From Compact Prime Lenses to Master Anamorphic Lenses
Visiting the core of customer care & support
Zeiss’s lens maintenance service and training
Every year, many cine lenses are brought in to Zeiss headquarters for maintenance. These lenses require factory-level adjustments which in some cases exceed the ability to be serviced in worldwide service locations. In the service room, there are some photos of extreme repair cases which were handled in the past – worn out helicoids, impact damage, or even hit by a bullet (makes us wonder if the DP was OK…) – these photos indicate the variety and workload which the Zeiss service at the headquarters is handling.
Zeiss’ lens maintenance work is not only handled at the headquarters, but also at three certified service centers around the world which are capable of high level repair, and also at numerous rental companies and equipment dealers who completed the lens service training at the central service station.
The Zeiss cine lens portfolio consists of Compact Prime, Ultra Prime and Master Prime lenses, plus Cinema Zoom CZ.2, Lightweight Zoom LWZ.3 and Master Anamorphic lenses. The technical complexity and required skills for the maintenance of each of the families are very different.
Therefore, the first stage of service training starts with Compact Prime lenses, and the trainer ensures trainees’ skill and understanding on construction and specifications. However, Master Anamorphic lenses are handled separately, as they require the highest level of technical skill and dedicated test equipment. In fact only a few engineers in the ZEISS service department can handle them.
Mr. Simon Sommer of Zeiss customer care center, who works as a trainer since 2006, explains that there are four levels of training. Level 1 is a half day course. The participants learn the basic knowledge how to evaluate lens conditions, and how to check and adjust flange focal depth. Level 2 is a one-day course for engineers of rental companies. They learn how to exchange front/rear elements of Compact Prime and Ultra Prime lenses, and other core mechanical parts. Level 3 takes 2 days, designed for engineers at larger rental companies, which have their own maintenance division. They learn how to disassemble, replace parts, adjust and reassemble Compact Prime, Ultra Prime and Master Prime lenses. Level 4 takes 3 days, and participants will learn the complete stripping, adjustment and reassembling of all lens families including Master Anamorphic lenses and Cinema Zooms CZ.2. They also learn how to use the Zeiss lens measurement equipment and tools to bring the precision to perfection.
Out of the four levels mentioned above, level 1 and 2 take place at various countries according to requests (approximately 30 participants per year). Level 3 and 4 are held in Oberkochen. Approximately 70 participants get trained in these levels every year in training-camp-style workshops. This sums up to 100 engineers every year, learning the lens technology and service methods directly from Zeiss trainers.
At the time we visited Zeiss HQ for this magazine coverage, we coincidentally could see the level 4 training taking place. The training course was limited to 4 or 5 participants at a time. They were learning intensively from 9AM to 4PM on three days in a row. (Training fee varies by each level, but is EUR 2,000 per person for level 4 at the time of this interview).
When level 1 and 2 trainings take place in stores and/or rental shops worldwide, Zeiss staff will also explain and demonstrate the new lenses on previous/subsequent days of the training. These activities contribute to spreading the correct information of product and service among the users and local service providers.
Although Mr. Sommer is responsible for training, he is also an active duty service technician and procurement personnel himself. When he first joined the company in 2001, he started his apprenticeship, worked in 2005 in the assembly line and moved later to the service division which he currently works at. Working for procurement and service, he always is passionate about delivering high skills and enlightening fellow engineers around the world.
While observing the service division, we noticed that even a single process like applying grease inside of cine lenses is difficult to be automated, and the work which is done in the service department is extremely labor intensive.
Apart from the labor itself, even very small materials, parts or tools used in the service procedures, such as the Loctite to glue small screws, high purity solvent to separate rings or lens locking spanners, are all available to worldwide service locations from the HQ. The aim is to serve the customer with “Zeiss quality” wherever they are.