Products and Value Chain

The product generation process and supply chain management are key processes for the ZEISS Group’s long-term success. So that is why ZEISS takes a holistic and proactive approach in both areas.

For our supply chain, economic, environmental and social factors play a role in the selection of and collaboration with our suppliers. For our products and services, ZEISS continually strives to reduce the environmental impacts throughout their life cycles while also adhering to all legal requirements.

  • Supplier relationships

    ZEISS works closely with a global supplier network. Economic and environmental as well as social factors play a role in the selection of and collaboration with the suppliers. After all, ZEISS can only meet the needs of its customers when its suppliers comply with environmental and social standards and play their part in ensuring sustainable development.

    Supplier selection

    ZEISS expects its suppliers to recognize the minimum standards set by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and take action to meet these requirements on an ongoing basis. The internationally accepted EICC Code of Conduct is related to the areas of work, health care, safety, the environment and ethics. It ensures that employees are treated with respect and that business operations are conducted in line with environmental and ethical considerations. The stipulations of the EICC Code of Conduct are based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and were modeled on international standards.

    New suppliers are selected on the basis of technical and logistical requirements, a suppler self-disclosure form and a status query on certain business issues. This includes occupational safety, environmental protection and energy efficiency, and in the future will also take into account social and ethical aspects. On-site inspections are performed at selected ZEISS suppliers; these are known as supplier audits. The aim of these audits is to identify any weaknesses in the supply chain and find and implement appropriate solutions.


    Sustainability in the supply chain

    At ZEISS, the concept of integrating sustainability aspects in the supply chain is a five-part procedure. The first stage sees ZEISS communicating the minimum standards of the EICC Code of Conduct to all suppliers. Written confirmation of compliance with the minimum standards is then submitted by selected suppliers. Third, the initial risk categorization fulfills two purposes: it helps perform a supplier risk assessment and enables ZEISS to identify particularly critical or risky suppliers. Fourth, ZEISS sends suppliers categorized as “critical risks” in the initial assessment a copy of the Sustainability Supplier Self-assessment Questionnaire (S-SAQ). In the fifth and final stage, sustainability assessments are to be performed at suppliers’ sites by way of audits. Should the results not satisfy the ZEISS sustainability criteria, a plan of action will be defined with the suppliers. ZEISS will pursue these cases until their successful implementation.

    The first three stages were integrated into the supply chain at ZEISS in fiscal year 2015/16. Stages four and five will be implemented in fiscal year 2016/17.

    Conflict materials

    ZEISS supports the objectives of Section 1502 of the American Dodd-Frank Act, which has the aim of preventing the financing and facilitation of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or the neighboring states through trading in conflict materials.

    These conflict materials include:

    • Columbite-tantalite (raw material for tantalum extraction)
    • Cassiterite (tin)
    • Gold
    • Wolframite (raw material for tungsten extraction)
    • Composites of these materials.

    ZEISS has therefore established an appropriate process for the identification and monitoring of the relevant suppliers.

    ZEISS demands that its suppliers implement measures to ensure that the requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act regarding the use of conflict materials are satisfied, and that the materials supplied to ZEISS do not contain any conflict materials which directly or indirectly finance or facilitate armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or the neighboring states.

  • Product development

    Reducing environmental pollution in product development

    ZEISS continually strives to reduce the environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of its products. The company's approach to this product-integrated environmental protection, based on the Group's environmental principles, is an obligation to adhering to a strict process management – thus ensuring that all ZEISS products meet the applicable environmental provisions and directives.

    ZEISS AirSaver lowers compressed air consumption

    The ZEISS AirSaver is a special package comprising software and a control module designed for ZEISS coordinate measuring machines. It considerably lowers the consumption of compressed air in measuring machines, thereby reducing costs and promoting environmental protection. The ZEISS AirSaver monitors how long the measuring machine has been idle and automatically turns off the compressed air supply after a freely configurable period of time. The measuring machine is immediately operational as soon as a measuring program begins or the joystick on the control panel is moved. The ZEISS AirSaver pays for itself in just a few months.

    More energy-efficient chips

    How do the products of the Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology business group save energy? Microchips bundle increasing power in a compact space – while simultaneously sinking the power consumption of each functional unit. Lithography Optics is helping to accelerate the progress being made in this area by shrinking chip sizes, i.e. miniaturizing structures. Chips that are more powerful and more energy-efficient also help to steadily decrease the energy consumption of large computer centers, for example, because they reduce the need for energy-hungry cooling processes. Another energy-saving development is the NAND memory used in solid-state drives (SSDs) and USB sticks which saves significant amounts of energy compared to conventional hard disk drives (HDDs). The optical components which are used in wafer inspection systems provide a means of certifying the miniaturization of chip structures, for example. Thanks to other ZEISS systems, masks are optimized so that the costly production of new replacement masks is rendered unnecessary.

    Energy-saving ZEISS microscopes

    The Microscopy business group is also finding new ways to help customers conserve energy. The ZEISS Axio Vert.A.1 – a compact, inverted microscope for cell cultures – comes with a power-saving ECO mode. In this mode, the ZEISS Axio Vert A.1 switches off automatically if the microscope has been idle for longer than 15 minutes. This extends the life of the halogen lamps and saves energy.


    Challenges around innovations

    Today, society and companies are faced with various environmental and social challenges. ZEISS observes the relevant changes and develops appropriate products to address these developments.

    Center of Application and Research in Indien

    The demographic trend is leading to a progressively aging population and therefore to rising healthcare needs. More and more people in emerging countries are gaining access to medical services. India has a population of approximately 1.2 billion – of which currently only about 20 percent can avail of medical care. However, the country's economic growth will lead to an increase in these figures.

    ZEISS opened the Center of Application and Research (CARIn), in Bangalore, India in February 2011. The center's work focuses on the area of ophthalmology. ZEISS manufactures products in Bangalore especially for countries such as India and China. 

    Fighting TB

    ZEISS Primo Star iLED is the result of a collaboration between ZEISS and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND). This Swiss-based foundation set itself the goal of fighting the spread of dangerous infectious diseases through the targeted promotion of diagnostic innovations.

    To this day, ZEISS continues to make its mark in the fight against deadly infectious diseases. ZEISS thus developed the LED-based ZEISS Primo Star iLED fluorescence microscope, based on the powerful ZEISS Primo Star routine microscope, specially for examining tuberculosis. Customers in the public healthcare sector in the countries which are most severely affected (as defined by the WHO) can buy this microscope at a very affordable price.

    Product safety

    The safety and reliability of ZEISS products determine the company's success. In particular, the company's innovativeness and ability to maintain a good pace in innovating mean enormous challenges for all employees in the area of product safety and quality management.
    Product safety begins at the development stage, continues during the procurement and production processes and is of fundamental importance during the installation of the products at the customer and during servicing. A multitude of legal stipulations relating to the development, production, approval and sales of our products serves to guarantee safety.

  • End of the product life cycle

    Refurbishing of products

    Some ZEISS business groups offer used but fully refurbished products. Technicians ensure that these systems fulfill the same factory standards as new products and are in line with ZEISS standards.

    In comparison with new systems, this reprocessing leads to a reduced environmental impact. The product life cycle is extended: fewer product components, materials, raw materials and energy are used.

    Product disposal

    ZEISS acts in accordance with the stipulations of the various markets in which it operates. These include EU requirements on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), which regulate the return, disposal and recycling of electrical and electronic equipment.

    Modern technology often consist of a complex mixture of materials and components. Based on these potentially hazardous contents, they can cause major environmental and health issues if they are not disposed of properly. ZEISS has accordingly concluded EU-wide agreements so that disposal is carried out in line with the WEEE provisions. In all EU countries, ZEISS is registered as a commercial distributor of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE).

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