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150th anniversary of the foundation of TÜV

Today, the TÜV stands for technical safety worldwide.

dpa/Burgi - TÜV
dpa/Burgi - TÜV © dpa/Burgi - TÜV

It is probably Germany’s most sought-after seal: the TÜV licence-plate sticker that confirms a vehicle’s roadworthiness. In fact, this sums up the Technische Übewachungsvereine – or TÜV for short – in a nutshell: they test technical devices with regard to their functionality.

The TÜV idea arose 150 years ago and its history has been closely linked with the industrial revolution and the risks associated with it. In 1865 a steam boiler exploded at a brewery in Mannheim killing one man and injuring four others. The causes were a shortage of water, excessive pressure and poor maintenance. Accidents of this kind had also occurred elsewhere. It eventually caused the owners of boilers to set up an organisation that was meant to increase the safety of technical equipment. On 6 January 1866 they founded the Gesellschaft zur Ueberwachung und Versicherung von Dampfkesseln (Society for the Supervision and Insurance of Steam Boilers). It aimed to make machinery better and, above all, safer in the future.

Now including the certification of management systems

The basic idea of an independent and neutral testing organisation spread far beyond Germany’s borders in the years that followed. Today, TÜV expert do not only test and certify products but entire industrial plants and management systems. Subjects like data protection and data security are also a focus of TÜV testers. They are often highly qualified engineers, chemists, physicists, computer scientists, nutritionists or even psychologists. There are several TÜV companies in Germany. At least 25.1% of their shares must belong to a Technischer Überwachungs-Verein, a self-help organisation of German industry that the state has commissioned to perform specific public duties. The three large holding companies TÜV Süd, TÜV Rheinland and TÜV Nord together employ over 50,000 people worldwide.

The first TÜV association was founded on 6 January 1866