TÜVs (German pronunciation: [ˈtʏf]; short for German: Technischer Überwachungs-Verein, English: Technical Inspection Association) are German organizations that work to validate the safety of products of all kinds to protect humans and the environment against hazards. As independent consultants, they examine plants, motor vehicles, energy installations, amusement rides, devices and products (e.g. consumer goods) which require monitoring. The many subsidiaries of the TÜVs can also act as project developers for energy and traffic concepts, as problem solvers in environmental protection, and as certification bodies. Many of the TÜV organizations also provide certification for various international standards, such as ISO9001:2008 (quality management system) and ISO/TS16949 (automotive quality management system).
The TÜVs as a group became part of the German landscape about 130 years ago, as part of the public and workplace safety initiatives of the time. To increase the safety of their equipment steam engine and boiler owners founded regional "Dampfkessel-Überwachungs- und Revisions-Vereine" (DÜV) (steam boiler supervision and revision associations) as self-help organizations to independently supervise their boilers. Their success in preventing accidents was such that in 1871 membership in such an association relieved an owner from government inspections of their boilers.
Because of their success in preventing steam accidents they were trusted with other inspection tasks, too, and the DÜVs became the TÜVs. In 1870 there were 43 TÜVs in total. They were geographically based, as they are today, hence the names, SÜD, NORD, Rheinland, etc. The TÜVs were originally formed to inspect steam boiler installations across the country. A major part of their business is still based on the inspection and certification of boiler and pressure equipment. As the years passed and technology progressed, the 43 TÜVs merged and now there are 4 TÜVs remaining in Germany (TÜV SÜD, TÜV NORD, TÜV Rheinland, and TÜV Saarland / SGS TÜV plus one in Austria (TÜV Austria). The largest is the SÜD group with 15,000 employees and 800 locations worldwide. The only commercial certification body in the world compete the TÜVs combined is Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS), with more than 64,000 employees and headquarter in Switzerland.
No German-registered road vehicle can be operated on public roads without a vehicle inspection certificate from the TÜVs or one of their competitors. However for the last two years independent inspectors have also been entitled to grant this certification. In most cases the certificate has to be renewed every two years. A pass in the mandatory roadworthiness and smog test is indicated by tamper-proof decals on the license plate. The TÜV have become so closely associated with this safety inspection ('Hauptuntersuchung') over the decades that the very word 'TÜV' is often used as a synonym for it. Many German car owners wrongly believe the TÜV is a government organization because of the mandatory safety inspection.
The TÜV and DEKRA are also responsible for administering the theoretical and practical driver's license tests. These two associations also issue driver's licenses once the application has been submitted at the city/county government level by the local Strassenverkehrsbehörde aka Führerscheinstelle (road traffic authority or driving licence post) and both tests have been passed. Most vehicle modifications also need to be approved, from installing tires of a different size to materials used in nuts and bolts. The German safety guidelines are among the strictest in the world, and getting a road permit for custom-built vehicles is said to border on the impossible.
The TÜVs as a group also constitute one of the world's largest overall product certification organizations.
TÜV NORD Group
TÜV NORD Group is a technical service provider with worldwide activities. Founded in 1869 and headquartered in Hanover, Germany, the Group employs more than 10,000 people in more than 70 countries of Europe, Asia, America and Africa. The Group generated annual revenues of over € 922.6 million in 2010. The Group is divided into the following business units: Industry Services, Mobility, Training and Human Resources, International, Natural Resources, Aerospace.
TÜV SÜD Group
TÜV SÜD is an international service corporation focusing on consulting, testing, certification and training. At over 800 locations, primarily in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, TÜV SÜD Group employs approximately 19,000 staff. In 2012, sales revenues totalled EUR 1.82 billion. TÜV SÜD Group is headquartered in Munich, Germany.
TÜV SÜD Product Service
TÜV SÜD Product Service is a division of TÜV SÜD based in Munich. There are many major locations for service delivery for the Product Service group and one of them is TÜV SÜD Product Service in the UK, based in Fareham, Hampshire, and TÜV SÜD BABT, based in Hersham, Surrey are part of the Industry Division of the TÜV SÜD Group based in Munich, Germany, which employs over 15,000 people in 800 locations, and is one of the leading technical service companies in the world.
TÜV SÜD Product Service provides testing, certification including CE marking, qualification, training and consultancy services to a range of industries covering the Aerospace, Defence, Medical & Health, Radio & Telecoms, Rail, Trade, Electronics & Consumer sectors.
TÜV SÜD BABT is one of the best known Telecommunications certification bodies, having been established over 25 years ago, following the privatisation of British Telecom, to assess telecom devices and monitor the accuracy of telephone bills on behalf of OFTEL (now renamed OFCOM).
The services offered in the UK include mechanical, environmental simulation, electromagnetic compatibility and safety testing, which can be performed at its two UK facilities, or in situ at clients’ premises. They hold many appointments and accreditations to assess and certify products’ compliance with regulations and thereby facilitate their access to numerous markets throughout the world. They can also issue a wide range of internationally-recognised certification marks that will demonstrate products’ and services’ quality and reliability to customers.
TÜV SÜD America
TÜV SÜD America Inc, a subsidiary of TÜV SÜD AG, is a business-to-business engineering services firm providing international safety testing and certification services. Founded in 1987, TÜV SÜD America has grown to more than 1,000 experts in over a dozen locations throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Operating under the brand names of Product Service, Management Service, Industry Service, Automotive and PetroChem, TÜV SÜD America has partnered with thousands of companies throughout the NAFTA region, assuring product and management systems excellence, and acceptance in the global marketplace.
TÜV SÜD Iberia (Spain)
TÜV SÜD Iberia S.L.U., a subsidiary of TÜV SÜD AG, is a B2B engineering services company providing product testing, certification, audits, as well as Used Car coaching and training. Founded in 1995 in Barcelona, under the name of TÜV SÜD Iberia, S.L.U., TÜV SÜD Spanish subsidiary offers its services to Spain, South America and Portugal with the Group's global view, but adapting to local particularities. In June 2011 TÜV SÜD Iberia acquired Christof Gerhard & Partner Ibérica (CGP Ibérica) and since then it also offers specialised Used Car coaching, training, tools and consultancy to dealers, importers and manufacturers.
TÜV Rheinland Group
TÜV Rheinland Group is a provider of technical services worldwide. Founded in 1872 and headquartered in Cologne, Germany, the Group employs more than 14,000 people in over 490 locations in 61 countries and generated annual revenues of over €1.4 billion in 2011, roughly 40 per cent of which was generated abroad.
A merger with TÜV SÜD (based in Munich) was proposed in 2008, but was shelved as it was believed it would have been vetoed by the German competition watchdog, the Bundeskartellamt, who considered that the merger was anti-competitive (regional monopolies in industrial inspection in Germany ended at the end of 2007) although it would also have achieved synergies in the international market. The merger may be attempted once again, after both companies have had a chance to divest some holdings.
As a subsidiary of TÜV SÜD the TÜV Hessen is partly owned(45%) by the German federal state of Hessia. With a turnover of approximately €100 million and about 1.000 employees, it is much smaller than TÜV Rheinland Group and TÜV SÜD but is a competence center for Expediting and highly specialized electromagnetic compatibility verification.
The "SGS-TÜV GmbH - ein Unternehmen der SGS-Gruppe und des TÜV Saarland e.V." has emanated from a joint venture of the SGS-Group Germany and the TÜV Saarland e.V.. Under the patronage of the common subsidiary SGS-TÜV GmbH the competences had been consolidated in 1998. The headquarters are in Sulzbach, Germany.
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