It has been 70 years since AZO assumed a pioneering role in the automation of raw materials and processes in the food, pharmaceuticals, plastics and chemicals sectors. It has initiated game-changing developments in the handling of bulk materials, in pneumatic conveying systems and automatic mixer feeding.
Numerous anniversaries and memorable events
Adolf Zimmermann, the entrepreneur and founder of the company, celebrated his 90th birthday in 2012. Our senior director passed away on 15/03/2013. He followed the fortunes of the company, founded by him and his wife, with a keen interest up until the very last.
In 2014, AZO France celebrated its 10th anniversary, AZO SOLIDS marked its 65th anniversary and the firm of AZO CONTROLS its 35th.
In 2014, the year of its anniversary, the AZO Group counted 1027 employees, 49 of whom were apprentices or trainees. That year, turnover at AZO SOLIDS exceeded the 100 million euro mark for the first time and the AZO Group achieved sales of around 150 million euros.
AZO’s e&s (Engineering & Services) business division was established in 2015 in order to provide added value for AZO’s customers and the AZO Group as a service provider in the engineering field.
Similarly in 2015, a filling and weighing station for small containers, with calibratable scale, was developed for reliable and flexible filling of different-shaped receptacles.
In 2017, AZO’s sister company in China celebrated its 10th anniversary. The Middle Kingdom is one of Germany's main trading partners.
Robert Zimmermann (until then managing partner jointly with his brother Rainer Zimmermann) retired at the end of 2017. His daughter Denise also left the company. New management took over under CEO Rainer Zimmermann with effect from 01/07/2018.
In February 2018, AZO exhibited the AZO®RoLog for the very first time. The AZO®RoLog is a robot-assisted system for dosing of micro quantities.
AZO Inc. in Memphis Tennessee (USA), the first company established by AZO overseas, celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018. 2018 also marked the 10th anniversary of AZO LIQUIDS in Neuenburg.
In 2019, AZO GmbH + Co. KG in Osterburken celebrated its 70th anniversary. This occasion was fittingly celebrated with both an open day and an evening event, to which all the staff and retired employees were invited.
Technical innovations produced at a phenomenal rate
By the millennium, AZO’s focus was increasingly on continuous gravimetric dosing systems, which resulted in the AZOGRAV® and AZODOS® production series. AZODOS® spawned an entire family of machinery, which essentially covered the whole range of continuous dosing processes.
In 2003, AZO invented the DosiBox® in conjunction with the DOSINENTER® and the DosiLogistic®, offering an affordable system for automating handling of minor components. Customised automation concepts can be implemented ranging from automatic batching equipment for minor components through to fully automated logistics for minor components.
Creation of the AZO subsidiary AZO CONTROLS GmbH in early 2004 catered to the ever-more important needs of process control, instrumentation and visualisation technology.
In early 2005, European sales operations were also expanded with the founding of AZO UK Ltd. in the United Kingdom.
AZO Ltd. in Bangkok, Thailand was founded to tap into the booming market in South East Asia.
Again in 2005, the development of AZO ShuttledDos® succeeded in delivering a system to process many components and a large number of formulations completely automatically with maximum output and without risk of contamination.
2006: official opening of AZO’s new customer centre with showroom and seminar facilities equipped with the very latest in audio-visual technology. The test centre for raw materials handling was reorganised with an adjoining laboratory for bulk materials.
AZO has had a representative in the most populous country on earth in the Chinese city of Tianjin since 2007.
In 2008, AZO created a 100% subsidiary, zoatec GmbH in Neuenburg, in southern Germany (now AZO LIQUIDS), whose operations involve the homogenisation and mixing of liquid and semi-solid products.
In 2008 there were 780 employees working for the AZO Group worldwide.
Pioneers in the use of AGVs and patented solutions for cyclone screening technology
In the early 1990s, the DOSITAINER® technology was further refined; the BATCHTAINER® and MIXTAINER® were added to the range. In 1996, AZO was the first to use AGVs for collecting and weighing components in bulk materials handling with driverless vehicles. The addition of a container mixer in the portfolio rounded off the containment offer.
At the same time, AZO was developing dust-tight discharge and filling systems for big bags.
In 1993, AZO introduced new loss-in-weight systems for high-viscosity liquids, such as honey and oils, which made it possible to incorporate liquids into the automation process.
In 1997, development of the type DA screener, which was self-dosing and had two drives, culminated in a high point in cyclone screening for AZO as the inventor of this technology. The patented system assured the unabated and widespread success of AZO’s cyclone screening technology.
In 1998, this was followed by the development of a vibration bottom for the pharmaceuticals industry that dispensed entirely without the need for a sleeve and meant it was far easier to clean. This development has also been patented.
In 1999, AZO celebrated its 50th anniversary together with many customers, long-standing partners and staff.
Milestones in process automation: innovative process instrumentation and control and the AZO COMPONENTER®
In 1980, AZO gave the go-ahead for the development of special feeding software and construction of electronic weighing controls. AZO was the first manufacturer of automatic material feeding systems for bulk goods to visualise processes on a colour monitor. This has now become a standard component in modern feeding software for bulk materials in combination with custom material feeding software.
A large-scale order from the spice sector that same year led to the development and implementation of fully automatic containerised dosing systems.
For the 35th anniversary, a new production facility was planned, equipped with a laser and plasma cutting centre for sheet metal and a customer showroom, among other things.
In the mid-1980s, AZO developed the COMPONENTER®, a system with numerous options for automatic weighing with gram accuracy of minor and micro quantities, as are very often required in mixer feeding. This trailblazing development allowed AZO to incorporate all components into the automation process. In addition to this, there were special handling systems for different receptacles such as sacks, big bags and containers. It was possible to incorporate micro components in the process reliably by using operator-controlled manual weighing stations, which it would not have always been worth automating completely. Convenient process control and visualisation systems made the material flow more reliably than ever.
1960 - 1969
Vacuum weighing and vacuum conveying systems set new standards in automation of bulk materials
With its development of vacuum weighing systems, consisting of the patented multiport valve and conveying scales, AZO managed to penetrate the sector for feeding kneading machines and mixers. This trailblazing development became the standard for current technology in the area of mixer feeding.
The systems constituted a major step forward in the automation of bulk quantities.
Thanks to intense sales activity, more and more orders were placed for large-scale plants from all over the world, in addition to orders for machines and small plants.
In 1978, the first subsidiary was established in Memphis TN in the United States.
1960 - 1969
Innovative solutions for new sectors: plastics processing, food and the chemicals industry
Together with a dynamic distributor, AZO tapped into new markets in the Benelux countries, particularly in the Netherlands. The demand for the machinery and plants was so great that space in the old company building soon became inadequate. In 1962, Adolf Zimmermann laid the foundations for the new building in the Industriegebiet Ost. In 1963, the company moved premises together with its 80 highly motivated employees.
Silos built with a monocoque structure, which would fit in every building thanks to a standardised modular system, grew to become a real winner and made AZO the market leader in this field within a few years.
In 1966, AZO’s pneumatic vacuum conveying systems heralded a new production programme for feeding processing and plastics machines. The stringent demands from the food and chemicals industries made it necessary to expand stainless steel production. In 1969, 270 employees were already employed on the 60,000 m2 company site.
1960 - 1969
Concentrating on the bakery trade and the bread industry
1949: together with his wife Marianne, Adolf Zimmermann started up a business building mills in a former sheep pen in Osterburken. In his spare time, the enthusiastic hobby inventor designed machinery for mills and bakeries.
In 1951, Adolf Zimmermann designed the "Pyramidal" grain-cleaning machine. A master baker finally gave him the idea of designing the very first centrifugal flour-sifting machine. In 1952, it was launched on the market under the name of "Triumph" and is considered the prototype for today's cyclone screener. The machines were first built of wood, later then as an all-metal version on account of special customer requirements.
In the mid-1950s, AZO was already supplying the bakery trade and the bread industry with complete flour, screening, aerating and tempering plants, with mechanical or even already with pneumatic fan-assisted conveying.