In March 2020, ZEISS received disturbing news about the new corona virus "SARS-CoV-2". In the days that followed, the SMT segment worked hand in hand with the Corporate Group to set up a task force. Within a very short time, measures are defined to protect the health of colleagues. The task force also sets the course for a safe working environment during the pandemic.
SMT thrives on innovation and on creative, direct exchange among each other. But at the beginning of the pandemic, all office staff, all developers had to go to their home offices. The webcam replaced the meeting room, the conference call replaced the coffee machine. The production team, on the other hand, maintained production on site in our plants – because you can't take a CNC system or a huge measuring system home with you. Working under changed conditions took a lot of energy. We are all the more proud of the fact that we managed to safeguard our elaborate processes. We were able to continue developing and manufacturing – thanks to the comprehensive safety measures and the rapid support for our employees on site and at home.
Our working world has changed enormously – and it will continue to change. I'm proud of what our colleagues have achieved in the past year, but we can and should also seize this moment as an opportunity.
All this happened while business continued to grow: In the year of the COVID-19 crisis SMT prepared production of the next lithography generation and increased current production figures in order to continue to supply chip manufacturers for the booming semiconductor market. In addition, ZEISS – together with its partners TRUMPF and Fraunhofer – won the German Future Prize in November 2020 and presented EUV technology to German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel at the Digital Summit in December. This also shows the great teamwork under difficult conditions. This was followed in early summer 2021 by a successful ZEISS vaccination campaign. Achieving vaccination protection for colleagues and accelerating the return from the home office – that is the goal. The entire team is helping and the occupational health service is doing an outstanding job.
Our hope is that the vaccinations will have an effect. As infection numbers fall, we will return to a normal working day. But what does "normal" actually mean? The internal project "SMT to New Normal" (SMT2NN) is preparing for the return to a "new normal". Several trends are foreseeable: networking and digitalization will progress faster than before. Working from home will also continue to play an important role. There will be fewer business trips and more video conferences. This doesn’t need to be a disadvantage. It not only saves CO2 and time on the road – but also promotes fast, immediate and personal exchange across borders. In production, automation will increase, relieving people of physical labor and weekend shifts.
Besides all these topics the work-life balance is continuing to develop at SMT. Yet the interlinking of work and private life brings both rights and obligations. Things used to be simpler: Leisure time began as soon as you left the factory gate. It's different in a networked world and requires more flexibility from everyone involved – and Team ZEISS manages that, too, together with its many new colleagues.
The bottom line is that SMT and, above all, all the colleagues involved can be proud of their achievements over the past few months. It's also great that Team ZEISS is getting bigger and bigger. Because at the moment we are looking for more fellow combatants to make the technologies of tomorrow possible. Click here for our current job offers.
Head of Semiconductor Manufacturing Optics