2019 ZAE Antriebssysteme celebrated its centenary. And we put on a huge staff party to celebrate this in September. The staff and their families came together to listen to live music and enjoy a big festival buffet to toast the company's 100th anniversary. At the same time, lots of machine demonstrations took place in production and there were stations where people could try out their hand. The kids had lots of fun as well with a separate kid's programme featuring a bouncy castle, bull-riding, PlayStation consoles, penalty shooting and face painting. A tombola raised an impressive four-figure sum which will be donated to children's cancer research charity along with a share of the company profits.
And this is where the arc of innovation can be spanned, which, like the custom drive solutions from ZAE, have had tradition since the outset in 1919. In that year, the gearing department was spun off from the sister company KROENERT, therefore making an independent company in the form of the gearwheel factory Altona-Elbe Hans Meyer Kommanditgesellschaft (Altona was not yet part of Hamburg at the time).
Although the full order book for gearing parts led to steady growth, many of the ZAE and KROENERT company buildings were almost completely destroyed during the war. After the war ended in 1945, the British occupation made it forbidden for employees to enter the factory again for many months. But the economic miracle also allowed ZAE to regain its momentum. During this time, a contract was concluded with the Krones company, founded in 1951, for the supply of ZAE worm gear units. Another very important customer until today is the company Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz or KHD (today Deutz), which was looking for a manufacturer for a KHD-proprietary gearbox construction. ZAE has since delivered the gearbox to Deutz in many different versions until the current year. Since these gearboxes were fitted into Deutz 4-cylinder tractor engines as standard, the number of units was unusually large for ZAE. At peak times, nearly 2,000 gearboxes were made each month.
Another milestone was an innovation by ZAE employee Heinz Sassen, who had the idea in 1968 to use a one-piece housing made of cast iron instead of the housing usually made of two half-shells, and to complete it using covers and other attachments. In addition to cost savings, this innovative new block housing also offered advantages in terms of space and gearbox rigidity. In addition, the circumferential division level does not have to be sealed. Later, other manufacturers copied the principle. Today, the block housing is the standard in gearbox construction.
In 1982, the company expanded its premises and in 2003 to 2008, many of the group's buildings were renewed during ongoing operations. Previously, the decision had been made to remain at the premises in Hamburg-Bahrenfeld where the company was established 100 years ago. Even today, ZAE and KROENERT are owned by the same shareholders as sister companies. Our two other sister companies DRYTEC and COATEMA are also integrated into the company group under ATH Altonaer Technologie Holding.