In our fast-paced times, 20 years is anything but a matter of course for the duration of a business relationship. That's why we at DQS are all the more pleased to be able to celebrate this special anniversary this year together with ZEISS, a world-renowned technology company that is a leader in several industries.
On Wednesday, April 27, the time had come: Following a three-day audit at ZEISS' corporate headquarters in Oberkochen, Germany, DQS auditors Achim Burmeister and Danny Schütz, who had just completed the final round of the audit, and DQS Key Account Manager Manuel López González, who had traveled to the company especially for the occasion, met with representatives of Carl Zeiss AG to move onto the leisurely part of the day after their work was done.
f.l.: Achim Burmeister (DQS), Dr. Andreas Kempf, Head of Corporate Auditing, Risk and Quality Management and Senior Vice President Carl Zeiss AG, Manuel Lopez (DQS) and Danny Schütz (DQS)
A small ceremony in a relaxed atmosphere
The small-scale celebration of the 20th anniversary of the collaboration between the two companies began with the presentation of a gift to Dr. Andreas Kempf, Head of Corporate Auditing, Risk and Quality Management and Senior Vice President at ZEISS, by Manuel López. The beautifully shaped ornamental ISO 9001 certificate, made of high-quality glass, quickly found a worthy, central place in Dr. Kempf's office. This first part of the get-together, which took place in a decidedly casual setting, eventually led to a casual photo session, for which a number of other colleagues from Mr. Kempf's department, as well as representatives for environmental protection and occupational safety, came before the lens.
Employees in Corporate Auditing at Carl Zeiss AG
Arnim Schaffitzel, central coordinator for system certifications at ZEISS and interface partner to DQS for the past 15 years, then reviewed the past 20 years in a presentation rich in anecdotes.
Chronology of a successful partnership
According to Schaffitzel, the partnership with DQS began in 2000, when ZEISS needed certification according to VDA 6.4 (which included ISO 9001) for its Industrial Metrology division, but the "in-house certifier", who had already been active at ZEISS for seven years, had to pass on this set of rules. After the cooperation in the certification according to the automotive-specific regulations proved to be extremely fruitful, ZEISS decided in 2002 to enter into a framework agreement, in which the certification of 23 ZEISS business units already certified according to ISO 9001 by other parties was also placed in the hands of DQS in the future - the "ISO 9001" matrix continued to grow in the following period to 103 business units today!
The ZEISS integrated management system comes into being
In 2004 and 2005, the four business units Service Center Oberkochen, IMT Oberkochen, 3D Metrology Services Aalen and 3D Automation Essingen achieved BS OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001 certification, each forming a further matrix under the umbrella of Carl Zeiss AG. Today, the "ISO 14001" matrix contains 27 business units, and the "ISO 45001" matrix, which evolved from BS OHSAS 18001, contains 19. In 2013, energy management according to ISO 50001 was introduced, and in 2021, parts of the central IT and information security were certified by DQS according to ISO 27001 for the first time.
Over 300 potential improvements in ten years
It becomes very impressive when expressing the cooperation between DQS and ZEISS in figures. Today, an audit volume is achieved where (on average) an auditor from DQS or DQS MED is working for ZEISS somewhere in the world almost every day. During his 40 successful assignments, DQS audit manager Achim Burmeister (part of the audit team) has identified well over 300 potential improvements (not deviations!) for the benefit of ZEISS within 120 audit days. Converted into the working time of eight hours per day, which is still common in this country, Burmeister was busy for a complete six months with ZEISS alone.
The collaboration: cooperative, solution-oriented, trusting
For a summary of the partnership so far, we would like to quote Zeissian Arnim Schaffitzel verbatim: "One thing, however, was always present: the cooperative, solution-oriented, and trusting collaboration, both with the auditors and with the account managers at the DQS and DQS MED headquarters. Even our first account manager, Gert Krüger from DQS, repeatedly emphasized that ZEISS was by far his most complex customer."
The DQS auditor's view
However, this April 27th did not only mark the aforementioned anniversary. The date also marked the end of Achim Burmeister's more than 10 years as audit manager for the entire ZEISS world. The experienced DQS auditor will be making another career change and will be passing on the baton of audit manager for assessments of ZEISS companies to Danny Schütz, who is also a very experienced DQS auditor.
Achim Burmeister: The high-tech company par excellence
Achim Burmeister looks back with great pleasure and appreciation on his audit work at ZEISS, a company he describes as "the high-tech company par excellence in Germany". When asked what he found most impressive, he has an immediate answer: "The innovative strength is exemplary, and for me as a person interested in technology, it is always fascinating to see what is technically feasible. The biggest highlight for me, among many others, is the lithography area of the SMT division - after all, we think in femtometers here (that's 10-15 meters!). Such innovative strength is inconceivable without appropriate structures; and so the integrated management system definitely plays a significant role in this technical and economic success."
According to Achim Burmeister, it was particularly nice to be able to look behind the scenes during the audits - be it in the planetarium, to be able to follow production or assembly in a clean room, or to be able to attend a demonstration of stereo light microscopy or electron microscopy: "The innovative strength of ZEISS can be felt everywhere here. This is also particularly evident in the awarding of Nobel Prizes in the natural sciences or medicine, where ZEISS products very often play an important role." Danny Schütz, who had his first assignment at ZEISS headquarters during the past three audit days as Achim Burmeister's successor, will be looking forward to it.
Loyalty and reliability
Manuel Lopez found words of praise for the successful partnership once again in the follow-up of the event when he stated in response to a question from the author, "We at DQS - and me personally since 2018 as a key account manager for ZEISS in particular - we also appreciate above all the loyalty and close coordination with each other. It makes the planning of audits much easier when we have been working together in such a trusting manner for so long, and Mr. Schaffitzel in particular, my direct contact, takes a lot of work off our shoulders with his reliable and meticulous approach - for which I would like to take this opportunity to once again express my sincere thanks to Oberkochen!"
After so many positive voices, the hope, or rather the confidence, is growing that ZEISS and DQS will come together again in twenty years for a small celebration ...
ZEISS is a leading global technology company in the optical and optoelectronic industry. In its four divisions; Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology, Industrial Quality and Research, Medical Technology and Consumer Markets, the ZEISS Group most recently generated annual sales of 7.5 billion euros (as of September 30, 2021).
ZEISS develops, produces, and sells highly innovative solutions for industrial metrology and quality assurance, microscopy solutions for life sciences and materials research, and medical technology solutions for diagnostics and therapy in ophthalmology and microsurgery for its customers. ZEISS also stands for the world's leading lithography optics, which are used by the chip industry to manufacture semiconductor devices.
The basis for the success and further continuous expansion of ZEISS' technology and market leadership is the sustained high level of expenditure on research and development. ZEISS invests 13% of its revenue in research and development work - these high expenditures have a long tradition at ZEISS and are equally an investment in the future.
Corporate Headquarters Carl Zeiss AG
Founded: 1846 in Jena
Headquarters: Oberkochen, Germany
- In almost 50 countries
- With around 30 production sites
- 60 sales and service locations
- 27 research and development sites
Employees 2021: over 35,000 worldwide
Revenue 2021: EUR 7.5 billion worldwide
The sole owner of the parent company, Carl Zeiss AG, is the Carl Zeiss Foundation, one of the largest German foundations for the promotion of science.