In the wake of World War II, Alfred Zoller opened up a mechanical repair shop in Germany, performing repairs all different types of mechanical items. It wasn’t until more than two decades later that he developed an innovation that would send his company on a path of global expansion.
In 1968, in a move that would essentially re-define cost savings and efficiency in the cutting manufacturing, Zoller developed and built the first presetting machine.
Nearly half a century later, Alfred Zoller’s grandsons, Christoph and Alexander Zoller, are carrying the tradition of innovation and efficiency forward as third-generation owners of the company — E. Zoller GmbH & Co. KG.
Headquartered in Germany, with a dozen offices worldwide located in North America, Europe, and Asia, Zoller is a global industry leader in tool management and measurement.
More than 30,000 of its machines and software solutions have been sold worldwide.
Success of that magnitude, Alexander Zoller said, hinges on the company’s longstanding commitment to elevating the efficiency of its customers’ manufacturing production processes.
“We support customers be more productive and more efficient in their daily manufacturing needs,” Zoller said. “It’s very important to us that we not simply provide a machine. We really provide an entire solution to the company. Customers today need a solution for a problem. They have a challenge they need to solve, and it’s often not solved with just the product. Our solutions consist of the combination of product, the software, the services, and the support. We’re able to manage all of that for our customers.”
The company’s customer base encompasses a broad range of manufacturing industries.
“We are very diversified with our product, so wherever something gets manufactured… whether in the automotive industry, aerospace industry, defense industry, medical industry, or woodworking industry, among others,” Zoller said.
Each of those industries has its own set of needs and challenges. Further, individual customers within those industries have specific needs. Zoller, therefore, is tasked with meeting an almost infinitely variable number of specific customer needs and challenges.
“Today in the manufacturing business, the big challenge is lead time — producing the part in the most effective time and with the best quality possible,” Zoller said. “This is where we step in. We can measure tools, where we can help control the quality of the tools that will later on manufacture a part or component. We can help the customer manage their deadline by helping them manage the production process in a time-efficient manner, while maintaining the best quality and the lowest price.”
To that end, Zoller has long maintained a philosophy of providing a comprehensive solution to a customer’s problem, driven by direct input from the customer.
“We develop always in the direction where we can support our customers. We listen to them, taking whatever improvements they need and incorporating those needs into the development,” Zoller said. “We don’t want to be viewed as a supplier. We want to partner with companies and grow together. If a company is very successful in manufacturing; if they can keep their deadlines; if they can produce in very high quality with inexpensive manufacturing costs, then they are able to grow. We can grow along with them because, depending on the application, we have solutions available to aid in all of those categories.”
Zoller’s total solution platform is comprised of its pre-setting and measuring machine products, software, service, and support.
Among the products in the Zoller portfolio are tool presetters, inspection and measuring machines, heat shrink systems, balancing machines, and tool management software.
One machine that is of particular interest to the gear manufacturing industry is Zoller’s hobCheck machine — a simple, fully automated, cost effective solution for the measurement of hard metal or HSS hob cutters.
“This is a machine for (gear manufacturing) where we can measure those type of tools with full automation — independent of the use of an operator,” Zoller said. “With the hobCheck machine, we combine an image processing system with a mechanical touch probe to measure parameter according to the DIN 3968. Based off the measurement, an automatic grade classification (D/C/B/A/AA/AAA) will be provided as documentation.”
The hobCheck combines image-processing technology with a measuring sensor and six CNC-driven axes to provide distortion-free complete measurement of hobs.
By swiveling the optic carrier into the milling pitch, the hobCheck provides distortion-free contours. This gives the user an exact replica of the tooth profile on the cutting edge.
Operating the hobCheck is facilitated by the inclusion of Zoller’s user-friendly pilot 3.0 software.
“It’s very simple,” Zoller said. “You load the cutter in our machine and then there is what we call a photorealistic input dialog. The photorealistic input dialog is based on DIN 3968. Based off this norm, tool measurement, tolerance, etc., are precisely defined. The only thing that needs to be done is to enter the nominal information. Since it is a CNC controlled machine, the machine will take over and will run the entire inspection process.”
This simple operation process means that a larger number of people are able to operate the machine without extensive training.
“The main advantage of this machine is that it’s very easy to operate,” Zoller said. “Everybody on the shop floor can run the machine without a lot of training. If you look at other machines, usually you need a Ph.D. to program and run the machine.”
In addition to measuring hobs, the hobCheck also includes all the standard functions of a measuring machine. Standard and special tools (such as drills, step drills, form cutters, and milling cutters) can be performed without difficulty.
Continuing a tradition that dates back to the foundation of the company, Zoller’s products and solutions are accompanied by a strong commitment to excellence in customer service.
“Since my grandfather started the company, we want to be local to our customers, no matter where we are in the world,” Zoller said. “We accomplish this by maintaining a very large service department, with service teams located throughout the world in different countries. The service technicians are our employees, so they are certified by our company. We go in, we look at the application, and then we also consult with our customers, and make sure they are able to use our product to the full extent and that they get the entire advantage out of the product.”
Zoller has more than 500 employees, operating out of a dozen offices worldwide — primarily in North America, Europe, and Asia. Additionally, the company has representatives in throughout the world.
The company is certified according to ISO 9001, VDA 6.4 and ISO 14001 standards, representing its commitment to quality and environmental management.
For more information:
If you’d like to learn more about Zoller’s hobCheck machine, or any of the other solutions in its portfolio, visit www.zoller-usa.com or call (734) 332-4851.