ZOLLER was founded just outside of Stuttgart, Germany in 1945. Alfred Zoller realized that recovering from the devastation of World War II would require a great deal of remanufacturing, repairs, and re-engineering involving everything from household appliances to automotive parts. The company developed and manufactured its first presetter in 1963, which quickly gained market acceptance throughout Europe and soon accompanied the machine tools that were sold into the United States, paving the way for ZOLLER to establish its North American headquarter in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1997, led by Alexander Zoller. It is now a third-generation family-owned global enterprise.
Recognizing the need to be near its customers, wherever they are located, ZOLLER has 20 dedicated facilities providing service and stocking parts around the world. Along with a mix of authorized distributors and sales agents, it enjoys a global footprint, always sensitive to the societal expectations that might call for a locally based staff familiar with the surrounding dialect and customs.
According to Dietmar Moll, director of business development, automation, and smart factory solutions, the company has four distinct product lines. “Tool Presetting is our number-one category, especially since it was really the basis of our original product lineup,” he says. “We offer both vertical and horizontal devices, and more than 45,000 have currently been sold around the world. Then there is Inspection and Measuring, with categories including universal measuring machines, process-oriented measurement, and Automation Solutions.”
The fourth category, Tool Management, has existed for quite some time in the form of storage solutions for tool rooms, but the advent of automation, AI, and sophisticated software has ramped up advances within this area, making it ripe for R&D investments and industrial collaboration, particularly with machine tool OEMs and cutting tool manufacturing. Tool Management systems have evolved to the point where manual loading can be held to an absolute minimum, with all tool monitoring, replacement, and mounting handled automatically by these precise, integrated systems. Automation has also been developed to handle other “non-value-added” procedures such as tool delivery to a machine’s work area, providing ergonomic benefits, and process streamlining.
Describing ZOLLER as “a customer-centric” company, Rita Conroy-Martin, director of marketing, says educational resources are constantly in development, and while live events do still occur, the coronavirus has made the importance of digital interaction apparent. “The ZOLLER Training Academy, headed up by Michael Stepke, offers both live and virtual training seminars to current and potential customers, and we also host webinars that are then archived online. We collaborate with our sales team, who work on the front lines alongside our customers, to develop content for these webinars based on end-user comments. This allows us to address their concerns directly, to keep our content fresh, and also to pick up on pointers that we can utilize to improve our own technologies.”
Conroy-Martin adds that, with the company marking its 75th anniversary, it will be kicking off the celebration by hosting a three-day online live event from September 15-17, 2020, that will be broadcast from its headquarters in Ann Arbor. The event will be rife with educational content and special promotions while also underlining an important message.
“We want to emphasize that in addition to being the largest manufacturer of presetters in the world, we have evolved into a solutions-based company across the entire spectrum of cutting tools,” according to Moll. “Our upcoming celebration will be an opportunity for us to demonstrate how that has been achieved.”