TÜV SÜD – One of the world’s oldest testing and certification organization
In January 1865 a huge steam boiler explosion in the Aktienbrauerei brewery rocked the city of Mannheim. The accident, claiming one life and injuring four, prompted 22 steam boiler operators into establishing an organisation aimed at increasing the safety of technical plants and systems. On 6 January 1866 they established the “Association for the Inspection and Insurance of Steam Boilers, based in Mannheim”, the predecessor to today’s TÜV SÜD. In the 150 years since then, the concept of an independent and impartial testing and inspection organisation has become firmly anchored throughout the world. Today, TÜV SÜD has around 22,600 employees and a global network of operations – while remaining true to its roots. The company applies high-calibre expertise to test technologies and products and ensure they are reliable, safe and sustainable.
Although the Mannheim explosion served as the inspiration for the foundation of a steam boiler inspection association, the idea had already originated earlier. Industrialisation was progressing and the mid-19th century saw a growing number of serious steam boiler explosions, causing numerous fatalities and resulting in severe damage to buildings and industrial plants. As a result, people were afraid of new technologies. Striking a balance between technological progress and people’s desire to feel safe and secure became a societal need. Faced with the lack of appropriate regulations, steam boiler operators took responsibility into their own hands. On 6 January 1866, the Mannheim-based Steam Boiler Inspection Association was born. The objective and mission of the association was to protect people, physical assets and the environment from the technology-related risks – the same mission that TÜV SÜD pursues around the world today.
An idea gains momentum
Subsequently, the new organisation quickly gained official recognition as a private-sector regulatory body. Initial successes in the field of safety rapidly followed; steam boilers that had undergone inspection were found to be twenty times safer than non-inspected boilers. The comprehensive knowledge of the boiler inspectors and their integrated approach, which also covered profitable operation and training, ensured that the new association and its counterparts were widely accepted by the industry. The number of steam boiler installations increased with the membership figures of the associations and the number of experts commissioned to inspect the systems. Around twenty steam boiler inspection associations were founded throughout Germany within a decade. The association based in the Baden region soon expanded its expertise in steam boilers by adding pressure vessel inspection and expertise in aspects of materials and welding technology. The engineers even drew up a first environmental report on the topic of flue gas emissions – as early as 1870. The predecessor organisation to today’s TÜV SÜD can be said to have assisted in the birth of the German industrial society. The company developed regulations and standards to improve safety wherever there’s a compelling need to do so.
Expanding the scope of testing
After the turn of the century, the association moved into the broadly based field of electrical engineering and materials handling systems, and rapidly added initial safety examinations of pipelines, storage tanks, places of assembly and cable cars to its areas of expertise. As a further milestone in TÜV’s history, on 15 October 1906 the Mannheim Steam Boiler Inspection Association founded a special department for testing vehicles and their drivers: The birthplace of the periodic technical inspection of vehicles is also in southern Germany, in Mannheim. The extensive range of testing expertise was later marked by a change of name; the new organisation became officially known as Technischer Überwachungs-Verein (TÜV; Technical Inspection Association).
New topics, new countries
These Technical Inspection Associations, or TÜVs, played an active role in Germany’s economic recovery after the Second World War. They included what was then TÜV Bayern, the Bavarian association, which began to conduct inspections of full-scale refineries as well as entered the field of plastics technology. To increase the safety and security of every individual, TÜV engineers also began to establish type approvals of devices and appliances for home, leisure and office use. In the 1970s and 1980s the range of testing services was expanded with the addition of computer and microprocessor technology, data protection and occupational health and safety. TÜV’s engineers also conducted research and provided advice on energy efficiency, the use of alternative sources of energy and environmental protection. New areas such as e-commerce, food safety, medical devices and vehicle development have since been added to the company’s breadth of expertise. TÜV SÜD engineers also startet to support their customers in international locations, initially focusing on Noth America and Asia.
The increasing liberalisation of markets, accompanied by mergers of various TÜV organisations, gave rise to today’s TÜV SÜD. The company is currently represented at 800 locations throughout the world. Over 50 per cent of its employees work outside Germany.
Trailblazers in new technologies
Today, TÜV SÜD experts not only inspect, test and certify products but also advise people and organisations. In doing so, they must continuously respond to new development and new trends – but also to new safety risks, new safety requirements and new economic challenges. TÜV SÜD develops new products and services to live up to its slogan, "Choose certainty. Add value". While inspections originally targeted steam boilers and engineering plants, today’s focus areas are increasingly widening to include topics such as process safety, food safety, data protection, data security and complex IT infrastructures.
These activities require qualified multi-disciplinary experts amongst its employees. Over 80 per cent of TÜV SÜD’s staff are academics, and often also qualified authorised experts including engineers, chemists, physicists, computer scientists, food scientists and psychologists. Since 2005, TÜV SÜD has welcomed over 1,000 new employees to the company almost every year.
Further information is available at www.tuv-sud.com/150.
Press-contact: Heidi Atzler