Products and Value Chain

ZEISS’s success is built on top quality and ongoing innovation. Optical technologies pave the way for innovations in numerous industries. ZEISS’s development of new products is focused squarely on meeting customer needs. This is what ZEISS customers know and expect. This includes responsible creation of the value chain – from the raw materials supplier to the sale of the product.

ZEISS offers a wide variety of different products that are as diverse as its customer groups – from hospitals and medical practices to research laboratories and technology companies, to automotive manufacturers and consumers. What they have in common is that, to all of them, the name ZEISS is a promise of quality, innovation, safety, reliability and responsibility. And for many of them, the name ZEISS also stands for better health and improved quality of life. As such, ZEISS products and services contribute to medical advancements in neurosurgery/ENT surgery and support doctors on every continent as they go about improving the quality of life of their patients. Eyeglass lenses from ZEISS help people around the world enjoy better vision. And intelligent measuring systems from ZEISS help increase efficiency in many different industries. 

Product Safety and Product Development

At ZEISS, creating safe products is a matter of course. In order to be and remain a recognized partner in every market, ZEISS verifiably implements all applicable laws governing product safety in use and disposal.

Furthermore, during product development and production, as part of a comprehensive risk analysis, ZEISS ensures that all necessary measures are initiated before launching a new product to make the use and disposal of the product safe for customers and third parties. In this context, training seminars help users deploy ZEISS devices safely and successfully.  

In addition, potential vulnerabilities are reviewed as part of continuous market surveillance. As a result, ZEISS always has the ability to react to such areas of potential improvement and, if necessary, take corrective action without delay.  

Guidelines, Structure and Processes

The ZEISS Group’s Code of Conduct clearly outlines the topic of product safety and its importance to the company’s success. Product development, design, and sales activities are conducted in accordance with all applicable national laws, standards and guidelines. Employees from ZEISS are actively involved in their further development through European and international committees or standardization bodies and, as a result, also bring fresh ideas to product development at ZEISS.

At the ZEISS Group, adherence to standards and rules is ensured through the use of guidelines and compliance monitoring. Responsibility for product safety lies with the Executive Boards and/or the Managing Directors of the individual companies, as well as with the safety officers with product responsibility they employ. They must make structures, resources and skills available to properly meet all mandatory legal requirements.
The following principles apply worldwide:

  • Product safety requirements must be observed during every stage of the product life cycle.
  • Customer feedback must be used as the basis for product improvements.
  • Ongoing market surveillance is utilized to ensure that products continue to meet the highest safety requirements.
  • The safety of certain products must be verified by independent organizations.

The “Product and Solution Generation” process is of fundamental importance. The purpose of this guideline is to both define the minimum requirements a modern development process must meet for the ZEISS Group and specify mandatory minimum content, which is outlined in the form of a checklist in the appendix. The goal of this systematic focus of the development process is to give customers the right products and solutions with respect to their customer expectations, customer benefits, quality, time and costs in order to achieve a significant competitive edge. ZEISS only releases products after successfully addressing the aforementioned areas and the corresponding market requirements. In addition, ZEISS continuously strives to reduce its environmental impact in the product life cycle. The mandatory checklists contain two related categories that must be taken into account during development: the environmental performance of the products and sustainability over the products’ entire lifetime. Based on the Group’s environmental principles, the approach to this production-integrated environmental protection is an obligation to adhere to strict process management. This is how the company ensures that all ZEISS products meet the applicable environmental regulations and guidelines. Special care should be taken to ensure that:

  • The raw materials used are harmless to human health and the environment
  • The manufacture and use of products generates the lowest level of effluent, waste, and emissions as possible

Objectives and Results

ZEISS ensures that all mandatory legal requirements are fulfilled and risk analyses are conducted in accordance with internal guidelines in order to receive product approval. Updated minimum rules governing the further integration of sustainability aspects into the product development process will become binding for the development of all ZEISS products by the end of the 2017/18 fiscal year.

Many of the ZEISS business groups have switched from disposable to recyclable packaging for their products in recent years. Recyclable packaging is most often used for products delivered to customers within Europe from the Industrial Metrology, Microscopy, and Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology business groups.  

Procurement and Supplier Management

Due to the significant amount of value created along the supply chain, the procurement process is critical to ZEISS’s long-term success. Local purchasing organizations active around the globe source both production and non-production materials from local and international suppliers. The company’s constantly evolving supplier base now includes over 5,000 suppliers located in different countries around the world.   

Due to the significant amount of value created along the supply chain, the procurement process is critical to ZEISS’s long-term success. Local purchasing organizations active around the globe source both production and non-production materials from local and international suppliers. The company’s constantly evolving supplier base now includes over 5,000 suppliers located in different countries around the world.

The company works very closely with its global network of suppliers to reduce the negative impact of its business operations. Since a large share of added value is purchased from third-party suppliers, ZEISS takes a risk-based approach to ensuring that suppliers are systematically monitored with regard to sustainability aspects. As such, environmental and social aspects play an important role in the selection of and collaboration with suppliers. In complex supply chains, environmental pollution, human rights violations, and child or forced labor represent potential risks that ZEISS wants to proactively address. To achieve its own aspirations and meet the expectations of customers, employees and society at large, ZEISS plays an active role in ensuring that suppliers adhere to environmental and social standards.

Guidelines, Structures and Processes

As minimum standards for human rights, health and safety, environmental protection and business ethics, ZEISS suppliers must adhere to the provisions of the internationally recognized code of conduct Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), formerly the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition. The RBA Code of Conduct is based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and international human rights standards like those issued by the ILO.

ZEISS expects suppliers who have a direct business relationship with the company to meet the Code of Conduct’s minimum standards. The strategically important suppliers who make up approximately 75 percent of the company purchasing volume must acknowledge this Code of Conduct, adhere to it themselves, and pass the standards on to their sub-suppliers and subcontractors. Strategically important suppliers are reviewed within the scope of assessments, audits and other measures.

In addition to the RBA Code of Conduct, ZEISS’s statement on the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act with respect to the company’s procurement-related guidelines also applies. Implementation and operational procedures are monitored by a committee – the Supply Chain Expert Panel – which is composed of employees representing supplier management at their respective business group. The Supplier Sustainability team, which also operates at Group level, is responsible for various sustainability aspects in supply chain management, drives their development and their promotion and supports their implementation across all units and business groups. Specific individuals are responsible for actual implementation and are given the skills they need for this task through measures to increase awareness and through different exchange formats.

Conflict Minerals

ZEISS supports the aims of Section 1502 of the American Dodd-Frank Act, which aims to stop the financing and preferential treatment of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighboring states through trade with so-called conflict minerals.
Conflict minerals include:

  • Columbite-tantalite (raw material for tantalum extraction)
  • Cassiterite
  • Gold
  • Wolframite (raw material for wolframite extraction)
  • Compounds of these minerals.

ZEISS has established a suitable process for identifying and monitoring the relevant suppliers.

ZEISS expects its suppliers to take action to ensure that the requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act regarding the use of conflict minerals are met and that the materials supplied to ZEISS contain no conflict minerals that directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or its neighboring states.  

Further information is available in the current Sustainability Report.

If you have any questions or comments on sustainability at ZEISS, please write to us at: respons ibility @zeiss .com