A tradition of being a technological trendsetter

AZO_3D_Anlage

For more than 65 years, AZO has played a pioneering role in the automation of raw materials in the foodstuffs, pharmaceutical, plastics and chemicals sectors. Trailblazing developments have been brought into being over this period.

Through all our endeavours to create new technical solutions, AZO never loses sight of the pivotal importance of the people involved: many company inventions were devised to avoid the need for, or to limit the repercussions of, heavy physical work.

1949 – 1959: Focus on bakery skills and the bread-making industry

AZO-Gründer Adolf Zimmermann
Marianne Zimmermann

1949 – a spirit of renewal in Osterburken. In a former sheep shed, Adolf Zimmermann and his wife Marianne opened a mill construction business. After close of play, the enthusiastic handyman devised machines for use in mills and bakeries. From this early time, he was working on plans for what later became world famous as the cyclone screening machine.

In 1951, Adolf Zimmermann built his “Pyramidal“ grain cleaning machine. A master baker provided the final prompt for building the first ever centrifugal flour sieving machine. This was launched on the market in 1952 under the name of “Triumpf” and was the prototype of the modern cyclone screening machine.

The trade fair for bakers and confectioners held that year in Stuttgart delivered the first sales and highlighted customer requirements. Produced up to that time in wood, these machines were now to be constructed entirely of metal, a major challenge for the young business and its workforce.

By the mid-fifties, AZO was already supplying the bakery trade and the bread-making industry with complete systems for flour, screening, leavening and temperature control with mechanical - and even in some cases pneumatic - fan conveying.

The number of employees had risen to 50 by 1957.

 

1960 – 1969: Innovative solutions for new sectors: Plastics processing, foodstuffs and the chemicals industry

Together with an active sales partner, AZO opened up new markets for its products in the Benelux countries, especially Holland. Demand for this machinery and equipment became so great that the business soon outgrew its original building. In 1962, Adolf Zimmermann laid the foundation stone for the new building in the industrial estate on the east side of town.

In 1963, the company moved its 80 highly-motivated employees into its new building, with a total floor area of 2500 square metres.

The development of pneumatic suction weighing systems for feeding kneading units and mixers proved to be a trailblazing success.

On the sales front, AZO teamed up with a major supplier to the bakery trade. This supplier’s capable sales team sold large numbers of AZO units. By virtue of their standard modular system, AZO shell-type silos proved a major success, giving the company market leadership position within just a few years.

In 1966, with its new production range of pneumatic vacuum conveying systems, AZO presented new ways of feeding processing and plastics machines. The challenging requirements of the foodstuffs and chemicals industry necessitated the extension of the stainless steel production facility. By 1969, a total of 270 staff were employed on the factory site, by now extending over an area of 60 000 square metres.

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1970 – 1979: Suction weighing and conveying systems set new standards in the high-volume automation business

AZO_Big-Bag_Befuellung

The turbulent Seventies had AZO engaged in the development of suction weighing and conveying systems. The conveying, dosing and weighing of predominantly horizontal material flows do not require much space, making it possible to use existing space within buildings in an optimum manner. These systems constituted a major step forward for high-volume automation. Small quantities such as ingredients and additives were still being weighed by hand at this time, something of a challenge for the development specialists at AZO.

In 1975, AZO scaled up its sales activities and established a highly-effective nationwide field service in Germany. For the export market, contracts were concluded with agents all over the world, and licenses were issued to Japan. AZO even started supplying its equipment to South-East Asia.

This intensive sales effort rapidly delivered results: Orders started flooding in from all over the world, initially for machines and small units, but then increasingly for large units as well.

The first ever company subsidiary was established in the USA in 1978, based in Memphis, Tennessee.

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1980 – 1989: Milestones in process automation: Innovative process control technology and the AZO COMPONENTER®

By 1979, AZO was planning and producing complex control units on a proprietary basis. Some of these electronic control units for silo and weighing systems were sourced by renowned suppliers.

The company management team soon recognized that it is a great deal better all round to supply process and control technology from a single source. This realization was the trigger for developing special software and for building control units for electronic weighing equipment.

At the 1983 plastics trade fair, AZO became the first company to present a screen display version of process control for material handling. A major order from the spice industry followed later that same year, involving the development and practical implementation of fully-automatic dosing container systems.

To mark the occasion of the company’s 35th anniversary, a new production area was opened, featuring a range of new equipment including a laser and plasma sheet-cutting machining centre.

An exhibition centre was opened for customers.

In the Eighties, development of the AZO COMPONENTER® reached volume production status. This effectively marked an end to the processes known as “pre-mixing”. It now became possible to achieve full integration of all components in a single automation process. Different receptacles, e.g. bags, big bags and containers require great flexibility from an automation system. AZO also rose to meet this challenge by developing special handling systems for these different types of receptacle. As a consequence, seamless integration was achieved in these automated processing operations. The tiniest components, for which fully-automatic integration is not always economically viable, can be incorporated in the process reliably using operator-controlled manual weighing stations. Convenient process control and display systems make the material flow more reliable than ever before.

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1990 – 1999: Pioneering application of AGVs and patented solutions for cyclone screening technology

AZO Wirbelstrom-Siebmaschine DA

In the early Nineties, the DOSITAINER® development was perfected, a system which originated in the mid-eighties. Other developments such as the BATCHTAINER® and MIXTAINER® were then added. This culminated in 1996 with AZO becoming the first company in the bulk goods handling sector to use AGVs for collecting and weighing components. This involved the use of automatic transport systems. The inclusion of a container mixer in the product range rounded off the containment range.

Parallel to this development, in the early Nineties increasingly widespread use was being made of the big bag form of container. AZO developed dust-tight discharge and filling systems for this type of container. The increasingly popular solutions which AZO now offers to this sector are as flexible as the fabric of the big bags themselves.

In 1997, AZO, the inventor of cyclone screening technology, launched the twin-drive Type DA screening machine with self-metering: this constituted an absolute highlight in the cyclone screening system sector. Since that time, a patent has been granted for this new system and this further underlines the victorious progress of AZO cyclone screening technology in this sector.

In 1998 a vibration bottom was developed for the pharmaceuticals industry. This dispenses entirely with a sleeve, thus making it a great deal easier to clean. This development has now also been patented.

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2000 – 2009: The Millennium – What does the future hold in store for us?

As we entered the new millennium, AZO intensified its efforts with continuous, gravimetric dosing systems: this has given rise to the AZOGRAV® and AZODOS®. The AZODOS® has now developed into a family of equipment which covers almost the entire range of continuous metering processes.

 In 2003, following the invention of the DosiBox® and in conjunction with the DOSINENTER® and the DosiLogistic®, AZO successfully developed a low-cost automation system for small components. This system has made it possible to integrate all components in the automation process.

By establishing the AZO subsidiary hsh in early 2004, the company demonstrated its genuine commitment to process control and display technology.  

In 2005, to establish a position in the fast growing market of South East Asia, AZO Ltd. was founded in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand.

In early 2005, sales activities were expanded through the founding of AZO UK Ltd. in Great Britain, and elsewhere in Europe.

2006: Inauguration of the new AZO Customer Centre with exhibition and seminar rooms with the very latest of media technology. Restructuring of the test centre for raw materials handling with attached laboratory for loose bulk materials.

Since 2007, AZO has been represented by its own subsidiary in Tianjin, China, the world's most populated country.  

In 2008 AZO secured a good level of order intake in all four of its divisions. In terms of regional distribution, this result equated to 1/3rd Germany, 1/3rd rest-of-Europe and 1/3 overseas, leading to a lengthening of delivery lead times and prompting a substantial increase in personnel.

On September 1, 2008, AZO founded a wholly-owned subsidiary, Zoatec GmbH in Neuenburg, South Baden, that deals with the homogenisation and mixing of liquid and semi-solid products.

At the end of 2008, the AZO Group employed 780 staff worldwide.

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2010: AZO invests in a new assembly centre

Right at the start of the year, we won an award at the Powtech trade fair for our innovation, the upright version of our cyclone screener.

The use of a key account manager for a major global company bore fruit for the AZO®Food division in the form of orders for several AZO®ShuttleDos systems.

In November 2010, a new assembly building was opened at a company celebration, and employees were entrusted with fully operational status of this building, measuring more than 3000 m2. It was constructed with the aim of cutting energy costs by 50% and of reducing CO2 emissions by 200 tons per annum.

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2011: Full order books give rise to a substantial increase in payroll staff numbers

As early as 2010, it became apparent that the global economic situation was improving strongly, and that a real investment boom was taking place. At AZO, this manifested itself in the form of the highest level of order intake since the company was originally founded.

Personnel within the AZO Group was increased by 73 employees to a new total of 921.

To cover the need for space for these employees, substantial investments were made in 2011 to purchase office accommodation and production floorspace.

The AZO Group is also growing globally. To train its international employees effectively, the AZO Academy was brought into being.

AZO not only sells sustainable and energy-efficient systems to its customers, but also invests in new heating systems at the Osterburken site to help to reduce CO2 emissions.

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2012: AZO further down the road to success

In 2012 the payroll staff grew from 921 to 946.

This necessitated a restructuring of Technology. To satisfy the increasingly divergent (i.e. individual) requirements of our customers for AZO products, while at the same time optimising the product portfolio and encouraging modularisation, the Product Management department was founded.

Order intake was evenly divided across the four divisions, with a ratio of 40% domestic and 60% international.

A delightful event occurred at the mid-point of the year: On 30 July, entrepreneur and company founder Adolf Zimmermann celebrated his 90th birthday. Numerous guests from the worlds of politics, business, and society congratulated him on this important anniversary - a day to remember.

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2013: The AZO Group continues to grow as a unit

In 2013, our company chronicle regrettably had a sad event to record. On March 15, 2013, at the age of 90, our retired CEO Adolf Zimmermann passed away. To the very end, he and his lady wife followed the fortunes of the company they founded, and did so with great interest. Adolf Zimmermann was a man of broad vision, willpower and creative impetus. In the more than 40 years that he and his wife Marianne navigated AZO from a small specialist operation for mill technology to a global player in its field, his life centred around the continuous upwards growth of the company, and around his family. Due to the fact that the Global Meeting in Osterburken was taking place at almost the same time as his funeral, almost all of the CEOs of the company's subsidiaries were able to attend this solemn event.

In future, AZO will remain in family hands. With the imminent arrival of Denise Zimmermann on the Board of Management, the third generation of the family is about to become engaged in its future.

On October 1, 2013 hsh changed its name to AZO CONTROLS GmbH and zoatec changed its name to AZO LIQUIDS GmbH, both important steps that further reinforce the company brand of AZO and that raise the public profile of the AZO Group on the market.

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2014: The Anniversary Year

AZO France, based in La Haye Fouassiere used its 10th anniversary under the current management team as a good reason to hold a sumptuous celebration in July. In October, there will be several such good reasons to hold an AZO 'Oktoberfest'! AZO SOLIDS celebrated its 65th anniversary, hsh was founded 35 years ago, and has been a part of the AZO Group for 10 years, and this year it celebrates its first year as AZO CONTROLS. At the same time, the new premises for electrical manufacturing was inaugurated in what had formerly been the home of the AZO SOLIDS paint shop.

In anniversary year 2014 the number of employees at the AZO Group crossed the one-thousand mark. On September 30, 2014, the AZO Group employed 1027 people, including the 49 trainees at AZO GmbH + Co. KG.

With an official total of 1027 employees, the AZO Group payroll staff rose by more than 21% in comparison to 2010.

Since January 1, 2014, AZO Holding GmbH has been the parent company, and all previous subsidiaries became sister companies, all still arranged at the same level on the company hierarchy.

In Germany, we exhibited at four trade fairs, as well as attending a further 30 trade fairs internationally. At the same time, three Technology Days were held at the Osterburken site.

 

 

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Exhibitions Germany

04.04.2017 - 06.04.2017
European Coatings Show 2017 Nuremberg