger capacity of up to 200 million.

“We are absolutely sure we have chosen the right partner. Schindler not only delivers highly advanced products and reliable service but also stands for strong project management matching our demanding schedule for this super mega airport project”, explains Yusuf Akçayoğlu, CEO of IGA.

Precision-engineered, modern and energy efficient Schindler products can be found in the airports of various cities such as Singapore, Seoul, Mumbai, London, Munich or Rome and will – after its completion – now also ensure the smooth flow of traffic in the world’s largest airport in Istanbul.

 

Number one for food! Nestlé tops global marketers ranking

Successful marketing campaigns for top brands including KitKat and Nescafé won Nestlé first place in the food category of the Effie Effectiveness Index 2016.

nestle, kitkat, japan, helveticanewsThe prestigious global Effie Index measures the impact of marketing campaigns around the world.

Nestlé topped the food advertisers’ group, with 67 Effie awards worldwide as a result of standout campaigns for more than 22 brands. It also came fourth in Effie’s overall global ranking of advertisers.

Award-winning Nestlé campaigns included Nescafé in India, Mövenpick in Germany, Jack’s Pizza in the USA and a novel KitKat promotion in Japan.

nestle, kitkat, india, helveticanewsNestlé Japan teamed-up with a railway company that agreed to accept KitKat bars as tickets. The aim was to promote tourism and celebrate the reopening of train lines after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Source: Nestle News

The Swatch Art Peace Hotel Special 2016

For the first time ever, The Swatch Art Peace Hotel Special has been created by an artist from the Swiss watchmaker’s celebrated artist-in-residence program.

Swatch, Swiss, Helvetica News, Art Peace HotelSingapore’s Yi Lin Juliana Ong, who goes by “Juls”, studied art and design in London, England. She has won major awards for her drawing and her artwork has been shown in museums and galleries in the UK and Singapore. In 2014 she accepted Swatch’s invitation to live and work in Shanghai for six months at The Swatch Art Peace Hotel.

Swatch, Swiss, Helvetica News, Art Peace HotelThe new Swatch Art Peace Hotel Special, JULS AT SWATCH ART PEACE HOTEL (SUOZ217), presents faces and figures inspired, says the artist, by the comic faces found on Chinese artifacts.

Drawn in red and blue against a white ground, they are part of a colorful, lively community that emerged from drawing exercises while she was an artist-in-residence. “It’s all about the process, the adventures and those strange characters”, Juls commented. The figures on the dial and the silicone strap are joined by other members of the community on the special sleeve.

Source: Swatch News

Première pour Alpiq avec l’installation d’une batterie Powerwall domestique Tesla

La première batterie domestique Tesla montée par Alpiq est en service depuis le début mars. Les spécialistes d’Helion Solar ont installé la batterie Powerwall dans une maison individuelle située à Rüttenen SO. Cette cellule permet de stocker l’électricité autoproduite d’origine solaire pour la consommer le moment venu.

Powerwall, Première pour Alpiq avec l'installation d'une batterie domestique Tesla
Première pour Alpiq avec l’installation d’une batterie domestique Tesla

En Suisse, Monsieur et Madame Tout le monde apprécient de pouvoir vivre de la manière la plus autonome possible, un penchant qui touche aussi leur habitat au quotidien. Une maison qui s’alimente en électricité de façon autosuffisante, sans dépendre du réseau électrique local semble donc être la solution idéale. Un pas décisif allant précisément dans la direction de l’autonomie énergétique des foyers vient d’être franchi: le 7 mars 2016, les professionnels d’Helion Solar, une société Alpiq, ont installé pour la première fois une batterie domestique Tesla de type Powerwall.

La batterie Powerwall apporte un avantage crucial aux propriétaires d’une maison: jusqu’à présent, l’électricité produite sur sa propre toiture grâce à l’énergie solaire ne pouvait pas être stockée, ce qui en limitait l’emploi par temps couvert ou de nuit. Une situation qui change avec l’utilisation de la batterie domestique Tesla, capable de stocker 6,4 kilowattheures. Un dispositif de stockage en charge complète dispose de suffisamment d’énergie pour regarder la télévision pendant quatre jours et demi d’affilée ou repasser 108 chemises. Les panneaux photovoltaïques se transforment ainsi en une source d’électricité disponible tout au long de la journée.

Et d’un point de vue économique, la batterie domestique s’avère aussi être une option avantageuse. «Pour les propriétaires d’une maison, coupler une installation photovoltaïque à une batterie domestique est une démarche vraiment intéressante. Sur le long terme, cette solution est plus rentable que de s’approvisionner en électricité auprès du fournisseur local», explique Noah Heynen, directeur d’Helion Solar. De plus, chaque prosommateur d’électricité solaire (un producteur qui est à la fois consommateur) apporte une contribution importante au tournant énergétique.

Source Alpiq News

Spezialist für Multi­funktionsmaschinen

Patrick Haegeli, Willemin-Macodel, Spezialist für Multi­funktionsmaschinen
Spezialist für Multi­funktionsmaschinen

Das Familienunternehmen Willemin-Macodel wurde 1974 von Blaise Haegeli gegründet. Aktiv in der Uhrenindustrie, hat es sich sehr früh auch in den Bereichen der Medizintechnik, der Luft- und Raumfahrt sowie der Zahnmedizin einen Namen gemacht. Parallel dazu wurden internationale Märkte erschlossen dank einer Reihe innovativer Produkte der Spitzentechnologie. An der EMO 2013 kam es zur Weltpremiere der 701S, ausgestattet mit der Delta-Kinematik, welche durch ihre erstaunliche Dynamik und Präzision brilliert.

Letztes Jahr in Mailand war es die neue 508MT2 Linear und ihre Version X1000, ein Dreh-Fräs-Zentrum ab Stange, welche im Rampenlicht bei Willemin-Macodel stand. Dank Linearmotoren ist das Bearbeitungszentrum noch genauer als seine Vorgänger und bringt einen deutlichen Gewinn, was Dynamik und die erreichten Oberflächenqualitäten angeht. Die gezielte Kühlung aller sensiblen Teile erhöht die Präzision und die Wiederholbarkeit noch mehr. Dazu kommt das grössere Drehmoment sowie die Unterbringung aller Peripherieeinrichtungen im gleichen Schaltschrank; ein nicht unbedeutender Gewinn hinsichtlich der Bodenbelegung. Patrick Haegeli, stellvertretender Generaldirektor, gibt klar und detailliert Auskunft auf Fragen des MSM.

Wie geht es Ihrem Unternehmen über ein Jahr nach der Aufgabe der Wechselkursuntergrenze durch die SNB?

patrick haegeli - willemin macodell
Patrick Haegeli, Geschäftsführer von Willemin-Macodel.

Patrick Haegeli: Die starke Aufwertung des Schweizer Frankens hat unsere Lage natürlich beeinträchtigt, denn wir exportieren einen Grossteil unserer Produkte. Die Konfrontation mit unseren ausländischen Mitbewerbern, insbesondere aus Deutschland und Japan, ist sehr schwierig geworden, weil durch die Aufgabe der Wechselkursuntergrenze die Importe vorteilhafter geworden sind. Weitere Faktoren, konjunkturelle und politische, haben ihre Spuren im Jahr 2015 hinterlassen und werden auch in diesem Jahr ein Rolle spielen. Die Uhrenindustrie, welche einen wichtigen Anteil unserer Produktion aufnimmt, leidet unter dem Rückgang der chinesischen Nachfrage. Der Aufschwung der Märkte in den USA und Europa ist relativ schwach und die unsichere Situation in Russland schlägt ebenfalls negativ zu Buche. Trotz dieses nachteiligen Wirtschaftsumfelds werden die Zahlen für 2015 zufriedenstellend sein. Ende 2014 war der Bestellungseingang recht gut und dank unserer Positionierung konnten wir den Auftragsbestand bis heute zufriedenstellend halten. Unsere neuen Produkte wie das Bearbeitungszentrum 508MT2 Linear und der Umstand, dass wir massgeschneiderte Bearbeitungslösungen für Teile mit hoher Wertschöpfung anbieten, haben wesentlich zum Erfolg beigetragen. Die Kostenreduktion und die Produktivitätsverbesserung gehören natürlich zu den Daueraufgaben. Diese Anstrengungen sind lange vor der Aufgabe der Wechselkursuntergrenze eingeleitet worden. Aber es ist auch klar, dass dieses einschneidende Ereignis uns gezwungen hat, gewisse Optimierungskriterien zu überdenken. Für das laufende Jahr ist die Sicht noch etwas eingeschränkt. Fast ein Drittel der MEM-Unternehmen erwarten einen operationellen Verlust aufgrund der relativen Frankenstärke im 2015. Tatsächlich könnte sich die Situation 2016 noch verschlechtern, sollte die Konjunktur weiter schwächeln und der Schweizer Franken in den nächsten Monaten nicht an Stärke verlieren.

Das Design Ihrer Maschinen hat rundere Formen angenommen. Haben Sie damit auch die Arbeitsergonomie verbessert?

Spezialist für Multi­funktionsmaschinen - Interview mit Herrn Patrick HaegeliP. Haegeli: Vorerst ist es wichtig, dass die ganze Technologie unserer Maschinen auf den ersten Blick erkennbar ist. Natürlich wollten wir unseren neuen Maschinen eine sehr moderne, starke und attraktive Linie geben. Das Design ist jedoch auch die Folge der getroffenen Entscheidungen im Hinblick auf die bestmögliche Ergonomie für die Benutzer und die Maschinenwartung. Während des ganzen Verbesserungsprozesses haben wir bei den Lösungsansätzen immer die Vorteile für das Bedienungspersonal im Auge behalten. Dazu war die kleinstmögliche Bodenbelegung gefragt. Dies nicht nur weil die Quadratmeter in der Produktion kostbar sind, sondern weil die Kompaktheit der Maschinen ebenfalls ein wichtiges Verkaufsargument ist. Unser neues Bearbeitungszentrum 508MT2 Linear enthält sämtliche Peripherieeinrichtungen in den maschineneigenen Abmessungen zur minimalen Bodenbelegung. Das neue Design gilt auch für die weiteren Versionen dieser Maschinenreihe, nämlich das Bearbeitungszentrum 508S2 Linear mit fünf Simultanachsen zum Fräsen/Drehen im Modus Stück für Stück oder Palettieren sowie die Ausführung 508MT2 X1000 für die Multiprozess-Bearbeitung von Stangenmaterial. Diese verlängerte Version der Maschine 508MT2 erlaubt die simultane Bearbeitung auf zwei Stationen, was den Vorteil hat, die Bearbeitungszeit durch den gleichzeitigen Eingriff von zwei Werkzeugen erheblich zu vermindern.

Top foods to try some hearty traditional cuisine in Switzerland

Top foods to try some hearty traditional cuisine in Switzerland

With a mountainous landscape perfect for decadent skiing holidays, vast lakes and unique climate, Switzerland is the perfect place for a mini-break. It’s also home to some hearty traditional cuisine.

Whether you’re visiting Switzerland to enjoy an activity holiday on the slopes or are plumping for a European city break, a trip is a great opportunity to indulge in some seriously indulgent feasting.

 Fondue

Top foods to try some hearty traditional cuisine in Switzerland
Top foods to try in Switzerland

Fondue in Switzerland may seem clichéd, but it is indelibly woven into the country’s fabric. For centuries, Swiss living in the mountains relied on fondue as a way to use bread and cheese during colder months. Today, it is a must-have for any local or visitor to the country from autumn to spring. Dunk rustic country bread into melted cheeses (opt for a moitie-moitie of gruyere and vacheron), infused with lashings of wine and garlic, bubbly over an open flame. Pair yours with white wine and chase it with schnapps or tea for an epic winter meal.

Leeks with potatoes and sausage (Papet Vaudois)

Top foods to try in Switzerland

Papet Vaudois is best described as a mash of leeks and potatoes that are stewed for hours. The result is an earthy, onion-tinged mixture that makes the perfect root bed for fat sausage, unique to the canton of Vaud (saucisson Vaudois). With deep roots in the canton, Papet Vaudois is akin to the region’s emblematic dish, and its notorious crimson sausage, loosely stuffed and plump, is not to be missed.

Rosti, Valaisanne-style

Top foods to try in Switzerland

Thinly grated potatoes, pan-fried until crisp and golden, rosti is one of Switzerland’s iconic national dishes. Though no one knows when the first rosti was cooked-up, farmers in the canton of Bern would traditionally eat it for breakfast. It is now found throughout the country and across mealtimes. For a brilliant winter rendition, indulge in a Rosti Valaisanne, from the canton of Valais. Served steaming in a ceramic dish, Rosti Valaisanne is a delightfully addictive mash-up of rosti topped with salty bacon, fried egg, and melted raclette cheese, served alongside tangy gherkins and pickled pearl onions.

Basel-style roasted flour soup

It was once said that a girl from Basel could not marry until she knew how to make roasted flour soup. Though there are countless ways to make the dish, at its most basic, it is simply flour, butter, onion and beef stock, topped with a reserved grating of Gruyere. Legend has it the soup was created when a distracted cook was chatting away, leaving flour cooking in a pot until accidentally browned. Rather than ditch the mishap, it was turned into a dish that has endured. The soup is a must-have at Basel Carnival, which is officially launched with a serving of it at 3am.

Raclette

Scents of wood-burning fires and pine waft through Switzerland’s roads in cooler months. Step into most hillside haunts and the fragrance of pungent melted raclette cheese will also greet you. Hailing from the canton of Valais, raclette is a local cheese customarily grilled slowly over a fire, with layer-by-melted-layer sliced off to blanket boiled potatoes, pickles and onions. Contemporary raclette machines make grilling commonplace in Swiss homes, where friends gather for hours, waiting for slices of raclette to melt, while drinking copious glasses of local Fendant wine.

Polenta and braised beef

The Italian-speaking canton of Ticino has been stirring polenta  – a cornmeal dish, cooked into porridge – for centuries. Traditionally, it was cooked slowly in a copper cauldron over a fire, until thick and hearty. Come wintertime, savoury braised beef, teeming with wine-induced flavours, is a staple pairing with polenta, in a perfect marriage of rustic tastes and culinary traditions.

Zurich-style ragout of veal and mushroom (Zurcher geschnetzeltes)

chees, Sitzerland, Traditional food, Top foods to try in Switzerland

Zurich-style diced veal is an iconic national dish that makes a hearty, wintertime lunch. Made of sliced veal, calves’ kidneys and sweetbreads sautéed in a gravy of onions, butter, white wine, cream, and mushrooms, this old-school favourite hails from Switzerland’s most dynamic German-speaking city though has found its way, justifiably, onto menus around the country. The mixture of cream laced with wine over veal, Zurcher geschnetzeltes as it’s known in Swiss-German dialect, is a delight on the piste or off.

Tartiflette

chees, Sitzerland, Traditional food, Top foods to try in Switzerland

Tartiflette was conceived near the French-Swiss border in the department of Haute-Savoie, home to the local Reblochon cheese. Though the cheese dates to the 16th century, tartiflette was fashioned only in the 1980s by the Reblochon trade union in an effort to help sagging sales. And it worked. Today, tartiflette is a staple dish at most ski resorts, particularly those in Swiss-Romande. This rustic plate is a starchy combination of thinly sliced potatoes, smoky bits of bacon, carmelised onions and oozy, nutty, creamy Reblocohon cheese (of course).

Bern-style lekerlis biscuits with hazelnuts

Leckerli have a long and treasured history in Switzerland, particularly at Christmas time. Though their ancestors, Lebkuchen, are German sweets, these spiced, gingerbread-like biscuits were given a tender hazelnut rendering in the Swiss capital of Bern centuries ago. Sticky, spicy, sweet, Leckerli are more than worthy of your Swiss culinary bucket-list, particularly when dunked in tea.

Vacherin Mont D’Or

chees, Sitzerland, Traditional food, Top foods to try in Switzerland

Only in Switzerland does cheese have seasonality. And between September and April, when the mountains are snowcapped, Mont-d’Or Vacherin pops-up in cheese shops, as it has for over a century. This soft, pungent cow’s milk cheese is freshly made from the villages around the Jura region. Covered with white wine and garlic, then cooked in its round wooden packaging, digging into this gooey, creamy cheese, served warm over boiled potatoes, is a delightful winter ritual.

INDUSTRIE 2025 : CHARTE

INDUSTRIE 2025 : CHARTE

Modèle de réflexion pour une place industrielle suisse compétitive sur la base des projets de numérisation et de réseautage d’Industrie 4.0

L’expression « Industrie 4.0 » a été influencée en 2012 par l’initiative allemande du même nom et s’est établie au niveau international. Toutefois, la présence élevée de ce thème dans les médias, sur des outils de marketing et lors de nombreuses manifestations a donné lieu à diverses interprétations. De plus, diverses tendances parallèles (telles que Internet of things, additive manufacturing, etc.) ont contribué à une plus ample dilution de la réflexion de base d’« Industrie 4.0 ». Raison pour laquelle il est déterminant pour procéder de manière commune de mettre sur pied et d’établir une vision uniforme et supérieure d’« Industrie 4.0 ». La charte « Industrie 2025 » en constitue un outil. Il faut la comprendre comme un modèle de réflexion comprenant vision et champs d’action. Elle s’oriente sur la place industrielle suisse en se basant sur des approches liées à la numérisation et à la mise en réseau d’« Industrie 4.0 ».

Dans l’espace économique globalisé, la Suisse se voit confrontée à de nombreux défis. Pour continuer d’agir avec succès et compétitivité, ainsi que pour assurer des emplois en Suisse, il est nécessaire d’agir : la nouvelle orientation engagée dans le monde entier vers des chaînes de création de valeur numérisées et en réseau doit aussi être poursuivie dans l’industrie suisse de manière judicieuse et conséquente – aussi bien dans les processus existants que dans les nouveaux développements. C’est ainsi que la place industrielle suisse est renforcée par l’innovation permanente et le développement de savoir-faire. L’industrie suisse s’engage avec ses associations pour l’application du modèle de réflexion « Industrie 2015 » – avec l’intention de maintenir le bien-être de l’ensemble de la population suisse avec une place industrielle suisse forte.

La vision de chaque entreprise se base sur quatre piliers :

Industrie 4.0, la charte, suisse

Industrie 4.0, suisse, La charte

Les investissements et les mesures en suspens se basent sur quatre champs d’action :

Swiss National Day, 1 August

Celebrate the founding of the Swiss Confederation with a range of festivities held throughout Switzerland on 31 July and 1 August on ‘Bundesfeier’

Since 1891, the first of August has been celebrated as Swiss National Day, or Bundesfeier. The date refers to an alliance formed in 1291 by the three cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, the centre around which Switzerland was built.
Each Swiss commune offers a day of federal unity by organising firework displays, concerts, public speeches or presentations to celebrate Bundesfeier. Thousands of people attend festivities in the largest cities (Zurich, Basel, Geneva, Bern and Lugano). The main celebrations, however, take place at the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen and at the Ruetli Meadows alongside Lake Lucerne.

Swiss National Day at the Rhine Falls

After sunset the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen are illuminated for the special event, and a fireworks display on July 31 is expected to attract thousands of spectators to this special site. Admission to this ethereal event is free. For something different, visitors can also reserve to enjoy a dinner and have special seats for the firework show, or even watch the fireworks from a boat.

Rütli Meadow National Day events

A representative celebration is staged at the Rütli Meadow in the canton of Uri above Lake Lucerne. It takes place in the same place where the legendary pledge of alliance was pronounced.

Bundesfeier in Zurich: Swiss culture on display

Zurich observes Bundesfeier on 1 August from 10.30am with a procession from Werdmühleplatz via Bahnhofstrasse to Bürkliplatz. The procession gives visitors a chance to experience colourful Swiss customs, and is later followed by a public festival.

Basel’s National Day celebrations

Basel celebrates the National Day one day early, on 31 July. The major city festival takes place on the Rhine with a range of food stalls to choose from, accompanied by entertaining festivities and performances from 5pm until 2am, including the rubber dinghy race and the open-air concert on the Kulturfloss (floating stage). At 11pm, a fireworks display lights up the Rhine. The festival area stretches along the Kleinbasler side of the Rhine from the Johanniterbrücke to the Wettsteinbrücke, and in Grossbasel from the Johanniterbrücke to the Mittlere Brücke, and from the harbour to the Marktplatz.

Geneva’s party in the park

Geneva’s official festivities, including speeches, paper lantern parade, bonfire, costume contest and fireworks, are held in in Grange’s Park. After 3.30pm, head to the park for a diversified programme of animations.

Bern’s city brunch and tours

Bern’s celebrations include a lantern procession and of course fireworks. Throughout the day is a range of activities for children and adults alike, with the 1 August celebrations kicking off with a city bunch on the Münsterplatz and followed by concerts and official ceremonies. You can also enjoy an Open Day at the Bundeshaus (Parliament building), a kids’ programme on the Münsterplattform terrace, and guided tours of the Zytglogge (Clock Tower) and cathedral.

Wake up to Lugano’s drum parade

Lugano begins festivities on 1 August with a drum procession at 6am and continues to celebrate with speeches, concerts, and fireworks in plazas around the city. At the end of the day, crowds gather to watch the fireworks display at 10.30pm.

Why curiosity will rule the modern world

Why curiosity will rule the modern world. We ought to be doing everything we can to foster curiosity but we undervalue and misunderstand it.

Before the internet and before the printing press, knowledge was the preserve of the 1 per cent. Books were the super yachts of 17th-century kings. The advent of the printing press and, latterly, the worldwide web has broken this monopoly. Today, in a world where vast inequalities in access to information are finally being levelled, a new cognitive divide is emerging: between the curious and the incurious.

Twenty-first-century economies are rewarding those who have an unquenchable desire to discover, learn and accumulate a wide range of knowledge. It’s no longer just about who or what you know, but how much you want to know. The curious are more likely to stay in education for longer. A hungry mind isn’t the only trait you need to do well at school, but according to Sophie von Stumm of Goldsmiths, University of London, it is the best single predictor of achievement, allied as it is with the other two quantifiably important traits: intelligence and conscientiousness.

Across the developed world, the cost of university is rising, but the cost of not going to university is rising faster. In the UK, according to a report commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, workers with degrees earn 27 per cent more than those with only A-levels.

Once at university, students find that individual differences in their cognitive ability flatten out (you had to be reasonably smart to get there) and an inner drive to learn becomes even more important. Curiosity can make the difference between classes of degree, and that matters: workers with Firsts or Upper Seconds earn on average £80,000 more over a lifetime than those with 2:2s or lower.

Students entering the workplace need to stay curious, because the wages for routine intellectual work, even in professional industries such as accountancy and law, are falling. Technology is rapidly taking over tasks historically performed by human beings, and it’s no longer enough to be merely competent or smart: computers are both. But no computer can yet be said to be curious. As the technology writer Kevin Kelly puts it, “Machines are for answers; humans are for questions.”

Industries are growing more complex and unpredictable and employers are increasingly looking for curious learners: people with an aptitude for cognitively demanding work and a thirst for knowledge. This applies even in areas not previously thought to be intellectually challenging. Curious people are often good at solving problems for their employers, because they’re really solving them for themselves. When confident that others are working on the same problem, most people cut themselves slack. Highly curious people form an exception to this rule.

Curiosity may be a fundamental human trait but intellectual curiosity is hard work. It requires a willingness to learn things that can seem pointless at the time but turn out to be useful later, and to perform boring tasks such as writing out equations over and over again. This is dependent on the guidance of adults and experts.

The web is just as likely to neuter curiosity as supercharge it. It presents us with more opportunities to learn than ever before, and also to watch endless videos of kittens. Those who acquire the habits of intellectual curiosity early on will use computers to learn throughout their lives; those who don’t may find they are replaced by one, having had their curiosity killed by cats.

Switzerland’s Most Attractive Employers

Switzerland’s Most Attractive Employers
Switzerland’s Most Attractive Employers
Switzerland’s Most Attractive Employers

The results of the Swiss Student Survey reveal how students perceive organizations as employers in Switzerland. The research functions as a basis for decision-making when choosing target groups, messages and channels for future employer branding campaigns, as well as a control instrument for measuring the appeal an organization has over its specific target groups.

The rankings below reveal how attractive an employer is among students, and indicates a company’s position in relation to other ideal employers in the recruitment market. The rankings enable employers to track and set targets for measuring their level of employer attractiveness.

“Generation Y has a strong desire for employability, i.e. the ability to find employment based on one’s own competencies, because of their safety-mindedness. Members of this generation have realized that they can develop their competencies only with continuing education and development by an inspiring management.” Yves Schneuwly, Universum CEO Switzerland.

Rank     Employer

  1. Google.
  2. Nestlé.
  3. UBS.
  4. Credit Suisse.
  5. PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers).
  6. Swatch Group.
  7. LVMH (incl. Louis Vuitton, Dior, Sephora).
  8. McKinsey & Company.
  9. L’Oréal Group.
  10. SWISS.

Surprising results: Generation Y  wants consistency.  Swiss students participated in Universum’s annual survey.            The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete, and participants are about 24 years old, on average.

Ideal Employer Ranking, Google secured the number one spot – and thus,  for the first             time, the IT leader was able to outpace the former  leader, Néstle. “We’ve observed this phenomenon around  the world in other global markets where Universum conducts surveys: Everyone wants to work at Google – even business  students“,  says Yves Scheuwly, country manager at Universum Switzerland. The leading Swiss.

Banks are maintaining their previous positions for the most part; however, UBS  (No. 3) has been able to expand  its lead and to outpace its competitor Credit Swiss (No. 4). Foreign investment  banks have been able to restore the confidence of Swiss  business students, especially J.P. Morgan (No. 20). World Economic Forum is the highest-placed newcomer, entering the ranking this year at No. 21.

You can find more information on www.universumglobal.com

SWIZA, More than 100 years of experience

The opening of the Baselworld 2015 marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the SWIZA brand. SWIZA since its foundation in 1904, been developing and producing clock movements, alarm clocks and table clocks in Delémont.

Swiza, More than 100 years of experience
SWIZA

For more than a year, an experienced team of product development, operations, marketing and sales professionals led by Peter Hug, CEO of SWITZ International SA, has been working on a new, authentic Swiss brand to be marketed worldwide and developing products that will help on-the-go people around the globe enjoy their day-to-day adventures.

These two groups have agreed to establish a strategic partnership. This summer, in addition to table clocks and alarm clocks the SWIZA brand will also include a newly developed range of Swiss-made wristwatches, Swiss designed backpacks and luggage, as well as, protective cases, rechargeable batteries and connection cables for mobile devices. Further products will follow over the coming months.

Both entities are headquartered in the Jura region of Switzerland combined 110 +1 years of experience, which is known for its outstanding knowledge of micromechanics, the combination of traditional watchmaking with

Perer hug, CEO of SWITZ International SA
Perer hug, CEO of SWITZ International SA

experience in development and the international sale of products for today’s people on the go. It is this common bond that is the sound foundation for the reorientation of the SWIZA brand.

The Baselworld 2015 event will be used to present the new appearance of the SWIZA brand and the first new products. Peter Hug states: “Following many months of quiet development and creation, we are delighted to be able to present the results of our work and we look forward to the feedback from our customers”.

In conjunction with this project, 17 new jobs have already been created since October 2013, 13 of which are at the head office in Delémont. In the medium term, the group plans to employ 50 people.

202 TG, High precision turning and grinding

202 TG, High precision turning and grinding

202 TG, High precision turning and grinding. Even today, nearly one century after the company’s foundation, and after extensive experiences in the fields of the construction of lathes and milling machines, Schaublin Machines SA will continue to follow always the same target – the construction of high-precision machinery.

202 TG, High precision turning and grinding
202 TG | TURNING AND GRINDING

Has Its 202 TG,  high precision and production machine that combined turning and grinding, this machine can be used for both turning and grinding operations.

It comes with a cast frame, a W25 headstock and two slides (X/Z axes). The user now has the possibility to perform his turning and grinding tasks on one single machine. However, the machine can also be used exclusively for grinding, be it external or internal grinding, even more so as the protective devices of the machine have been especially designed for this type of machining.

In addition, the 202 TG can be equipped with a bar loader with collet or chucks as well as with various other options like tailstock, turret, grinding spindle, parts catcher etc. in order to reach the exacting needs of our customer.

SWIZA NOWUS – right choice for a new beginning

SWIZA NOWUS - right choice for a new beginning
SWIZA,PETER,HUG,SWIZA NOWUS - Right choice for a New Beginning
The round face reflects the heritage of watch design.

The fusion between two major brands SWIZA SA and SWITZ International SA are created a ambitious collection of Swiss-made watches. The new SWIZA watch offers over 50 models in 5 lines and includes the instantly iconic, SWIZA NOWUS.

This feather-light watch is the quintessential balance between classic and modern design. The round face reflects the heritage of watch design in the canton of Jura, the cushion casing and fluid lines add a fresh style inspired by SWIZA’s DNA in the color palette of the dynamic Switzerland of today.

The SWIZA NOWUS line is the crown prince of the inaugural SWIZA watch assortment featuring over 50 models being unveiled today by SWITZ International SA.

SWIZA,PETER,HUG,SWIZA NOWUS - Right choice for a New Beginning
SWIZA NOWUS assortment share the perfect balance of design & tradition.

All five models of the SWIZA NOWUS assortment share the perfect balance of design & tradition. This merging of the Jura’s world renowned values: craftsmanship, precision and reliability with the fresh style and colors of today’s Switzerland results in a strong and well-balanced design.

The aesthetically pleasing and ergonomically engineered casing echoes the carefree style of Switzerland’s genuine flair for innovation.

The crown is a tribute to our Swissness and the thoughtfully designed scratch-resistant rounded sapphire glass provides superior protection.

The gentle curved shape of the crystal is a benchmark of SWIZA brand design language common to SWIZA watches and products in other categories.

The SWIZA NOWUS watch: the Swiss watch to accompany you on your everyday adventures. Because every day can be an adventure.

Die Langdrehautomaten der Zunkunft für die Uhrenindustrie

Die Langdrehautomaten der Zunkunft für die Uhrenindustrie. – In Sachen Automatendrehen für die Uhrenindustrie ist Tornos ein sehr bekannter Name. Aber noch nie zuvor hatte ein Maschinenhersteller die Grenzen so weit hinausgeschoben in puncto Design, Ergonomie und Integration wie mit der Markteinführung der SwissNano, einer Mensch-Maschine-Schnittstelle, bei der Effizienz und Einfachheit triumphieren.

Seit über 100 Jahren stellt, Tornos Maschinen für die Uhrenindustrie her und bietet seit rund 20 Jahren auch ganz speziell auf die Anforderungen dieser Branche zugeschnittene CNC-Lösungen an (darunter die bekannten Deco 7, 10, Micro 7/8, Delta 12 und EvoDeco 10). Das Unternehmen, das diesen Markt bestens kennt, gab seinem Ingenieurteam den Antrieb, eine Maschine mit einem Design zu entwickeln, das sich klar von den anderen Produkten auf dem Markt abhebt – mit dem Ziel, eine neue Kategorie von Maschinen zu schaffen unter Langdrehautomaten.

langdrehautomaten,swissnano,swiss,nano,langdrehautomat
Berücksichtigung aller Designaspekte

Berücksichtigung aller Designaspekte

Das Design beruht bekanntlich auf zwei Aspekten: dem ästhetischen, der Einfluss auf die emotionale Ebene hat, und dem praktischen Aspekt, der sowohl rationale wie emotionale Ansprüche erfüllt. Brice Renggli, Marketingleiter, erklärt: ,,Wir hatten uns zum Ziel gesetzt, einen modernen Drehautomaten mit 4 mm Kapazität, einer minimalen Aufstellfläche und einem 180°-Zugang zu entwickeln. Deshalb haben wir uns für dieses Frontdesign und die Integration eines Tablets zusätzlich zur herkömmlichen Steuerung entschieden“.

Fertigung von zwei Dritteln aller Werkteile

Die Kinematik der SwissNano wurde ganz bewusst – und ohne Kompromisse – auf die Uhrenindustrie ausgelegt, sodass auf ihr zwei Drittel aller Bauteile eines Uhrwerks, von einfachen bis komplexen Teilen (die z. B. Verzahnungsarbeiten erfordern), hergestellt werden können. Was die Präzision und die Qualität anbelangt, so verrät uns Renggli: „Die Testkunden haben verschiedenste Werkstücktypen bearbeitet. Die Maschine weist ein hervorragendes Verhalten auf: Sie funktioniert einwandfrei wie eine Uhr und zu ihrer grössten Zufriedenheit.“

SwissNano_lathe langdrehautomaten,langdrehautomat
Priorität auf Stabilität

Priorität auf Stabilität

Die Maschinenkinematik wurde entsprechend umgesetzt, um exemplarisches Gleichgewicht und Wärmeverhalten sicherzustellen. Die Achsen und Gusseisenelemente sind symmetrisch zur Führungsbuchse angeordnet und das Wärmeverhalten wird über „kleine Schlaufen“ gesteuert, um die Verbreitung der Wärme zu verhindern. Die Gesamtstruktur ist auf drei stossgedämpften Stützpunkten befestigt. Das Ergebnis? Beispiellose Steifigkeit und Vibrationsstabilität. Die Folge? Garantierte Bearbeitungsprä- zision und -qualität. Renggli präzisiert: „Die Testergebnisse ergaben keine Fehler der Maschine, weder hinsichtlich der hohen Präzision, die in der Uhrmacherei erforderlich ist, noch in Bezug auf die Oberflächengüte.“

Einstellung, Überwachung und Interaktivität

SwissNano verfügt über ein Präzisions-Werkzeugeinstellsystem mit Sensor und Tasteinsatz. Das Ziel? Ein benutzerfreundliches System, mit dem die Werkzeuge je nach Stangendurchmesser bis auf 3 bis 8 μ genau positioniert werden können. Bei der Kommunikation ist die hohe Weiterentwicklung dieser Maschine vielleicht am offensichtlichsten. Die SwissNano verfügt an ihrer Oberseite über ein Datentablet. Sämtliche grundlegenden Produktionsdaten (produzierte Teile, Maschinenzustand, Stangenwechsel, Maschinenparküberwachung usw.) werden über diese Schnittstelle angezeigt. Der Bediener hat somit auf einen Blick Zugang zu sämtlichen Daten einer spezifischen Maschine oder eines ganzen Maschinenparks (der Zugang ist selbstverständlich sicher, nur autorisierte Personen haben Zugriff auf die zuvor festgelegten Informationsebenen).

SwissNano,swiss,nano,langdrehautomaten,langdrehautomat
DAS TABLET IM DIENSTE DES AUTOMATENDREHENS

SwissNano stellt die Leistungsfähigkeit der Schweizer Industrie unter Beweis. Zudem muss sich die Maschine als potentielle Ablösung der berühmten M7 und MS7 profilieren können, die nach wie als Referenz in Sachen Präzision und Produktivität für viele Werkstücktypen gelten. Die SwissNano musste sich also mit den neusten Technologien rüsten, um ihr Ziel zu erreichen. Verblüfft stellen wir aber auch fest, dass die SwissNano mit einer völlig unerwarteten Technologie aufwartet: Eine Anwendung ermöglicht die Fernüberwachung der Produktion der Maschine. Die SwissNano kann mit einem Android®-Tablet in ein autonomes WLAN, das sich zwischen der Maschine und dem Tablet aufbaut, eingebunden werden. Diese Anwendung dient dazu, Informationen wie Maschinenzustand, Produktionsstatus, Werkstückzeichnung, Service- und Wartungsanleitungen, Warnmeldungen und deren Fehlerbehebung aufzurufen und anzuzeigen – und dies in einer modernen und praktischen Schnittstelle verpackt.

Und damit nicht genug : Die Anwendung beschränkt sich nicht auf eine einzige Maschine, sondern kann
eine ganze Werkstatt oder eine bestimmte Maschinengruppe überwachen.

FLIR FX Security Camera

banner-rapidrecap
FLIR FX - Security all the time
FLIR FX – Security all the time

FLIR FX security camera. – If you have a Security Camera, How much time do you invest reviewing all recorded video?. Now it’s no longer necessary to spend that kind of time, because the people of FLIX has launched the new FLIR FX. It’s a wireless HD camera that allows you to recap a day in a few seconds and keep an eye on the things that you really care about.

With an Android or iOS apps, such as RapidRecap you can review events from hours of cloud recorded video simultaneously, and with SmartZone Alerts it’s possible to make recordings and have alerts happen in the specified area with motion sensing technology. Also, watch footage live anytime, anywhere on your mobile device. This app also lets you create push notifications for specific events, monitor temperature and humidity, and communicate via audio.

The Flir FX is a modular camera with 1080p resolution and a 160-degree viewing angle. Like other casual home monitoring cameras, it’s equipped with 802.11 b/g/n home Wi-Fi to stream video up into the cloud, a speaker and microphone for two-way conversations, and infrared LEDs that help it see about 30 feet in the dark. There’s also a microSD card slot and an included 8GB memory card to store video when you’re using it to capture footage on the go is available in indoor and outdoor versions (with housing) for $199 and $249 respectively and Flir Cloud services are available through three subscription plans: Flir FX includes complimentary access to Free Cloud Basic, which provides video storage dating back 48 hours along with three RapidRecaps per month. For more cloud storage days and an unlimited number of RapidRecaps, there is Flir Cloud Plus (seven days of storage) for $9.99 per month or $99.95 per year, and Flir Cloud Premium (30 days of storage) for $19.99 per month or $199.95 per year.

Do we understand success or it doesn’t exist in our society?

Do we understand success
To become a bright person or entrepreneur, that person should be someone who has the skill to exercises initiative by organizing an idea

Do we understand success or it doesn’t exist in our society? What learner agility persons are doing?

Most of all regular hard working people ask them self, How can I archive success? Which are the main step to follow? What should I do or not do for leadership achievement? It’s there a secret recipe to do something genius? How some people are doing it?. I guess that everyone, at least one time in their life, have done one or similar question. Just because that’s how human behavior works. We want a bit more, we want success. We want to see beyond the horizon. And why not? That’s how humanity had discover many things. Just wanting to see more than what they can see. Like making a small step in the moon or discovering a new continent on earth! Those adventures where provided by the first thought of someone that wanted more, someone “bright”.

To become a bright person or entrepreneur, that person should be someone who has the skill to exercises initiative by organizing an idea, to take the benefit of an opportunity and as the decision maker, decides what, how and how much that idea will be executed. According to economist Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883-1950), entrepreneurs are not necessary motivated by profit but regard it as a standard for measuring achievement or success. So we go back to success. Does success means something that we could measure from one person to another? What dose success means? In my honest opinion, there are a lot of meaning and depends of what each person thinks. The moment you define what the meaning of success is to you, would be the only way to achieve it. Is like taking steps forward in accomplishing your goals or objectives. Because after all, life it’s about moving forward and not ending were you started.

Now the question becomes “how to know the correct steps to accomplish objectives?” in order to know the answer, we could follow some author’s recommendations, which in my belief would help us to clearly mark our path to our goals. First of all, it’s important to become a learning agile person, which their qualities take shape in five particular ways:

  1. Self-Awarness: They know what they’re good at and not so good at and actively address the not so good.
  2. Mental Agility: They are critical thinkers who are comfortable with complexity, examine problems carefully and make fresh connections that they make understandable to others.
  3. People Agility: They understand the value of getting things done through others and are exceptional communicators who see conflict as an opportunity rather than a problem.
  4. Change Agility: They like to experiment and can deal with the discomfort of change; they have a passion for ideas and are highly interested in continuous improvement.
  5. Results Agility: They deliver results in first-time situation through resourcefulness and having a significant presence that inspires others.

With these particular qualities, a person could think it through, bring out the best in others, promote new possibilities, make fresh connections and after all, things will happen. So, in my opinion that would be success.

Modular Robotic Vehicle (MRV) – Nasa goes inside the automotive world

Team Nasa MRV

Modular Robotic Vehicle (MRV) – Nasa goes inside the automotive world. NASA actually has been working on something autonomous and has posted a video of its electric robotic prototype wonder on YouTube. Created by NASA at the Johnson Space Center.

Modular Robotic Vehicle (MRV) - Nasa automotive world
NASA’s Modular Robotic Vehicle, or MRV, is a golf-cart-sized two-seater “designed to meet the growing challenges and demands of urban transportation,”

NASA’s Modular Robotic Vehicle, or MRV, is a golf-cart-sized two-seater “designed to meet the growing challenges and demands of urban transportation,” says NASA Mechanical Engineer Mason Markee. “The MRV would be ideal for daily transportation in an urban environment with a designed top speed of 70 km/hr and range of 100 km of city driving on a single charge of the battery. The size and maneuverability of MRV gives it an advantage in navigating and parking in tight quarters.”

MRV is a battery-powered electric vehicle that looks more like a site-to-site transportation cart or transporter at an airport. Had a two-seat and its built off of the same technology NASA uses for space exploration rovers and control systems. It’s all part of an initiative by NASA’s Johnson Space Center to adapt space exploration technologies for use in autos down here on Earth. The MRV will in turn help develop future systems for space exploration. “Actuators, motor controllers, sensors, batteries, BMS, component cooling, sealing, and software are all examples of technologies that are being developed and tested in MRV that will be used in next generation rover systems,” said Mason Markee, a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center.

The MRV is all-electric, has a top speed of 70 kph (about 43 mph) and a range of 100 km (about 62 miles) on a single charge. While it won’t be tearing up the roadways any time soon the vehicle does have some unique driving capabilities enabled by its four independently actuated wheel modules (NASA calls them “e-corners”). Each e-corner can be controlled independently and rotated ±180 degrees about its axis. This allows for a suite of driving modes allowing MRV to maneuver unlike any traditional vehicle on the road.

In addition to conventional front two wheel steering, the back wheels can also articulate allowing for turning radiuses as tight as zero. The driving mode can be switched so that all four wheels point and move in the same direction achieving an omni-directional, crab- like motion. This makes a maneuver such as parallel parking as easy as driving next to an available spot, stopping, and then operating sideways to slip directly in between two cars.

Among other features, MRV has a passive trailing arm suspension, an in-wheel propulsion motor, and a motor-driven friction braking system. While advanced modes uses a joystick controller, the MRV features a steering wheel designed to mimic the feel of driving with a standard auto.

Modular Robotic Vehicle (MRV) - Nasa automotive world
The MRV is all-electric, has a top speed of 70 kph (about 43 mph) and a range of 100 km (about 62 miles) on a single charge

There’s no word on what the development costs were. But if NASA can figure out how to make the MRV affordable for Earthlings, it’s not difficult to imagine civilian uptake. And the MRV is something that we do not typically think of NASA creations being: Fun. It’s like driving on ice but having complete control,” says Justin Ridley, an International Space Station Flight Controller. “It’s a blast to ride in and even more fun to drive. We’ve talked about it being like an amusement park ride.

Stephanie Mlot in PCMag said, ideally, NASA wants it to traverse the extreme terrain of other planets. Motor Authority noted its liquid-cooled motors, steering wheel, and seats operating in space as an autonomous robot car.

So is the MRV designed for space or closer to earth? The answer is yes and yes. The NASA publication last year called “Game On” discussed the aims of the team that worked on the MRV. “The Modular Robotic Vehicle, or MRV, was developed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in order to advance technologies that have applications for future vehicles both in space and on Earth,” said the publication. “This work allowed us to develop some technologies we felt were needed for our future rovers,” said Justin Ridley, Johnson Space Flight Center. “These include redundant bywire systems, liquid cooling, motor technology, advanced vehicle control algorithms. We were able to learn a lot about these and other technologies by building this vehicle.”

Swiss-Type Lathe of the Future

swiss nano Swiss-typeLathe

Swiss-Type Lathe of the Future.- Tornos has a well-established reputation in the field of bar turning for watchmaking, but never before the launch of SwissNano had a manufacturer gone so far ahead in design, ergonomics and integration research into a human-machine interface with a radical focus on efficiency and simplicity.

SwissNano, Tornos, Swiss, Nano, Lathe, Automatic
Michael Hauser. CEO

For more than 100 years, Tornos has been manufacturing machines aimed at watchmaking, and for around twenty years, the company has been providing NC solutions to meet highly specific watchmaking requirements. Therefore, the company knows the market and has its engineers make every effort to impress to develop a machine whose design stands out resolutely against other products in the market. The aim it’s to create a new category within its Swiss type automatic lathe.

The SwissNano’s remarkable capacity for producing watchmaking parts. Despite its simple appearance, the SwissNano offers outstanding machining options and is the most flexible machine on the market. The machine owes its flexibility to a large range of options, but also to a good deal of ingenuity.

Combining all aspects of design and Frontal access

It is well known that design must bring together two aspects: aesthetics, which plays on emotional effect, and the practical aspects that work on both a rational and emotional level. Mr. Renggli, the Tornos Marketing Manager, said “We wanted to create a modern automatic turning machine with a 4mm capacity, occupying minimum floor space and with complete 180° access; hence this frontal design, and the integration of a tablet in addition to the conventional control.” In addition, the machine was developed so as not to require any rear access. If necessary, it can even be placed against a wall. The machining area is protected by a ‘bubble’ and is accessible from all sides.

Foolproof repeatability and precision

It is well known that design must bring together two aspects: aesthetics, which plays on emotional effect, and the practical aspects that work on both a rational and emotional level

The machine’s structure is designed to meet the most demanding needs of the watchmaking industry in terms of precision, repeatability and surface finishes. Thanks to its flexibility, the SwissNano is a competitive solution which effectively meets the needs of the watchmaking industry (amongst others), proving to be the perfect partner for producing any type of small part. The SwissNano may be small, but you will be surprised at its great performance and flexibility.

Setting, monitoring and interaction

The SwissNano includes a precision tool setting system using a sensor and feeler probe. To provide a user-friendly system able to position the tools to within 3 to 8μ, according to the bar diameter. SwissNano has a graphic tablet on top. All the basic production data (workpieces, products, machine, bar changeover, fleet monitoring, etc.) are reported on this interface. The SwissNano can communicate with an Android® tablet via a standalone Wi-Fi network which is created.

New Processor Ultra Platform for 4K Entertainment

Processor Ultra Platform for 4K Entertainment

THE NEW PROCESSOR ULTRA PLATFORM FOR 4K ENTERTAINMENT ARMADA 1500 IDEAL SOC PLATFORM SOLUTION FOR ANDROID SET TOP BOXE.

Processor Ultra Platform for 4K Entertainment
The ARMADA 1500 Ultra’s Quad Core 14K DMIPS ARM A53 CPU, 8-core GPU, offers a complete platform solution for operators, providing support for video SoCs, Wi-Fi and Internet of Things services.

The New Processor Ultra Platform for 4K Entertainment comprehensive multi-media SoC solution that Marvell presents, enables global set-top box manufacturers and PayTV operators to accelerate mass deployment of cost-effective Ultra HD devices.

Marvell, the worldwide leader in providing complete silicon solutions from mobile communications to storage, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud infrastructure, digital entertainment, in-home content delivery and Kinoma® software enabling the “Smart Life and Smart Lifestyle”, it’s now introducing the ARMADA® 1500 Ultra (88DE3218) system-on-chip (SoC) to its award-winning ARMADA 1500 family.

The Processor Ultra Platform for 4K Entertainment ARMADA 1500 Ultra’s Quad Core 14K DMIPS ARM A53 CPU, 8-core GPU, offers a complete platform solution for operators, providing support for video SoCs, Wi-Fi and Internet of Things services.

Carrier-grade security and state-of-the-art power management techniques, are designed to enable PayTV operators and set-top box (STB) manufacturers to cost-effectively deliver small form factor devices with feature-rich 4K entertainment and gaming services to their subscribers.

The main key features include:
• Highest Resolution Video that operators will be uses the centerpiece of services that consumers will demand with mass installment of 4K TVs over the next few years.
• Enables operator to deploy rich media/web based TV applications and Android TV services for enhanced viewing experience with lower power profiles.
• Powerful GPU needed for Android gaming apps that Service Providers will be rolling.
• Robust Security Engine to support evolving strict guidelines for Premium Content Broadcast include Trustzone integration and support for 4K Video Watermarking.

With its 64-bit ARM CPU. The SoC also features a sophisticated security processor supporting leading conditional access systems (CAS) solutions from Verimatrix to meet the strict standards of service operators and content partners, building on Marvell’s legacy of supporting the first Android STB with CAS.

Making, Marvell the first silicon provider to bring the 64-bit ARM architecture both to the mobile and the PayTV segments, thereby enabling the unification of the application developer ecosystem.

Two Swiss events emphasise keeping the peace

On Saturday in Switzerland a number of government organisations co-sponsored public events to celebrate and improve the safety of populations at home and abroad.

 

Swiss helicopters could be seen in action at the 25th anniversary event (Keystone)
Swiss helicopters could be seen in action at the 25th anniversary event
(Keystone)

The first event celebrated 25 years of Swiss peace-keeping on behalf of the United Nations. Around 9,000 members of the Swiss Army, including 560 women, have participated in international peace-keeping missions in the past quarter century. That engagement was celebrated on Saturday with a public event at the SWISSINT Competence Centre in canton Nidwalden.

The event, designed to give the public insight into the history of Swiss peace-keeping, featured demonstrations of a Super Puma helicopter, search-and-rescue dogs, robotic mine removers, and heavy military construction equipment used on missions, as well as the “most modern armoured ambulance in the world”.

SWISSINT comprises around 300 officers, noncommissioned officers, soldiers and civilians carrying out more than a dozen operations in Europe, Asia and Africa. In other countries, military observers and liaison officers, military advisers, and demining experts are available on behalf of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Currently, Swiss President and Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter chairs the OSCE.

Meanwhile, in Winterthur on Saturday the Safety Directorate of the canton of Zurich, the Office of Military and Civil Defence and the Zurich Forensic Institute sponsored a voluntary gun return event.

Officials collected more than 300 guns from civilians, including carbines, long guns, assault rifles, pistols, revolvers and ammunition, as well as 300 bayonets and a range of explosives. The items collected will be destroyed.

Keeping military firearms at home is a longstanding tradition in Switzerland, where members of the Swiss Army are supposed to be ready for a call to arms in times of crisis. Up to a million firearms belonging to citizens no longer on standby for active military service are still in circulation, it was estimated in 2013.

Source: Swissinfo.ch

Glencore-Rio Tinto union still a prospect

The proposal from Ivan Glasenberg that has electrified the mining industry began as a friendly telephone call, South African to South African. What, asked Glencore’s chief executive, would Jan du Plessis, Rio Tinto’s chairman, say to a merger between the two companies?

The Glencore-Xstrata merger was the largest-ever in the mining sector. Now Rio Tinto is entering into the mix (David Gray / Reuters)
The Glencore-Xstrata merger was the largest-ever in the mining sector. Now Rio Tinto is entering into the mix
(David Gray / Reuters)

Glencore-Rio Tinto union still a prospect- For months the sector has been awash with gossip about what might be Glencore’s next move, a year after it swallowed Xstrata in mining’s biggest ever deal. Now we know: Mr Glasenberg is eyeing the creation of “GlenTinto”, a $160 billion (CHF153.5 billion) resources giant that would rival BHP Billiton as the must-own stock in mining and commodities trading.

Glencore’s informal approach – manifested in Mr Glasenberg’s July phone call – was treated very seriously by Mr du Plessis, who put the merger proposal to Rio’s board. It was unanimously rejected, and Glencore was informed in August, Rio disclosed late on Monday.

Glencore said on Tuesday it was no longer actively considering a Rio merger, and under UK Takeover Panel rules, the Swiss company is, in effect, barred from making another approach to the UK group for six months.

Yet no one in the industry thinks Mr Glasenberg will give up on the idea of a merger between Glencore and Rio – July’s phone call could just be an opening skirmish. “This is likely just a shot across the bow . . . we expect Glencore to play the long game with any highly desired acquisition target,” says Tim Huff, analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

At a time of fading returns and waning investor interest in the mining sector, virtually all of Glencore’s large rivals are trying to shed assets and prepare for leaner times – an approach exemplified by BHP’s unbundling of assets acquired at the start of the natural resources boom.

Capping career
Only Mr Glasenberg seems able to row against the tide in considering ambitious deals. A merger between Glencore and Rio would cap a remarkable career since he began in the industry about 30 years ago on the coal desk of Marc Rich & Co, a trading house.

There are more prosaic reasons for Mr Glasenberg’s interest – namely iron ore, the vital ingredient in making steel. Rio is widely acknowledged to have the best iron ore assets in the business; by contrast, Glencore has a small presence.

Given Rio’s 20% share of the seaborne iron ore market, and lucrative trading opportunities, “it is not surprising that Glencore wants to expand into this commodity”, says Jim Milligan, global resource strategist at Olivetree Securities.

Furthermore, as Glencore has proved with its acquisition of Xstrata, it can generate value by putting mine production through its marketing business. “The thought of Glencore’s marketing team applying their skill set to the Rio asset base is exciting,” says David Butler, analyst at Barclays, who also sees tax and debt synergies from a deal.

For Rio investors, iron ore has provided up to 90% of group earnings, but its price is at a five-year low. A merger with Glencore would offer a way to diversify: it is estimated that iron ore would be only 34% of the combined group’s earnings.

Succession planning
Then there is the question of succession planning at Rio. The contract of Sam Walsh, chief executive, is due to expire at the end of 2015, with no replacement identified.

However, there are many reasons for Rio shareholders to question the benefits of a merger with Glencore.

“Rio Tinto generally has top tier assets in safe jurisdictions. Glencore has a more racy portfolio,” says Matthew Hasson of Numis Securities.

Neither would the different company cultures be easy to reconcile. Rio prides itself on its exploration skills – and is full of “geeky engineers”, according to one company insider – whereas Glencore’s trading heritage has fostered a freewheeling esprit de corps, with little appetite for embarking on big mine-building projects. “I would imagine the culture clash between Glencore and Rio to be immense and a major threat to the success of a deal,” says Peter Mallin-Jones, analyst at Canaccord Genuity.

A merger would require not only the blessing of Chinalco – the Chinese aluminium producer that is Rio’s largest shareholder – but also Beijing, which is increasingly taking national interest and industrial policy into account when considering deals.

Rio believes its best course is to maintain what it has tried since Mr Walsh succeeded Tom Albanese last year after the miner’s misjudged investments: spend less shareholders’ money, do so wisely, and give back as much as it can.
More than ever – and even amid the weak iron ore price – the onus is on Rio to deliver an extra return of capital when it reports full-year results in February. Anything else would encourage thoughts about whether a combined GlenTinto could do any better.

“If Rio management does not deliver material capital returns to shareholders, as promised, or if the iron ore price sharply falls next year, Rio could become much more vulnerable to a bid from Glencore, especially if the bid includes a premium,” says Chris LaFemina, analyst at Jefferies. “Rio shareholders are patient, but management mistakes and/or iron ore price weakness can make them impatient.”

(c) 2014 The Financial Times Limited

By James Wilson and Neil Hume, Financial Times

Source: Swissinfo.ch

Will the Swiss net stay neutral after Netflix?

Streaming video market leader Netflix has arrived in Switzerland, raising larger questions about building out bandwidth and keeping the internet a neutral playing field.

Netflix launched its offerings in Switzerland on September 18 (AFP)
Netflix launched its offerings in Switzerland on September 18 (AFP)

Ideally, a Netflix video in HD quality requires five Megabits per second (Mbps) of bandwidth, compared to less than one Mbps for sending an e-mail or two for browsing Facebook. A recent estimate found that 35% of all bandwidth consumed in American households during peak times – between 7 and 11 p.m. – is used by Netflix alone.

That’s made customers demand ever-faster Internet connection speeds, and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have had to build out and improve their networks as a result. In the United States, Netflix has reached agreements with several of the country’s major ISPs to pay them for better access to the bandwidth required to stream its content optimally. Ziggo, a Dutch ISP, recently announced it would seek a similar deal. Advocates of so-called “net neutrality” – a free and open internet for all players – have cried foul, including Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

“Without strong net neutrality, big ISPs can demand potentially escalating fees for the interconnection required to deliver high quality service,” he wrote in a recent blog post. “The big ISPs can make these demands – driving up costs and prices for everyone else – because of their market position.”

Last week, Netflix and several other websites, including Tumblr and Reddit, purposely slowed down their connection speeds to protest the actions of ISPs who charge them for increased broadband access.

So far, the United States’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hasn’t ruled on net neutrality or the practice of ISPs charging companies for access to bandwidth. In Switzerland, no ruling or law has been issued on that, either – although people like telecommunications lawyer and professor Simon Schlauri believe one is needed, based on his research into the issue.

“In my opinion, the signal is clearly that net neutrality will be regulated in some way in the European Union, the question is just how,” he says. “We’re quite a bit behind in Switzerland in that area. The internet service providers are still hoping that the whole thing will go away.”

Swisscom is Switzerland’s largest telecommunications provider and is majority-owned by the Swiss government. Carsten Roetz, spokesperson for Swisscom, tells swissinfo.ch that his company doesn’t believe net neutrality laws are necessary.

“We are against the law because we think there is no need for it, as there’s no discrimination towards internet companies in Switzerland,” he says. “We would treat all operators and service providers equally and don’t block any services – not on the fixed network, and not on the mobile network.”

And, he adds, Swisscom is ready to meet the “challenges” posed by streaming.

“This year we’re investing CHF1.75 billion ($1.86 billion) in our networks to offer more speed and more capacity – fiber networks and ultra-broadband networks,” he says. “It’s a significant investment we have to do because of customer demand. People are asking for higher bandwidth.”

Legal loopholes

Besides the question of necessity, other arguments against a net neutrality law involve the fact that it would undermine free market competition. Plus, some point to the fact that Switzerland has a cartel law – a revision of which failed to pass the House of Representatives earlier this week – which would take care of any issues.

However, Schlauri doesn’t think that’s adequate.

“In the case of some companies, perhaps like Netflix, their market power might be large enough that competition will prevent net neutrality violations. In other words, I could see a case where they’re strong enough against the service providers that the cartel law doesn’t apply or can’t be used.”

And, in cases of small content or application providers, he says, “the cartel law might be applicable, but procedures are cumbersome” and smaller businesses often can’t afford the long, drawn-out legal fight that would be required.

He points to the fact that some telecom providers currently offer their customers free data for services like WhatsApp online messaging as a sort of marketing measure. However, that leaves other, smaller providers of similar services at a disadvantage because customers have to pay for data to access them.

Netflix not worried

At the moment, perhaps because of his company’s size and pull, Hastings told the Swiss media he isn’t worried about any “dirty tricks” by Swiss telecoms, as one journalist put it, that might infringe on net neutrality.

“Such measures are used pretty rarely. In the US there was this issue with [ISP Comcast], but that had more to do with the fact that Netflix has been generating a third of the internet data usage. It will take several years before we’re at that point in Switzerland.”

In the wake of similar streaming video offerings announced by ISPs UPC Cablecom and Swisscom this week, Hastings also discussed his faith in competition and fair play in Switzerland in an interview aired on Swiss public television SRF.

Looking into legislation

That’s not to say the Swiss government has been completely inactive on the net neutrality question. At a governmental level, a roundtable working group has been established consisting of, among others, representatives from the telecom industry, net neutrality advocates, internet companies and experts. Schlauri is also part of the group, which plans to release a report detailing each party’s position on net neutrality by the end of the year. And, a parliamentarian has submitted a motion calling on cabinet to look into the issue, which has passed the House of Representatives but not yet the Senate.

Cabinet is also expected to weigh in on the issue in its upcoming telecommunications report, but Schlauri hopes they will wait to write it until the working group has submitted its findings. He finds it “difficult” that in Switzerland, the majority-government-owned Swisscom has a direct line to parliament and cabinet and could considerably influence their decisions.

“Cabinet hasn’t expressly spoken out against net neutrality but you can sense a certain hesitation, despite the fact that there are laws about it on an EU level and the EU is seriously discussing tightening the law.”

“There is a feeling in Switzerland that we probably won’t need anything similar.”

Netflix in Switzerland

Netflix’s offering in Switzerland launched on September 18. The most basic subscription costs CHF11.90 per month and offerings are available in French and German, but not Italian.

The Swiss Netflix offerings combine those from the French and German markets, with most available in the original language with optional dubbing or subtitles. Currently, some 170 television shows are available, in addition to many movies.

Internet service providers UPC Cablecom and Swisscom have both announced plans to launch similar video streaming offerings.

By Veronica DeVore
Source: Swissinfo.ch

Swatch inventor: Swiss watch industry missed the smartwatch boat

Elmar Mock, co-inventor of the Swatch watch, believes the Swiss watch industry ignores the Apple Watch at its own peril. He sees it repeating the mistakes from the 1970s, when it underestimated competition from Japanese quartz watches.

The Swiss watch industry is unfazed by the Apple Watch. Big mistake (AFP)

Swatch inventor: Swiss watch industry missed the smartwatch boat – In 1970, Elmar Mock invented the Swatch along with Jacques Müller and Ernst Thomke. It was designed as an affordable product that could compete with the cheap Japanese quartz watches that flooded the market. Currently the director of Creaholic, an innovation consultancy, Mock shares his views on the Swiss reluctance to enter into the smartwatch fray.

swissinfo.ch: Many predict the Apple Watch will be as disruptive to the market as the Mac, iPhone or iPad. Do you share this view as well?

Elmar Mock: The big deal is not the Apple Watch itself but the fact that an electronics giant like Apple has entered the watch market. It makes total sense to have a communication tool on the wrist and, in my view, this strategic space has enormous market potential.

The biggest challenge lies in the digital environment and the consumer experience that a smartwatch can offer. There is a lot to learn in this new area but it’s only possible to learn by creating. This is where I think electronics giants like Google, Samsung or Apple are winning the battle.

swissinfo.ch: But are consumers ready for such products that some dismiss as mere gadgets?

EM: The Apple Watch is by far the most attractive of the smartwatches. I would definitely wear it. Don’t forget that the early smartphones did not immediately replace conventional mobile phones. When the iPhone first launched, Blackberry was sure that consumers would notice the lack of a keyboard and Nokia was convinced that the big screen would put users off…

swissinfo.ch: Should the Swiss watch industry fear the smartwatch invasion, as suggested by Apple’s chief designer Jonathan Ive?

EM: Switzerland has already lost the wrist war. Only one of every 200 watches produced [worldwide] is a Swiss watch. However, the profit made on that one Swiss watch is greater than that of the other 199 combined. So, we’ve won the profit war.

Swiss watchmaking has transformed a watch into mechanical jewellery that represents the ingenuity of manual craftsmanship. It has also excelled in design, marketing and communication. Smartwatches are not going to completely replace mechanical watches just like the Kalashnikov assault rifle is not going to make samurai swords any less desirable.

On the other hand, Switzerland has missed a tremendous opportunity and it is shocking that the leaders of the watch industry do not find the smartwatch market a tempting prospect. This market could be worth $30 billion (CHF28 billion), assuming a realistic figure of 100 million smartwatches sold every year. This amount would benefit the entire Swiss watch industry.

swissinfo.ch: Is Nick Hayek, head of the Swatch group, an example of this nonchalant attitude towards smartwatches?

EM: Clearly! It’s understandable why [luxury brands] Breguet, Rolex, Cartier or Patek Philippe are disinterested. Swatch, on the other hand, should be taking a leading a role. Swiss watchmakers seem to have forgotten how they underestimated Japanese quartz watches in the 1970s as mere gadgets and not real watches. That mistake led to the near collapse of the watch industry.

However, through Swatch, we eventually succeeded in creating a stylish quartz watch. But we then failed to follow up and re-conquer the global watch market through investment in industrialisation. Obsessed by short-term gains, the Swatch group did a complete U-turn towards luxury watches. Instead of investing in ideas, the group chose to invest in luxury watch brands and showrooms all over the world.

swissinfo.ch: Does the Swiss watch industry lack diversity?

EM: It is definitely a risk. The industry is beginning to resemble a Native American reservation. It has deliberately refused to be a part of recent changes, not through a lack of creativity or innovation, but due to strategic choice.

Unfortunately, Switzerland lacks a Steve Jobs who can drag the watch industry into the future. It doesn’t necessarily mean the industry is on the wrong path, but it does mean that it has missed the boat as far as smartwatches are concerned

Apple’s smartwatch launched

Presented on Tuesday, Apple’s first-ever smartwatch will be available in stores at the beginning of 2015. At a starting price of $349 (CHF327), the watch comes in two screen sizes with a series of interchangeable straps. It is also equipped with sensors that monitor the wearer’s pulse and activity levels. The Apple Watch will only work with the iPhone.

“It is the next chapter in Apple’s story,” said Apple’s CEO Tim Cook when presenting the watch at the much-anticipated launch in California.

Cook sought to prove that the brand has not lost its ability to innovate since the loss of its legendary founder Steve Jobs in 2011.

By Samuel Jaberg
(Translated from French by Anand Chandrasekhar)

Source: Swissinfo.ch

Alptransit – Engineers meet challenge of Gotthard tunnel

Due to open in 2016, the Gotthard base tunnel is not just a hole through a mountain. For ten years hundreds of workers braved tropical temperatures underground and the threat of water in the rock to build the longest railway tunnel in the world.

About 700 people were working in the tunnel at once. (photo by Alptransit)

Travelling at 250 km/h you will hardly notice them, and if all goes well, they will never be used by railway passengers: Yet the emergency exits in the 57-kilometre tunnel are a little marvel of engineering.

“We had to design doors that can be opened by a child and that at the same time will stop the spread of fire and smoke. They have to work even if there is no electricity, and stand up to the wave of pressure, equal to ten tons, caused by trains going by,” explains Peter Schuster of the engineering firm Ernst Basler+Partner.

Situated every 325 metres, the green sliding doors to the escape routes are the result of careful design. It took five prototypes before they arrived at this kind of structure “ugly to look at and very expensive”, but uniquely suitable. “Even the smallest things tested the creativity of the engineers,” notes Schuster, who together with other specialists presented his work at an information day organised by the Swiss Association of Consulting Engineers in early September.

Safety was priority

The base tunnel of the Gotthard has a system of two one-way tubes, linked by emergency escape routes from one side to the other

One of the first challenges faced by the engineers of the AlpTransit project was to map out a pathway for the tunnel that would be entirely level. But it wasn’t enough just to draw a line between the two portals, points out Fabiana Henke of Ernst Basler+Partner.

“We had to consider various aspects: geological conditions, geographical criteria like the height of the rock covering overhead, which can be up to 2,300 metres thick, and the need to build access tunnels to the work sites.”

They also had to be concerned about dams, something that might not seem to have much to do with an underground tunnel. “We had to avoid the reservoirs on the Gotthard, to limit any chance of water seeping in,” says Henke.

The question then arose of what kind of system to use – a two-way tunnel with another service tunnel, like the Gotthard road tunnel, or three parallel tunnels like in the Channel tunnel? The final choice was a compromise: two one-way tunnels. “It was for safety reasons, most of all, but also because of maintenance, and of course the cost,” says Schuster.

Umbrella in a tunnel

At the time of the first blasting done in 1999, no one could foretell the conditions that would be found deep inside the mountain. It was known that the high temperatures would not make the work of the miners and engineers easy.

Inside the tunnel they measured a high of 45°C, far above the safety limit of 28°C laid down by the Swiss workplace accident insurer.

“We had to build refrigerated areas and ventilation equipment for the workers,” recalls Schuster. Once the tunnel starts operating, the temperature will be able to be kept down using the cooler air carried into the tunnel by the trains passing through.

Another challenge was the presence of water in the rock. One of the trickiest sections was the notorious Piora syncline, an area rich in dolomite where geologists feared they might encounter an expanse of rock filled with water and under high pressure.

This scenario would have spelled the end of the entire project. To the relief of all involved, tests showed that lower down, at the level where the tunnel was going through, the rock was quite dry.

To make the tunnel completely watertight, the engineers decided on an “umbrella” approach, as Henke explains. The vault of the tunnel was covered with a layer of concrete and a waterproof mantle, which allows the water to flow down inside the walls and be channelled out through pipes placed under the railway tracks.

Challenge of a long-term project

The vault of the tunnel was covered with waterproof layers. The double track used during the drilling operations was replaced by a single track later on

“You might say that a tunnel is always a tunnel, whatever its length, and so the final product is always the same,” says Davide Merlini, head of underground works at Pini Swiss Engineers.

But for a tunnel as long as the Gotthard, he points out, the logistical effort needs to be at a much higher level and represents “a project within the project”. In the most intense phase of excavation, about 700 people were working in the tunnel all at once.

One factor complicating things, he goes on, was the sheer length of the project in terms of time. “From the time planning started to when the tunnel was built it took over ten years.” This was a stretch of time in which many things could change, including the technology used.

Some elements already installed had to be replaced before operations began in order to meet increasingly more sophisticated technical requirements, notes Roger Wiederkehr, an engineer with the Pöyry Group who was responsible for the traction current lines in the tunnel.

In the space of a decade, even some of the relevant standards and legislation changed. For example, legislation is now in place requiring a section break in the traction current lines every five kilometres. “It was a safety issue – in case of fire, the whole power line is not damaged, and the train ahead or behind can keep on moving,” explains Wiederkehr.

A model for export

As they wait for June 2, 2016, the target date for the inauguration of the tunnel, the engineers have already “exported” some of the skills they learned in the Gotthard. For example, the Brenner base tunnel between Austria and Italy has now adopted the same double tube system. “Another of the objectives of these major projects is to sell Swiss engineering abroad,” adds Merlini.

The engineers and the mineworkers who built the new Gotthard tunnel are very aware of having achieved a construction feat without precedent.

According to Merlini, “every project has its own beauty, its complexity, and I have the greatest respect for all of them. But for sure, having achieved a gigantic job like this lets us tackle other projects with greater assurance.”

12 billion franc tunnel

The Gotthard base tunnel is 57 km long. The tunnel between Erstfeld and Bodio, linking central with southern Switzerland, is the longest railway tunnel in the world.

About 2,600 people were involved in this construction project. 80% of the excavation work was done by boring machines and 20% by blasting. The cost of the whole operation was CHF12.4 billion ($13.2 billion).

When the tunnel is opened in June 2016, passenger trains will be able to reach a maximum speed of 250km/h (160m/h for goods trains).

When the other major effort of the AlpTransit project, the tunnel under Monte Ceneri, is finished, it will be possible to travel from Zurich to Milan in less than three hours.

Shortage of engineers in Switzerland

“Without engineers, the new transalpine railway would not exist,” says Heinz Marti, president of the Association of Consulting Engineers.

This proud claim is also intended as a warning – in Marti’s view, the profession lacks qualified manpower, and many jobs for engineers are not being filled. The reason is that the engineering profession is not well known among students and the earning prospects do not seem attractive enough compared with the very rigorous period of training.

In an interview with public radio, Marti estimated that about 4,000 jobs come up every year. Of these, 800 have to be filled with engineers from abroad, despite immigration curbs accepted by Swiss voters in February 2014.

A generation of engineers with a lot of experience is now gradually retiring, Marti adds. And even when it is up and running, the Gotthard tunnel will still need engineers.

 

By Luigi Jorio
(Translated from Italian by Terence MacNamee)

Source: Swissinfo.ch

SwissNano – Success in the USA

Tornos, SwissNano, Sardi Innovation, Enrique Luis Sardi, high precision lathe

Actually the machine has already been sold a few time in the US and results seems promising. The first machines were sold to Petron Automation, a Connecticut shop proud owner of the first two SwissNanos in the US.

Tornos, SwissNano, Sardi Innovation, Enrique Luis Sardi, high precision lathe19 new machines

Last November, Petron Automation, Inc. held a ribbon cutting ceremony marking its facility expansion. Tornos CEO, Michael Hauser, was there to witness the event. The company, established 34 years ago, added 9,000 square feet to make room for 19 new machines – more than doubling the company’s capacity in 17,000 square feet total.

SwissNano to reach new markets

“These new machines will help us expand our operations and sales further into electronics, connectors…and micro parts, which we see as having huge growth potential,” says Luis Santolamazza, VP Sales & Marketing. He continues: “Getting the first two SwissNanos in the country, shows our President’s commitment for the latest technology. That has always been part of the strategy here and having these new machines supports the point that we invest very regularly in the newest technology (we turn over our machines every 5 years). It’s important to mention that these first two SwissNanos in the country were proven reliable making precision parts for the watch industry in Switzerland…and the purchase of these machines shows that we are trying to step ahead of technology.”

By Pierre-Yves Kohler

Source: EuroTec

Third story of an enterpreneur by Carlos Dorado

Carlos Dorado, businessman, enterpreneur

One of the other tales that my mother used to tell me was the one about Joselito.

Carlos Dorado, businessman, enterpreneurOne day Joselito went to the seashore and noticed that there were thousands of sea stars deposited there by the waves. Joselito had a strong feeling of sadness when he realized that the low tide was taking place and that in short time all of them would be dead. Without thinking twice, he started collecting them obstinately one by one, and throwing them into the sea. He was running continuously back and forth trying to save them.

A man was looking the whole scene and, after a while, he told to Joselito: “What are you doing? You can’t be so naïve! There are thousands of sea stars and you won’t be able to save them all. Can’t you realize that your efforts aren’t worthwhile?” Joselito looked at him very seriously, bent himself, picked one of the sea stars up with his fingers throwing it into the sea and, looking intensely the gentleman spoke to him: “for that sea star it was worthwhile.”

“Carlos, our work is our health and it is a good remedy for many diseases. In this world, only through hard work and by developing your skills you will be able to become an independent person. These skills will be your biggest treasure.”

Work ennobles man. And every time I feel tired after a long working day, I always think about the farmers of my country that I was able to hear whistling at 5 a.m., even though they were going to do some very tough earth work for the whole day. Now, remembering those scenes, I believe that the art of resting is part of the art of working, and if you smell the after completing a task, they have a different scent.

To establish goals to reach without working is utopia, to work without goals is a hobby. To work having a goal, a target is a utopic hobby, but –sooner or later- it’ll bring you to something! To believe that success is not connected to work is dodger’s dream and, as for everything, big results are fruits of hard work and perseverance, because big ideas are nothing if you don’t work on them and develop them: they remain solely ideas. A genius can start to do big projects, but just working one can complete them and, as my father used to say: “Carlos, you can believe in luck or not. But always remember that, the harder you work, the more lucky you’ll become.” In the end, the things you earn by hard working, you appreciate them way more.

To work with love and passion is the secret to happiness, and there is no work that is despicable, there are only despicable people that are not interested in working. Work is as a sweet that sweetens up your life; but, unfortunately, not everyone loves sweets. People don’t know that laziness consumes more than work; and, if someone tells you that he doesn’t need to work in order to survive, he’ll always need to work in order to stay healthy. When weed starts growing up in someone’s garden, if he doesn’t react, it will be just a matter of time before the weed will overwhelm everything.

I thought about all of this after a concert by Julio Iglesias, who kindly invited me, and where I saw him on stage with the same passion and enthusiasm as always, even though he is almost 71. Julio has a big gift in being able to do the work he does, or maybe the gift is the work? In that moment I remembered Joselito’s story

By Carlos Dorado

Source: Runrun.es

Good examples of Swiss Made

swiss made, quality, precision, girod tast, girod instruments

swiss made, quality, precision, girod tast, girod instrumentsSwiss Made is a registered trademark that denotes products that are made in Switzerland. It is such a value for the manufacturer and the consumer that its designation is regulated, protected and controlled by Swiss law.

The Swiss Made designation has earned a reputation as a warranty of good sustainable products that is built with great precision through centuries of manufacturing quality products in Switzerland. It gives consumers a sort of guarantee about the quality of the goods they are purchasing and manufacturers can further profit in greater sales gained by the high consumer confidence from such a prestigious reputation.

The Swiss Made designation is an asset for Swiss companies to leverage in a competitive marketplace. In today’s global economy, a manufacturer must compete with goods made across the world. In order not only to survive but to be chosen by the customer as the best, the Swiss manufacturer must be competitive in the national and international market as well. This is why it is very important that Swiss Made goods deservingly earned a stellar reputation that is widely recognized and respected worldwide.

Today, Switzerland is regarded as having one of the world’s most powerful and stable economy. This is due to its strong manufacturing base as well unprecedented and continuous high quality that can be dated for hundreds of years. The solid and traditional quality of Swiss Made also contains latest know-how, industrial and scientific. In this way, the Swiss Made goods attract and reach a broad range of interested customers, even those who are ready to pay the ultimate price for such a remarkable product. It’s a win-win business for the Swiss Made goods producers and their customers.

Under the Swiss Made label, Swiss manufacturers have earned a worldwide fame for quality goods with durable reputation. These companies are recognized and accepted in many well-known areas of international industry. In addition to this, they can also surprise us in their visionary way by thinking in creating their own successful business in the market niches or supply professionals with unique products.

One of such company is Duvoisin Guitars SA. It is a Swiss manufacturer located in Neuchatel, Switzerland.  This company may not be known to many but for connoisseurs of electric guitars and basses this brand has world-class prestige. Like the traditional Swiss watchmakers, Duvoisin produces their musical instruments with great precision. They created internal six steps technology’s guide-line in order to achieve the highest quality product. It begins with the wood selection, its cutting and careful aging in the company workshops. Further it continues through the various stages including sound transmission, the geometry of the neck and precision in the positioning of the frets. Finally it finishes with the truss rod and touch markers.  To achieve this outstanding quality, in addition to the internal six steps rule, the company employs high qualified professionals, makes the guitars from exquisite woods as well uses special machine locally developed.  And it is not a surprise that they are testing the suitability of various Swiss’ woods for making instruments. Also since 2007 the company has been manufacturing basses from the Swiss wood. Duvoisin’s electric guitars and basses are produced in full compliance with the principles of Swiss Made goods.

Another example of Swiss Made are products of FELCO, a company which was created in 1945 by Mr. Félix Flisch a legendary, self-taught visionary. To start production of his first pruning shears he bought an old watchmaking factory. If it was just a coincidence, or destiny indicating that his products are so finely crafted as Swiss watches? The truth is that today, FELCO manufactures not only pruning shears unlike any others but offers tremendous assortment of pruning and cutting products to his clients in over 120 countries. The company is based in Les Geneveyes-sur-Coffrane, Switzerland. In the FELCO catalogue customer can find three general products classifications: “Green,” “Industrial” and “Power-assisted” for professional and leisure use. It sounds very simply but behind these three categories are wide range of goods offer to the client. It starts with the “universal cutter” and finish with “pneumatic and electric tools.” FELCO tools are used in various domains. They are widely used in agriculture, automotive industry, civil engineering and aeronautics, telecommunications, fishing and harbour activities as well many others.  The manufacture not only produces excellent tools but also offers accessories and service to maintenance the highest quality and longtime use of their products. When a new product is created the entire design team attention is focused on the smallest detail. The unique quality, perfection in accuracy and execution as well customer pleasure in using the tools are the base of Swiss Made brand.

A New chapter in Swiss Made knives is a cooperation between FELCO and VICTORINOX.
The two Swiss companies using label Swiss Made, proudly marked in a co-branding agreement a “Grafting and Pruning Knife.” The knife is produced by the manufacturer of Swiss knifes Victorinox.

Victorinox has been in business since 1884 and it is probably not always synonymous with cutlery, but it manufactures one of the world’s best-selling pocket knives, the Swiss Army Knife. Since 1891 Victorinox has been supplying officially the Swiss military with these pocket knives that would eventually become the Swiss Army Knife. As Victorinox knives got renowned, Mr.Karl Elsener, the company founder decided in 1909 to distinguish his knives from copies by using the white cross and red shield as company brand. Slowly but strong, the company was recognized for excellent quality production of original knifes and became one of the leaders in manufacturing cutlery.  1978 was a big moment and a huge recognition for the unique Swiss Made quality of Swiss Army Knives when the first time 50 Master Craftsman knives, model # 5044 were purchased by NASA. Nowadays the Swiss Army Knife is part of the standard equipment for the crew on space missions. Company reputation for durability and reliability is second to none extending a lifetime warranty for those who purchase their products. In addition to the well know production of world-class professional and household knifes Victorinox offers pocket tools, timepieces, travel gear and fashion. All these goods represent Swiss Made quality at every stage of their production. They are masterpieces of quality and latest technology with the roots in a revolutionary idea from 1884 of Mr. Karl Elsener.

In such a distinguish company it could not be missed the Girod Instruments, a Swiss manufacturer measuring instruments of superior precision. The company products are noticed for their Swiss Made solid quality and neat appearance. In 2014 the company is celebrating its 50th anniversary of the successful business. The business is located in Court, in the middle of the Swiss Jura, a region which is well-known as a historical base for manufacturing the famous Swiss watches. Be a part of the living watch industry tradition influenced the products of Girod Instruments.

The company develops measuring instruments as well customized products on request. The main area of the business activity of the company is micro-mechanic. A company’s own product the Girod-Tast is a lever indicator. A part of the Swiss Made quality is an outstanding service. That is very much in line with the Girod Instruments philosophy, because the company manages the repairs of the products directly within its own locations.

Swiss Made is a legacy and philosophy for companies, which are located in Switzerland and desired for the highest quality and standard of their products. The companies pay attention to the smallest detail of their product and respect customer’s well-being.
The Swiss Made trademark is most known for the reliability and precision and is always proudly displays on product which meet the requirements.

By Ella Salzmann

Celebrating the Swiss air force: 100 years on

A giant air show is showcasing the 100 years of the Swiss air force and 50th anniversary of its aerobatic squadron, the Patrouille Suisse.

 Swiss Air Force 100 years historyDespite recent setbacks for the Swiss army, the air force continues to fascinate and enthrall the Swiss public, with 160,000 visitors to the Air14 show at its first weekend in the western Swiss town of Payerne. The show runs for nine days.

The Swiss air force has not had an easy time of things recently. In 2006, for the first time in its history, parliament rejected the military’s arms procurement programme in a row over the acquisition of two air transporters. In May this year, Swiss voters refused the purchase of Swedish Gripen fighter jets, in a major defeat for the government.

But there is little doubt that the Swiss are proud of their military history, as the turnout for Air14 seems to show. This highlights included displays by the first Swiss plane, the Blériot XI-2, helicopters through the ages from the Alouette II to the Cougar, and a close formation show involving the Swiss aerobatic squadron, Patrouille Suisse and a Swiss International Airlines Airbus A330.

 
Source: Swissinfo

Private banks open up to new era of transparency

Private banks open up to new era of transparency (photo - Keystone)Pictet, the venerable Swiss private bank, used to take discretion to extremes: the brass plate on its Geneva HQ once bore the simple legend ‘P & Co’. The publication of its financial results for the first time in its 209-year-old history is indicative of the changing times for Swiss private banking.

 
George Washington was President of the United States when Lombard Odier was established in 1796, but Uncle Sam’s recent prosecution of tax evaders has forced this notoriously discreet institution to also open its books to public gaze this week in an overt show of transparency.

 
Both institutions have also changed their corporate structure to limit the personal liability of partners – a once-vital calling card of trust and stability – along with Mirabaud and La Roche.

 
In fact, the entire Swiss private banking sector has been swept along by a tide of change, powered by the financial crisis, plunging stock markets, rock bottom interest rates and the global crusade against tax evasion that destroyed Wegelin and humiliated UBS and Credit Suisse.

 
Problems mount
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Switzerland, some CHF600 billion ($650 billion) of client assets under management have gone up in smoke since 2008, with foreign customers withdrawing CHF350 billion more assets than they deposited during this period.

 
Some banks have shut their doors or have been taken over by rivals and PwC predicts that up to 25% of those that still exist could soon be forced into extinction.

 
A recent report by KPMG and the University of St Gallen found that a third of private banks they surveyed made a loss last year, due in good measure to the CHF900 million they have been forced to put aside to cover potential tax evasion writs.

 
According to PwC, Swiss banks provided sanctuary for some CHF800 billion in untaxed money in 2008 – two thirds of all the foreign assets that they housed. That figure has now been reduced to an estimated CHF200 billion, but for many banks the legal problems have yet to be resolved.

 
Although they deny that tax evasion problems have driven their decisions to change, Pictet and Lombard Odier clearly believe that the time is ripe to shed their old clothes and adopt new strategies to match the modern era.

 
New beginnings
But what should the new model look like and which banks will succeed and which will fail? Finding a precise answer to those questions remains as easy as looking into a crystal ball that has not been dusted for many years.

 
The regulatory landscape is still unfolding, the tax evasion issue has yet to be fully resolved and nobody knows when stock markets, particularly in Western Europe, will finally recover.

 
One key to survival is working out how to tap into the new wealth creation markets such as Asia, according to Martin Schilling, head of corporate finance and financial services at PwC Switzerland. “Banks cannot afford to sit back any more and wait for the assets to come to them. They have to learn to actively go to the best markets,” he said.

 
“But they cannot just unroll the Swiss private banking tradition everywhere. It is simply not the case that one model fits all. Banks have to identify their particular areas of expertise and adapt them.”

 
As a rule of thumb, size does matter, according to both PwC and the KPMG-University of St Gallen reports. The cost of meeting new regulatory standards, for example, will hit smaller banks hardest with ample evidence of the minnows already struggling to make ends meet in the light of new demands on their stretched finances.

 
But Schilling remains convinced that the traditional unlimited liability partnership model, still practiced by a dwindling number of smaller Swiss banks, can still in some cases find a way to survive.

 
“The current pressures do not necessarily spell the end of traditional Swiss private bankers, but they will have to adapt to survive,” he said. “A more personal service, where the client is recognised as a person rather than a number, still carries a lot of appeal.”
“But it is not enough to service new generations of wealthy families in the same way as in the past. A bank may have looked after the assets of several previous generations, but the new family members will expect access to the latest digital banking solutions.”

 
Signs of hope
PwC is actually fairly upbeat about the prospects for the surviving members of the Swiss private banking scene and the country’s status as a global industry leader. Its ‘Private Banking Switzerland: from Yesterday to the Day after Tomorrow’ report predicts future healthier profits once financial order is restored around the world.

 
Whilst the KPMG/University of St Gallen report states that 36% of private banks were loss-making last year, PwC calculates that this figure shrinks to 16% once the one-off US tax evasion fines are taken out of the equation.

 
Indeed, some are actually benefiting from the problems of other banks. Pictet reported that their “main source of new business” at present is clients transferring their assets from failing Swiss banks.

 
The Swiss industry has seen the worst of the reputational tax evasion damage that afflicted it over the last six years, said Martin Schilling, whilst its image of high quality private banking experience and know-how remains intact.

 
“Singapore’s wealth management industry may be growing at a faster rate, but talk that it will overtake Switzerland in three years is overstated,” he told swissinfo.ch. “It will probably take economies in Western Europe some time yet to recover, but when they do, Swiss banks will be ready to take advantage.”

 
By Matthew Allen

Source: Swissinfo

Swiss dairy exports profit from Russian embargo

Dutch Gouda, Italian Parmesan and other cheeses have been banned from Russian supermarkets. Swiss cheeses are filling some of the gaps.

CheeseOn the shelves of Moscow’s supermarkets, European cheeses have begun to thin out. Swiss production however isn’t enough to fill the gap, and a mountain of paperwork is in the way. It’s not easy to get a foothold in Russia.

The Margot cheese warehouse in Yverdon is one company impacted. It isn’t as well as known as other Swiss brands, but the company is the number one Swiss exporter to Russia. Since the European embargo, orders have tripled.

While Europeans accuse Switzerland of exploiting the embargo, Swiss companies are asking for more clarity from the Swiss authorities.

A good share of the market is there for the taking, although it is still a niche market catering to the wealthiest Russians. European products, sold at €2 a kilogram, are much cheaper than Swiss ones.

Switzerland has refrained from imposing full sanctions on Russia in line the EU. It plans to tighten restrictions on the export of war materiel to Russia and Ukraine and to take additional measures to ensure that Switzerland is not used as a hub to sidestep sanctions put in place by the EU.

The economics ministry has been asked to prepare a set of measures to be approved by the government. The restrictions on Swiss weapons exports to Russia and Ukraine are to be extended to include special goods, including products used for both military and civilian purposes.

Source: Swissinfo

The sponge that can fight oil pollution

A new kind of sponge being developed in Switzerland could help contain future oil spills. Researchers at the Empa materials testing lab have created the sponge by modifying the chemical properties of nanocellulose in order to absorb mineral oils.

 
SpongeEmpa researchers Tanja Zimmermann and Philippe Tingaut, in collaboration with Gilles Sèbe from the University of Bordeaux, have succeeded in developing a highly absorbent material which separates oil from water. Once soaked it can be easily recovered. The sponge is produced in an environmentally friendly manner from recycled paper, wood or agricultural by-products.

 
Made of nanocellulose, laboratory tests show how the sponge can absorb mineral oil up to 50 times its own weight. The absorbent material keeps its own shape to an extent that it can be easily removed from the water for further recycling and disposal. The researchers are seeking partners from industry to fine-tune the effectiveness and to encourage its use in real world scenarios like the tackling of oil spill disasters.

 
Empa – the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research – is an interdisciplinary institution for material sciences and technology. It is part of the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ).

 
Source: Swissinfo

Reaction to the Google-Novartis contact lens deal

Novartis-Google
Novartis-Google smart lenses (photography Novartis/Google)

Will Google and Swiss drugmaker Novartis’ new “smart” contact lenses make medical history? The jury’s still out.
The Google-Novartis venture is the first such deal between Big Tech and Big Pharma.
First revealed as a Google prototype in January, the announcement that the two giants are teaming up is a major step forward for the project. The firms claim the lens will help diabetics track their blood sugar levels by measuring the level of glucose in the wearer’s tears. This information can be communicated to a mobile phone or computer.

The companies also plan to work on a version of the lens adapted for people who can no longer read without glasses. The device uses a tiny wireless chip and miniaturised glucose sensors embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. In a video, Brian Otis from the Google’s secretive X Lab explained to Associated Press how it would work. Novartis said in a statement that the technology had “the potential to transform eye care”.
The next steps are unclear but Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez told the Financial Times he would be “disappointed” if the first lens was not ready to be marketed by 2019. He has refused to reveal the financial details of the deal.  Wearable technology is a huge growth sector with many companies developing healthcare applications. Jimenez estimated the market for wearable health devices could be worth $10-$50 billion (CHF9-13 billion) within the next decade.

 
Analysts told the New York Times that the pharmaceutical and health care sectors were crucial targets as people increasingly take greater control of their own medical treatment. The Wall Street Journal said experts thought the new deal made sense for both Novartis and Google, especially given Novartis’ dominant presence in the eye-care market through its Alcon unit.
According to the International Diabetes Federation, one in ten people from around the world are expected to have diabetes by 2035.

In a related development, the lens co-creator Babek Parviz, the former head of Google Glass who worked for the secretive Google X Lab, announced this week he is leaving Google for Amazon.

By Simon Bradley

Source: swissinfo.ch

Is there any affordable art at Art Basel?

Art Basel is home to big names and original works of art (Keystone)
Art Basel is home to big names and original works of art (Keystone)

An Andy Warhol self-portrait for more than $30 million, or an inflatable dolphin by Jeff Koons for $5 million? While the sale of these works at Art Basel grab the headlines, swissinfo.ch found many original works of art for under CHF5,000 ($5,603).


Many galleries the world over use Basel as a launching pad for young artists at entry level prices, since art fairs are often the only chance for exposure outside their home countries. They flock to Art Basel, and its four satellite fairs, Liste, Scope, Solo Project and Volta.

Given the faraway places from which many galleries come, geopolitics remain surprisingly present, even in art.

Art Basel

The photographs of Swiss duo Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs are selling for CHF4,800. Their latest work is presented by RaebervonStenglin, a young Zurich gallery, in the highly selective Art Basel Statements 2014.

Considered one of the most inventive teams in contemporary photography, Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs present a series of analogous photographs from their road trips that have been spliced together to produce imaginary settings.

At Galeria OMR from Mexico City, 10 original pieces by established artists David Moreno, Julieta Aranda and Ryan Brown all sell for less than CHF 5,000.

Galeria OMR, one of Mexico’s most prestigious galleries, has been coming to Art Basel for 15 years. “It takes us six months to prepare our display,” said gallery director, Kerstin Erdmann and it shows. Although there have been changes every day because sales during the preview days were brisk, the stand retains a harmony not unlike walking into someone’s home.

Volta

“It’s a gamble for everyone,” said Budapest eponymous gallery owner Erika Deak. She presents three of her artists at Volta, the fair that can be qualified as one down from the official Art Basel. And yet she is showcasing several striking works for less than the targeted price. “The problem is that we are situated in Hungary.”

She explained that there is a lot of new wealth in her homeland, but not in the hands of real art connoisseurs, who tend to come from the left and not to belong to the present rightist government. “But I cannot have different prices when I present my artists abroad,” she said.

Deak admits that she has become more conservative in her tastes over the years: “I get tired of art that requires a lot of information to be understood.” She is looking for art that moves her, “that changes my life for five minutes and remains meaningful for a long, long time”.

Art fairs are important, she said, because they are not just about selling, they are also about putting artists in front of curators.

International 3, a gallery in Salford, across the river from Manchester, operates on a different level, but with similar goals. Co-director Paulette Terry Brien said that she and her gallery partner attend ‘degree shows’ to identify graduating students that they can assist on their career paths.

“You get rewarded from buying early on, for taking chances,” she insisted.

Liste

“You’re forced to go global,” Daria Pervain confirms. As principal of Sabot, a not-for-profit gallery at the heart of Transylvania, in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, she does the rounds of international art fairs to expose her artists.

Because there are no collectors in her home country, where art was used as a means of propaganda by the former Communist regime, she is an art Pygmalion who has secured premises in a former paint brush factory for local artists.

Scope

Hans Alf, from Copenhagen, who made a fortune in the IT business, makes no bones about being an art merchant whose purpose is to sell: “What do people buy once they have their car and their kitchen, they buy art,” he observed. “My clients start at CHF1,000 and stay with me. I never sell them just one piece.”

Alf vindicates his taste for craftsmanship. “Ideas disappear, but craftsmanship doesn’t,” which in his view explains the success of the gallery that bears his name. The fact that Denmark did not adopt the euro and that the Danish krone is strong has also helped.

“At the end of the day, art is not God’s desire: it’s a product, but it’s a way for people to make a statement and be different, even when they have the same kitchens.”

Also at Scope, London-based Janet Rady specializes in art from the Middle East. As is often the case in international fairs, she presents artists who are widely recognized in their own countries but are completely unknown abroad. She therefore has the difficult task of reconciling the expectations of two opposing markets, pricing the works modestly to pierce the western market, but without damaging the expectations of the artists at home.

Solo Project

The two young owners of Gallery M2A from Dresden, Marko Göhre and Andreas Jenke, present high quality work that still comes out of the schools set up in the former East Germany: painting from Dresden (where Gerhard Richter was trained) and graphic design from Leipzig.

“There is a pool of artists from a rich artistic tradition from which we can choose,” they indicated. Most of the works they expose sell for less than CHF1,000.

It is a sign of the times that many of the galleries present at Liste call themselves ‘projects’ and invite artists to give performances as well. Many can still be seen for free, but there is talk that they too will become collectors’ items. Right now, they’re still going for a song.

 

by Michèle Laird
Soure: swissinfo.ch

The other Art Basel

Pipilotti Rist and her work Lobe of the lung (Keystone)
Pipilotti Rist and her work Lobe of the lung (Keystone)

As the art world revs up for the 45th edition of Art Basel in Switzerland, swissinfo.ch looks beyond the usual fare of paintings and sculptures and explores why so many top galleries are now presenting films by artists.

Video art has been around since the late 1960s when pioneers Nam June Paik and Bruce Nauman were the first to use the moving image as part of their art installations. In the 1970s, American artist Bill Viola began using videos as standalone works of art.
And now, younger artists are giving video art a new life. They belong to a generation that has been milk-fed on MTV, brought up in an image-driven world and that is digitally savvy. (It has been whispered that their next stop will be post-internet art, made with and for the Web in mind.)

As early as 1999, Art Basel set up a film section in recognition of the moving image’s role in contemporary iconography. The strategic move was also made to cater to an up and coming generation of collectors who relate strongly to time-based media, the name given to video, film, audio and computer-based technologies.

Art Basel’s film section, which concentrates on single-screen projections, is now included in each of its three geographical editions – Basel, Miami and Hong Kong – but the choice of curators with distinctive cultural sensibilities for each location gives the events very different flavours.

Three different Art Basels

For Miami Art Basel in December, David Gryn, director of London’s Artprojx, creates entertaining events that can compete with the glitterati razzmatazz that Miami generates. Projections take place outdoors, whereas in Hong Kong and Basel, they are generally organised in movie houses, away from the commotion.

Hong Kong curator Li Zhenhua, who lives between Zurich and Beijing, is a recognised artist, producer and curator of media art, an umbrella term for art experiments conducted with new technologies, also known as digital art.

“Most artists born after the Seventies in China engaged in social issues and in media. Media art was a way for us to explain how we perceive the future. There has however been a change in the last five years and media artists now want to be referred to as contemporary artists,” he pointed out. Li Zhenhua’s selection of 41 artists was made to appeal to local audiences as well.

In Basel, the curator for the past seven years is Berlin film scholar Marc Glöde, in association with collector This Brunner. As an intellectual who analyses the impact of moving images, Glöde’s preference leans towards films that are complex.

He explained to swissinfo.ch that one of his criteria for selecting films by artists is the potential for irritation. “When I was living in the States, the idea of irritation became something I was more and more interested in,” he said laconically, adding: “While people were referring to irritation as something negative, to me it was something that kept me thinking. My capacity to be surprised is intact when I don’t relax.”

The German curator recognises a new energy in his field of expertise. “Artists were always trying to overcome the restrictions of the screen. With beamers, images can be projected more or less anywhere.”

In a demonstration of technical wizardry made possible by beamers, pioneer Bill Viola, who has been working in video for more than 40 years, enhances the architecture of Bern’s cathedral and the Kunstmuseum Bern with his powerful imagery.
Glöde also described how a younger generation of artists that has grown up with an everyday experience of the moving image has been increasingly stimulated by the production of art films.

One such artist is Ryan Trecartin. Hailed as a voice of his times, 33-year-old Trecartin, along with his accomplice Lizzie Fitch, transforms candy-coloured images of their camp friends into a riotous kaleidoscope.

Not surprisingly for an artist of his age, he makes his videos available on Vimeo. By doing so, he is upending the traditional business model of art galleries and has provoked a split with his own.

 
The role of galleries

Time-based media has never been an easy sell, and yet it is becoming more popular. Art fairs therefore remain the best opportunities for galleries to present their artists. Although a few galleries take part in all three editions of Art Basel, they never present the same artists in two locations.

Hauser & Wirth, the cutting-edge Swiss gallery with outposts in London and New York, presented in Hong Kong the endearing ‘action sculptures’ of Swiss artist Roman Signer, but in Basel will be showing the startling Sterling Ruby and spiritually absorbed Rashid Johnson.

Moving image art has been around for a long time and has always found its place in the selling repertoire of galleries, Hauser & Wirth Executive Director Florian Berktold told swissinfo.ch.

“What has changed a lot in the last five years are the technical possibilities: the enhanced infrastructure in terms of image quality, size of cameras, editing on a laptop, sound engineering on the iPhone and advanced technical standards,” he said.

Berktold cited as examples the hugely complex film with elaborate acoustic features presented by Anri Sala for the French Pavilion at last year’s Venice art Biennale or the recent 11-part multi-channel music and video performance piece by Peruvian artist David Zink Yi.

He pointed out another important development in the last ten years: the availability of resources in major collections and private institutions to deal with the preservation of time-based media. There are even video restoration classes at university level.

 
Art films or film as art

For more than 50 years, the use of moving images in art has been primarily conceptual or used within performances or installations. The ground-breaking Schaulager in Basel has presented in succession four artists of worldwide stature who blend the genres, all of them men: Matthew Barney, Francis Alÿs, Steve McQueen and Paul Chan.

Notwithstanding Switzerland’s Pipilotti Rist, and Gillian Wearing from Britain, there have been very few women video artists.

But in a screen-obsessed environment, artists are inventing new ways to look at the world and for two years running, in 2012 and 2013, the prestigious Turner Prize has gone to women. British Elizabeth Price creates works that take video art to a new dimension. Her elaborate montages are voluptuous in form, content and meaning. They take more than a year to make and she says, interestingly, that they are never finished.

French Laure Prouvost won the prize in 2013 with an installation entitled Wantee. At the core of her work is making art an experience, like the feeling of the sun on skin, the subject of one of her latest videos.

Perhaps time-based media is acquiring a sensorial status it did not have before. Something for the Art Basel film curators to consider.

 

By Michèle Laird
Source: Swissinfo

The valley at the heart of the watchmaking boom

A nature lover’s paradise and home to the Swiss luxury watch industry (swissinfo)

The Joux Valley in northwest Switzerland, the cradle of high-end watchmaking, now generates more jobs than the number of local residents. swissinfo.ch explores the little-known outerlying region whose economic success is assured by French labour.

From the sleepy town of Vallorbe the small Joux Valley train winds its way through picturesque pastures, stopping off at hamlets from another age. Each side of the valley is covered by dense banks of conifers. Sitting at around 1,000 metres altitude at the far western corner of canton Vaud, this remote region is also known as the Vaud Siberia for its harsh winters.

At the end of the small Joux Lake, the commune of Chenit is the centre of the region’s industrial activity. Here well-known luxury watch firms like Audemars Piguet, Jaeger LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Breguet, Blancpain, Patek Philippe and Breguet have set up workshops to produce or assemble watches.

4,000 cross-border workers

Welcome to the home of the Swiss watch industry. Here the gross domestic product per inhabitant was registered at over CHF100,000 ($114,000) in 2006 – the equivalent of canton Zurich.

“We are one of the five most dynamic regions in Switzerland,” proudly declared Eric Duruz, head of economic promotion for the Joux Valley.

The boom in the Swiss watch industry – a record CHF22 billion in exports in 2013 – driven by emerging markets’ taste for luxury products has had a huge impact on the region. The value of production has tripled in a decade and over CHF100 million have been invested locally.

Around 7,000 people now work in the Joux Valley, compared with 5,400 in 2007, while there are only 6,600 residents, including children and pensioners.

The watch firms are obliged to attract workers from abroad to keep business ticking over. Most cross-border workers live just five kilometres away in neighbouring France and some 4,000 commute to work in the valley every day.

“Real” and “false” cross-border workers

“The new cross-border workers come from much further afield, from Brittany, Bordeaux or even the south of France. It’s easier to get someone to come from Paris than from the Lake Geneva region. The Marchairuz and Mollendruz passes [in the Swiss Jura hills] are almost like insurmountable psychological barriers,” said Chenit mayor Jeannine Rainaud-Meylan.

Duruz is convinced the valley’s healthy economic development also benefits the neighbouring Franche-Comté region in France. Complaints from French mayors about Swiss firms “pillaging” their technical colleges are a thing of the past.

“All these workers who earn a good living in Switzerland are keeping this entire outlying French region alive,” he added.

Although the coexistence between locals and longstanding cross-border workers is fairly harmonious, the newer ones are not viewed so favourably.

“As they go home every weekend their involvement in local life is inexistent. The only thing they are interested in is the monthly Swiss salary which is two or three times higher,” complained two French cross-border workers from the Franche-Comté in front of their Swiss watch firm.

At the same time, the Joux Valley residents have not been forgotten by the watchmaking firms, said Rainaud-Meylan. Unemployment stands at only 2% and the Chenit mayor says she has heard of very few cases of salary dumping in the region.

Pressure on salaries

In his offices at Le Sentier, union official Noé Pelet from Unia is more circumspect: “Sure, apart from firms that don’t have collective wage bargaining accords, you can’t really talk about salaries being undercut. But having Swiss and cross-border workers competing for jobs leads to tremendous pressure on wages.”

Pelet highlights the example of workers with over ten years’ experience who earn less than CHF4,000 per month, while “some watch firms have turnovers of CHF1 million per employee”.

On February 9 residents of Joux Valley turned down the rightwing Swiss People’s Party’s initiative to curb immigration and reintroduce quotas for foreigners. While he agrees with those who voted in favour, Duruz said the economic development of the region must be better controlled, reducing the problems as far as possible.

Fleet of French cars

The most evident problem concerns the transport situation. Many locals complain about the twice daily streams of cars carrying cross-border workers that clog up the narrow valley roads. In response the local authorities and firms have tried to improve things by creating car-sharing and bus schemes. The cross-border train between Pontarlier and Vallorbe was also relaunched last year.

“But it’s difficult to change people’s habits,” said the Chenit mayor.

The actual consequences of the anti-immigration vote remain unclear, but they are a source of anxiety for many local employers.

“It’s a shame that working conditions will deteriorate, especially at a time when everything is going so well,” said Duruz.

At Unia half of all members are cross-border workers.

“Our members are not too worried. They know perfectly well that the big watch companies will ask for worker quotas and get them. But this vote won’t improve the working conditions, neither will it help redistribute the fruits of the watch industry growth,” said Pelet.

“Watchmaking monoculture”

In the Joux Valley people are clearly delighted that the villages of Le Brassus or Le Sentier [which merged to form the commune Chenit] are now known by watch fans in places like China and Japan, but the enthusiasm stops there. The watch industry crisis of the 1970s, which hit the region hard and led to the exodus of 2,000 residents, is still in the back of many people’s minds.

But it’s difficult to avoid this “watchmaking monoculture”, said Rainaud-Meylan: “We tried to set up an industrial zone to attract small and medium-sized firms from other sectors. But all those that set up here are linked in some way to the watch industry, attracted by the presence of the major brands.”

Other more critical voices can be heard denouncing the “miracle claptrap” and the huge amount of money invested in communication and the exploitation of the Swiss-made label to the detriment of overall quality.

“The annual results of the big watch firms are dictating the direction and the manufacturing processes come second,” said Vincent Jaton, director of the Joux Valley Museum of Watchmaking . “A growing number of consumers are unhappy with these products sold for several tens of thousands of Swiss francs which really do not meet expectations.”

A watchmaking expert from the region echoed this: “When foreign visitors arrive they are only shown around the part of the factory where people still work by hand. On the other side it’s total industrialization with workers on a production line repeating the same gestures all day long. By continuing like this these firms are taking a great risk for the region and for the entire Swiss watchmaking industry.”

By Samuel Jaberg (translated from French by Simon Bradley)

Source: Swissinfo.ch

 

Billionaire dealmaker anchored in cement pours heart into wines

Billionaire and Holcim Ltd. shareholder Thomas Schmidheiny gestures during an interview (Photographer-Philipp Schmidli-Bloomberg)
Billionaire and Holcim Ltd. shareholder Thomas Schmidheiny gestures during an interview (Photographer-Philipp Schmidli-Bloomberg)

Thomas Schmidheiny inherited a cement company from his father that’s poised to become the world’s biggest. Yet what really excites the Swiss billionaire is a wine sideline with sales of about 0.1 percent of the cement revenue.

“If I could come back in my next life, it would be as a winemaker,” Schmidheiny said over coffee at Heerbrugg, his 12- acre vineyard that tumbles down the verdant hills flanking the Rhine where Switzerland and Austria meet.

Schmidheiny, 68, joined the family company at a Mexican subsidiary in 1970, became CEO of Holcim Ltd. in 1978, and inherited his father’s share in the business in 1984.

Since then, he has built Holcim, in which he’s the largest investor, into a global leader while increasing his wealth to $6.8 billion. Last month, Holcim and Lafarge SA announced a merger that would create the world’s No. 1 cement producer, with sales of $44 billion.

Schmidheiny has worked similar magic with his vineyards, albeit on far smaller scale. Using profits from his cement fortune, Switzerland’s fourth-richest person has created wine operations that span four continents. And though wine is his passion, he’s also a lifelong entrepreneur with little interest in running a business at a loss.

“I have a philosophy that the investments we make have to be profitable,” Schmidheiny said. “We have very few that are, in the long run, not profitable, and it’s the same with the wine.”

Cheval Blanc

As a bonus, the vineyards have helped him forge relationships with executives involved in the cement merger: Albert Frere, the largest shareholder in Lafarge, is part-owner of Cheval Blanc, a renowned vineyard in Bordeaux’s Saint-Emilion region. And Wolfgang Reitzle, the Holcim chairman who will oversee the merger, makes wine in Tuscany.

Schmidheiny’s family has as much of a history in wine as it does in cement. His grandfather founded a vine growers’ cooperative and his dad started making wine on the family’s Heerbrugg estate, where Schmidheiny remembers watching the grapes come in when he was a child.

“I grew up with the vineyard,” Schmidheiny said on a tour of the estate that’s home to the three-story white house he was born in, and where the heads of stags from his father’s hunting trips are still mounted at the entrance.

In 1979, Schmidheiny’s mother suggested investing in winemaking overseas, and the family bought the Cuvaison vineyard in California’s Napa Valley. The family later purchased Brandlin, a vineyard in the nearby Mount Veeder appellation known for its hearty cabernets. The wineries produced $11 million in sales last year, buoyed by premium labels.

Wine Lake

Though it took six years before the project produced a reliable cash stream, Schmidheiny said it’s now profitable. He produced 40,000 cases from 494 acres in California last year, with labels including Cuvaison Estate pinot noir at $38 a bottle.

His Australian venture, Chapel Hill near Adelaide, is still finding its legs. He says he overpaid for the winery when he bought it in 2000, just before overplanting in Australia led to what Schmidheiny calls “a lake of grapes.”

That “pushed prices down, and we were a victim,” Schmidheiny said. “But now it’s doing reasonably well in a difficult market. The lake is going down.”

Schmidheiny’s Australian sales totaled $6.2 million last year from 41,000 cases. Wines range from a sangiovese rose priced at about $14 a bottle to a cabernet sauvignon at $70. While the Australian operation is small, he said, it’s a challenge to oversee.

Motorcycle Trip

“For two day’s work, it’s a week’s travel,” Schmidheiny said. “We are not very happy about the results, but we are happy about the quality of the wine.”

Schmidheiny speaks most enthusiastically of his vineyard in Argentina. On a trip to South America 15 years ago, he traveled from Chile to Argentina by motorcycle and fell in love with the Andes foothills around Mendoza, Argentina’s premium wine region. He told his family office to buy land — a bare patch of hillside that he named Decero, or Spanish for “from scratch.”

“It’s the only place I know where you are the total master of your destiny,” he said of the vineyard.

The first vintage — reds made with Argentina’s signature malbec grape as well as cabernet sauvignon — came to market in 2008. Last year it sold 26,500 cases for about $2 million, and Schmidheiny says the venture “looks quite promising.”

Concrete Blocks

Despite his love of wine, Schmidheiny says he’s not looking for more “terroir” in another country. The merger of Holcim and Lafarge, he said, takes up most of his time.

He also says it’s unlikely another Schmidheiny will lead Holcim, though one of his four children might take over the vineyards. Among them is a son who co-founded Berlin-based film distributor DCM and a daughter who is building a brewery in Latin America.

“I believe we shouldn’t tie concrete blocks around the new generation,” he said. “The wine business, I can imagine someone will take care of. Cement is different.”

by: Patrick Winters

source: Bloomberg

 

Design event of the year – awards ceremony of the iF design awards 2014

IF design awards winners
The most prestigious designers and companies were awarded that night.

Marking the 61st iF design awards, a total of 75 iF gold awards in all three iF design awards were presented tonight at BMW Welt in Munich. iF CEO Ralph Wiegmann hosted the ceremony in BMW’s spectacular architecture and presented the 75 happy winners with their coveted trophies designed by Herbert H. Schultes. After the glamorous ceremony, some 2,000 guests from the areas of design, business, culture, politics and the media enjoyed a relaxed get-together.

This year’s iF design awards saw a total of 4,615 entries. Consisting of international design experts from various areas, the jury recognized 1,626 entries with the iF label: 1,220 in the iF product design award 2014, 311 in the iF communication design award 2014 and 95 in the iF packaging design award 2014. Participants from 55 countries competed in the awards.

enrique luis sardi, enrico if product design award 2014, winner, tornos, swissnano designer, sardi innovation, miss
The entrepreneur and designer Enrique Luis Sardi with Miss Moldavia

Once more, the prestigious iF design awards night took place during Munich Creative Business Week (MCBW), which offered a top-class programme featuring important themes in design.

Fuji, Olimpus, Tornos, BMW, HTC were just a few big names awarded by their design quality, degree of innovation and brand value.

Source: IF Design Award

Swiss Plastics: Industry under one roof

New umbrella brand SwissPlastics (Photo: SwissPlastics)
New umbrella brand SwissPlastics (Photo: SwissPlastics)

The key players in the Swiss plastics industry have decided to pool their resources under the umbrella brand “Swiss Plastics”. The plastics trade association (www.swiss-plastics.ch), the association’s magazine, the trade fair and the further training centres officially launched the network on 20 January 2014 at a symposium in Lucerne / Switzerland.

According to the relevant news release, the network will provide the Swiss plastics industry with a new platform on which it will be able to present itself more effectively worldwide. In addition, the publication of an innovation report and foreign trade shows are also planned. In 2012, the Swiss plastics industry – which consists of 828 companies with a total workforce of 34,353 – posted sales of nearly CHF 15 bn (EUR 12.2 bn), which is equivalent to 2.5% of Swiss GDP.

The president of the newly founded association is Doris Fiala, a member of the Swiss National Council for Zurich who already heads the plastics federation. Its vice president is Albert Schwarzenbach, a member of the Lucerne city council. The other members of the board are Jürg de Pietro, managing director of the Katz plastics training and technology centre, and Kurt Röschli, who is in charge of marketing and communications in the – Swiss Plastics association.

 

German version of this article – Deutsch-version dieses artikels

 

Source: Plasteurope

St. Gallen geothermal power project abandoned

St Gallen geothermal power project
St Gallen geothermal power project

A plan in eastern Switzerland to supply geothermal electricity from underground heat has been axed. The city of St Gallen said there was not enough hot water to continue a project to build a power station using the renewable energy resource.

Officials on Wednesday said the risks of further, small-scale earthquakes and financial issues had contributed to the decision.

Drilling work at the site outside St Gallen has been on hold since July 2013 when a tremor, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale shook the earth. The borehole was later sealed.

The authorities are however considering drilling for possible gas supplies in the region.

Voters in 2010 gave the green light for the geothermal project, including the extension of a grid for community heating to the tune of CHF160 million ($180 million). The federal authorities also paid CHF19 million.

A similar geothermal project was called off in the northern city of Basel in 2009 following a series of earthquakes.

The Federal Energy Office said last year that the potential for geothermal electricity production in Switzerland was very high, but it warned of uncertainties due to costs and the feasibility of getting such projects off the ground.

 

Soure: Swissinfo.ch

Swiss tech group Kudelski targets Apple

The technology group’s headquarters are in western Switzerland (Keystone)

Technology group Kudelski has said that its OpenTV and Nagravision subsidiaries have filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc in a court in northern California, alleging the iPhone maker has infringed five United States patents.
The lawsuit identifies iOS mobile devices, Apple TV, App Store, iTunes, iADS, Safari and OS X-based personal computers as infringing the patents owned by OpenTV and Nagravision, the company said in a statement released on Wednesday evening.

Kudelski – based in Cheseaux-sur-Lausanne in the French-speaking part of Switzerland – did not give further details about the patent suit. Its founder, the late Stefan Kudelski, invented the Nagra – the first portable professional sound recorder. The Nagra audio unit has since been spun off. Polish-born Kudelski died in 2013 and the company is now run by his son, André.

Apple was not immediately available for comment.

California-based OpenTV provides software technology for interactive and digital television, including video-on-demand and advanced programme guides, while Nagravision develops security technologies for digital media.
Kudelski describes itself as a “world leader in digital security” and holds more than 4,000 issued and pending patents worldwide.

It is not the first time that the Swiss company has used legal means to defend its patents. In February 2014 it resolved litigation and signed a multi-year cross-licence patent agreement with Cisco Systems.

Computer giant Apple, meanwhile, is currently faced with numerous patent complaints. Its long court dispute involving South Korean arch rival Samsung is ongoing.

 

Source: Swissinfo.ch

‘Alien’ creator H.R. Giger is dead

Giger’s so-called biomechanoids represent a large share of his work (Keystone)

The renowned Swiss artist H.R. Giger has died at the age of 74, as a result of injuries sustained in a fall. Giger, who passed away in a Zurich hospital, was most famous for the alien monster he created for the movie of the same name.

The terrifying creature and sets he created for Ridley Scott’s film earned him an Oscar for special effects in 1980. In the art world, Giger is appreciated for his wide body of work in the fantastic realism and surrealistic genres.

His talent for scaring movie audiences was repeated in Poltergeist 2 (1986), Alien 3 (1992) and Species (1995). Computer game fans were able to enjoy his work in Dark Seed in 1995.

Film work was just one of his talents. Giger is also known for his sculptures, paintings and furniture. The H.R. Giger Museum, inaugurated in the summer of 1998 in the Château St. Germain, is a four-level building complex in the historic, medieval walled city of Gruyères. It is the permanent home to many of the artist’s most prominent works.

However his art is not for people with weak nerves. Critic Fritz Billeter once wrote that Giger’s work was “loaded with eroticism tending often towards the shocking and the sadistic” and sometimes taking the form of an “orgiastic cult”.

‘Acid view’

Giger’s so-called biomechanoids represent a large share of his work. His representations of these creatures is a mixture of human and mechanical parts, with a strong focus on sexuality that can be disturbing for the viewer.

These biomechanoids are to be seen in many of Giger’s paintings and drawings, but the theme is also common to his sculptures and furniture.

In a swissinfo.ch report to mark Giger’s 70th birthday, Tobia Bezzola, curator of Zurich’s fine arts museum, said he appreciated Giger and worked with him on two exhibitions at the museum in 1995 and 2005. Bezzola said he particularly enjoyed the artist’s acid view of society that occasionally led him to blasphemous outbursts.

“Giger is for me one of the most important Swiss artists of the second half of the 20th century,” said Bezzola.

He pointed out the artist’s use of film and other art forms that helped people sharpen their visual perception. He also believed that Giger should be as highly rated as Swiss giants such as the architect Le Corbusier or fellow artist Max Bill.

Recognition

Hans Rudolf Giger was born in Chur, canton Graubünden in 1940. He studied architecture and industrial design at Zurich’s School of Applied Arts.

He began work as an interior designer in 1966, before becoming a full-time artist and filmmaker in 1968.

Giger’s biggest problem was that he was not always appreciated by Swiss culture specialists. His decision to become involved in popular culture forms such as fantasy films, record covers and so forth led to worldwide recognition and success that may have made him suspect to some.

Giger’s album covers for Debbie Harry and the band ELP were voted among the 100 best in music history in a survey of rock journalists.

“In America, there wouldn’t have been a problem,” Bezzola told swissinfo.ch. “New York’s museum of modern art is running a Tim Burton exhibition. His characters are drawn directly from graphic novel genre or horror movies.”

Despite his Oscar, Giger was never really recognised by the establishment in Switzerland; he was ignored between 1967 and 1970 when he applied for federal grants.

Source: Swissinfo.ch

New Swiss solar plane poised to circle the globe

Five years and eight world records after unveiling the prototype, the Solar Impulse team has introduced the Si2 – a solar plane that’s scheduled to fly around the world in 2015. Test flights are planned for next month, followed by training missions over Switzerland.

Pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg presented the plane at the Payerne Air Force base on Wednesday.

As founder and chairman Piccard told the crowd: “Today we are one step closer to our dream”. He also confessed that his creation reminded him more of an elephant than a bird.

“Each time I look at this plane I have a memory of my childhood – of the Walt Disney animation of ‘Dumbo’. His ears were so enormous that everybody made fun of him,” Piccard said, recalling how aviation experts laughed when he and his team displayed the first designs for the Solar Impulse 12 years ago.

Jokes aside, nobody’s laughing now – despite the fact that this plane’s 72-metre wingspan is even greater than that of the prototype (63.4 metres) or a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. Similar to a car, it weighs 2,300 kilogrammes – far more than the 1,600-kilogramme Solar Impulse 1.

To improve performance and comfort, the increase in size and weight was a must for the single-seat aircraft. In 2010, the project’s longest fuel-free flight lasted 26 hours – proving that it was possible to fly day and night on solar power alone.

Now the challenge is to circle the planet, which means crossing oceans. This will require the plane to stay airborne for up to five days at a time.

Solar Impulse 1 crossed the Mediterranean (2012), and the United States (2013) – the latter project completed in six stages.

Energy efficient

“The Si2 is the only airplane in the world with unlimited endurance. It could fly for days, weeks, months, perpetually. It’s the most energy-efficient airplane ever designed,” said CEO and co-founder Borschberg.

He and Piccard will take turns in the cockpit, which has also received a major design overhaul. For example, they’ll be able to lie flat to sleep and relieve themselves via a convertible toilet seat.

“It’s a better environment for the pilot. If the first plane was economy class; this one is business,” said Borschberg. In addition to increased comfort, the Si2 features improved energy efficiency. Unlike its predecessor, it will be able to collect and store enough energy to fly through clouds.

This is thanks to its 17,248 solar cells, which will feed energy to the aircraft’s four propellers. Additional energy will be collected and stored in its lithium-polymer batteries. Flight speeds will be modest, ranging from 36-140 kilometres per hour, depending on time of day and altitude.

Described as an “airborne technology lab”, the plane was created by dozens of specialists – with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne serving as the project’s scientific advisor. A major challenge was finding extremely lightweight yet resilient materials.

Yet adapting the plane for commercial use isn’t on the agenda. According to Piccard, the main goal besides making it around the world is “to demonstrate how important technical innovation is for energy savings and renewable energy”.

And as Borschberg pointed out, “All of the technologies used on the plane can work on the ground, and they’re already finding uses in appliances, homes and cars to make them more energy efficient”.

The Solar Impulse 2 has a larger wing span than a Boeing 747. (Solar Impulse)

Flight into the unknown

“What’s new is to be able to fly for such long periods, and not knowing what sort of weather to expect a few days ahead. We’re flying into the unknown,” Borschberg said. “Solar Impulse 2 will have virtually unlimited autonomy, and now we need to make sure the pilot is as sustainable as his aircraft. This is why the round-the-world flight will be as much a human as a technological feat.”

Extreme temperatures ranging from -40°C to 40°C will be one challenge, but the cockpit is neither pressurised nor heated. Both pilots will be relying on their experience as well as tools like yoga and meditation in Borschberg’s case, and self-hypnosis in Piccard’s.

Asked what his biggest worry was, Piccard said, “When you do something for the first time you don’t even know what to worry about – you have so many unknowns. Nobody’s done it before, so you have to invent the solutions from scratch. This makes it exciting, but it’s also quite frightening.”

The round-the-world flight is scheduled to begin in March 2015, and the pilots will take turns flying five-day, non-stop shifts. They’ll start in the Gulf area and fly over the Arabian Sea, India, Myanmar, China, the Pacific Ocean, the US, the Atlantic and either southern Europe or northern Africa before returning to the departure point.

 

by Susan Misicka in Payerne

Source: swissinfo.ch

Lafarge-Holcim merger promises new mix in cement industry

A Lafarge facility in the east Toronto Portlands in July 2012 (Peter Power-The Globe and Mail)

The world’s two largest cement makers, France’s Lafarge and Holcim of Switzerland, have agreed to the terms of a merger that would create a company with a market value of around $55-billion (U.S.), a source close to the deal said on Sunday.

Such a merger, achieved by Holcim buying Lafarge, would be the industry’s biggest-ever tie-up and create an entity with combined sales of over $40-billion, raising the likelihood it will draw extra scrutiny from global competition watchdogs.

The boards of Lafarge and Holcim approved the proposal on Saturday and are due to announce it on Monday, the source said. The two groups have already begun to address possible competition concerns that would arise, the source added.

“The boards met yesterday and approved the proposal,” the source said. “An official communication is due on Monday.”

Lafarge declined to comment. Holcim was not immediately available for comment. Both firms are likely to be counting on support from major shareholders. More than a third of Lafarge stock is own by two investors who are represented on its board.

The two companies had already issued statements on Friday announcing they were in advanced talks to merge, a deal which would help them slash costs, trim debt and better cope with the soaring energy prices and weaker demand that have hurt the sector since the 2008 economic crisis.

Their share-price levels jumped to four-year highs on the news, lifting the entire cement sector. A merger would take out spare capacity and help consolidate the market, analysts said.

The terms of the transaction, reported by French newspaper Le Figaro and confirmed by the source, will see Holcim launch a public takeover for Lafarge payable in shares. If successful, the combined firm will be based in Switzerland but will have operational headquarters in Switzerland and France.

Lafarge Chief Executive Officer Bruno Lafont will become CEO of the combined entity, while the chairman will be Swiss.

Investment-bank Rothschild and boutique firm Zaoui & Co – helmed by veteran deal-making brothers Michael and Yoel Zaoui – are advising Lafarge, while Goldman Sachs is advising Holcim, according to two sources close to the deal.

Holcim and Lafarge are close in size, with the former’s market capitalisation at $30-billion and the latter’s at $25-billion. They each have an enterprise value – which includes debt as well as equity – at around 10 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).

However, in share-price terms, Lafarge enjoys a more expensive valuation with a price-to-earnings ratio of around 33 versus Holcim’s 20.5, according to Reuters data. Lafarge’s stock is up 18 per cent this year. Holcim’s is up around 20 per cent.

Both companies have high-profile billionaire backers, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Switzerland’s Thomas Schmidheiny and Filaret Galchev from Russia control a total of 31 per cent of Holcim, while Lafarge’s two biggest shareholders are Groupe Bruxelles Lambert – holding company of Belgium’s Albert Frere – and Egyptian tycoon Nassef Sawiris. The Thomson Reuters data show GBL and Sawiris own a total of 37 per cent of the French firm.

Any deal is likely to draw scrutiny from global competition watchdogs, as a Lafarge-Holcim combination would have a dominant position in both Europe and the United States.

Both companies have significant and overlapping capacity in countries such as France, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, Romania and Serbia, according to Morningstar analyst Elizabeth Collins.

Analysts have also pointed to Canada and Brazil as other markets where the new entity would have a dominant position.

The companies are already working to address possible antitrust concerns, the source said, without elaborating.

Regulators would probably require the companies to shed some cement plants and distribution facilities before approving any merger.

Lafarge’s 2013 merger with Tarmac, Anglo American’s British business, was approved by British antitrust authorities only after both agreed to sell a significant number of assets.

Holcim and Mexican rival Cemex also announced plans in August to exchange some assets and combine others in Europe. European Union antitrust regulators are investigating aspects of the deal and whether it will reduce competition and result in higher prices for consumers.

A merger could put pressure on major global competitors such as Cemex as well as Germany’s Heidelbergcement and Anhui Conch Cement of China.

The merger plan comes after both Lafarge and Holcim took on debt in the past decade to expand in emerging markets, where rapid urbanisation has fed demand for building materials.

Then the U.S. housing bubble burst, Europe sank into a sovereign debt crisis and demand collapsed. Lafarge suffered further when the unrest of the Arab Spring held back the very markets it had banked on with its $12-billion takeover of Egypt’s Orascom Cement in 2008.

Meanwhile, energy prices spiked and many plants in the power-hungry industry are now running at a loss or well below their capacity.

Lafarge, whose cement helped build the Suez Canal and Hitler’s Atlantic Wall bunkers along France’s west coast, employs around 65,000 workers in 64 countries. Holcim, which was founded in 1912, now has about 71,000 employees in 70 countries.

Since the economic crisis, Lafarge and Holcim have both embarked on cost-cutting drives and shed assets to trim debt.

Some analysts said a merger would help Lafarge potentially almost halve its fixed and variable costs, as Holcim has a better credit rating than Lafarge and the group as a whole could benefit from lower borrowing costs.

Lafarge, whose debt is rated as junk by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, aims to regain an investment grade this year.
By Lionel Laurent

Source: The globe and mail