SKF History

Reducing friction and cost. Saving energy and time. Explore the timeline below to see how SKF Knowledge has helped develop industries and improve everyday life since 1907.

Explore the timeline to see how

  • Offices
  • Production sites
  • R&D centres
  • Solution Factories
  • 1907-1919
    SKF map 1919 0901d196801ab8b9
    Quick facts:
    Turnover 1919:
    SEK 100 million

    Employees:
    14,000
    Sven Wingquist's first sketch

    Sven Wingquist's first sketch from 1907

    Sven Wingquist

    Sven Wingquist, inventor of the double-row self-aligning ball bearing

    The factory in Hartford, US was built 1915

    The factory in Hartford, US was built 1915

    The workers in Gothenburg posed for a photograph outside the factory in 1916

    The workers in Gothenburg posed for a photograph outside the factory in 1916

    • 1907    
      Aktiebolaget Svenska Kullagerfabriken founded on 16 February 1907. Sven Wingquist, inventor of the double-row self-aligning ball bearing, was one of the founding members and the first Managing Director. Axel Carlander was Chairman of the Board. The share capital amounted to 110 000 kronor. A patent application was filed on 6 June. Patents were eventually granted in ten countries. The first factory was built at Säve Strandgata, Gothenburg.

      1908   
      Branch offices opened in Germany and France. Agents appointed in Finland, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Austria and Australia.

      1909   
      Subsidiary formed in New York - SKF Ball Bearing Co. A small workshop opened in Paris. Agents appointed in Italy, Argentina and Japan.

      1910    
      Skefko Ball Bearing Co. Ltd in the UK registered. Work started on a plant in Luton. Agents appointed in Norway, Portugal and The Netherlands.

      1911   
      The factory in Luton opened, producing approximately 180 bearings per day. Branch offices in France and Germany became limited companies. Agents appointed in Russia, Spain and Poland.

      1912   
      Laboratory built in Gothenburg. Agents appointed in Bulgaria, Rumania and Mexico and, through the English company, in India, China and South Africa.

      1913   
      Company formed in Denmark. Agent appointed in Serbia. SKF had 3 200 employees and manufactured 1.3 million bearings.

      1914   
      Subsidiaries formed in Norway, Belgium, Holland and Russia. Aktiebolaget S.A. des Roulements à Billes Suédois SKF formed in Gothenburg to manage business in Brazil. The British SKF company set up a sales company in South Africa.

      1915    
      Manufacture begun of a single row bearing with filling slot, the "Volvo bearing". A new company formed in Hartford, US and a factory built. Branch office opened in Rio de Janeiro and agent appointed in Uruguay. Sales company founded in Norway.

      1916   
      The SKF share introduced on the Stockholm stock exchange. Hofors Bruk, one of Sweden's oldest mining and ore smelting installations, was acquired. In USA, The Hess-Bright Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia was acquired. Subsidiaries formed in Austria and China. Acquisition of Grönkvists Mekaniska Verkstad in Katrineholm, Sweden. New company formed to manage sales in South America. Its first branch offices were opened in Argentina and Chile.

      1917   
      A new ball bearing factory built in Bois-Colombes, France. Sales companies formed in Canada and Uruguay, the one in Canada as a subsidiary of the USA company. Agents appointed in Hungary and Siam.

      1918   
      The Atlas Ball Co. in Philadelphia acquired to secure the supply of steel balls in the USA. Sales office opened in Peru. The factory in Moscow was nationalized.

      1919   
      Björn Prytz replaced Sven Wingquist as Managing Director. Subsidiaries formed in Italy and Czechoslovakia. Office opened on Java. Bearing production decreased by 23% as post-war industry was not yet back to normal. The manufacturing and sales organizations in the USA combined under the name of SKF Industries, Inc. Arvid Palmgren designed the spherical roller bearing.
  • 1920-1939
    SKF map 1939 0901d196801ab8bb
    Quick facts:
    Turnover 1939:
    SEK 460 million

    Employees:
    40,000
    SKF Bearings, 1921

    SKF Bearings, 1921

    In 1926 AB Volvo, a subsidiary of SKF, produced a trial series of 10 cars

    In 1926 AB Volvo, a subsidiary of SKF, produced a trial series of 10 cars

    SKF Gothenburg, Sweden 1938

    SKF Gothenburg, Sweden 1938

    • 1920 
      Subsidiary formed in Mexico and branch offices opened in Australia and Algeria.

      1921   
      Agent appointed in New Zealand. Sales company formed in Zürich, Switzerland.

      1922    
      End of recession. Subsidiaries formed in Poland and Yugoslavia. Agents appointed for Latvia, Egypt, Ecuador, Paraguay, Guatemala and El Salvador. Product range extended to include tapered roller bearings. Office opened in Vienna to organize and supervise sales in Eastern Europe. The Japanese agent acquired and became an SKF subsidiary.

      1923    
      Production increased gradually. Subsidiary formed in Cuba, with sales to Colombia and Venezuela also covered from there. Skefko, Luton, opened branch office in British India, also to cover sales to Burma. Agents appointed in Estonia and Lithuania. 

      1924   
      Economic recovery continued with a new production record of nearly 6.5 million bearings. Subsidiary formed in Greece. Supervision of sales in Eastern Europe and the Balkans transferred to an office in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

      1925    
      Subsidiaries opened in Spain, Bulgaria, Rumania and Egypt. Agents appointed in Colombia and Venezuela. Nordiska Kullager AB in Gothenburg acquired.

      1926   
      AB Volvo, a subsidiary of SKF, produced a trial series of 10 cars.

      1927    
      Subsidiaries formed in Portugal, Bolivia and Venezuela. Agent appointed in the Philippines.

      1928   
      Share capital increased to 106 million kronor and the SKF share traded on the London stock exchange. Majority shareholding acquired in the French company Compagnie d'Applications Mécaniques (CAM). Subsidiaries formed in New Zealand, Turkey and Hungary.

      1929    
      The SKF share introduced on the Paris stock exchange, and through an agreement with a banking firm in New York, could be exchanged for American certificates on the New York Produce Exchange and Chicago stock exchange. Seven German ball bearing factories acquired. A new company formed in Germany - Vereinigte Kugellagerfabriken A.G. Production concentrated to Schweinfurt and Cannstatt. Lidköpings Mekaniska Verkstads AB acquired.

      1931   
      German head office moved from Berlin to Schweinfurt. Next economic depression began.

      1932   
      Subsidiary formed in Japan.

      1933   
      Production increased. Subsidiary formed in India. Agents appointed in Iran and on Cyprus. Factory closed in Hartford, US and head office and manufacture moved to Philadelphia.
       
      1934    
      Subsidiaries in Venezuela and Ecuador dissolved and agents appointed. Agent appointed in the Dominican Republic.

      1935    
      The SKF share introduced on the Geneva stock exchange. AB Volvo became independent of SKF.

      1936   
      Egyptian subsidiary divested. Agents appointed in Cairo and Beirut.

      1937   
      SKF vocational school opened. Uno Forsberg replaced Björn Prytz as Managing Director. Björn Prytz elected Chairman of the Board.

      1938   
      The LMV factory in Lidköping, Sweden considerably expanded. French ball bearing company Malicet et Blin (MAB) acquired. New ball bearing factory built outside Berlin. Sven Wingquist succeeded Björn Prytz as Chairman of the Board.

      1939   
      Sales company formed in Bratislava, Slovakia. Agents appointed in Estonia and Nicaragua. A new bearing type – the spherical roller thrust bearing – developed and launched by SKF.
  • 1940-1959
    SKF map 1959 0901d196801ac107
    Quick facts:
    Turnover 1959:
    SEK 1,900 million

    Employees:
    45,000
    In 1957 SKF acquired the Hellefors steel mill

    In 1957 SKF acquired the Hellefors steel mill

    SKF Headquarters, Gothenburg, Sweden

    SKF Headquarters, Gothenburg, Sweden

    • 1940   
      Subsidiaries formed in Manchukuo, Poland and Australia. New factory acquired in Philadelphia, US. Agent appointed in Iceland.

      1941   
      Subsidiary formed in Shanghai. Company in Bolivia closed and agent was appointed. The agencies in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania ceased their activities when these countries were occupied by the Soviet Union. Harald Hamberg succeeded Uno Forsberg as Managing Director.

      1943   
      Branch offices in Argentina and Brazil became subsidiaries. The Polish company liquidated.

      1947   
      Two new factories in the USA. Sales company formed in Helsinki.

      1948   
      Post-war production began slowly in Schweinfurt and Cannstatt. The factory in Czechoslovakia nationalized. Branch office in Santiago formed into limited company. Agent appointed in Yugoslavia.

      1949   
      Construction begun on a factory in Scarborough, Canada.

      1950   
      Work begun on factory at St-Cyr-sur-Loire, France, as well as on one in Madrid, Spain. The company in Amsterdam started to build a factory in Veenendaal. A new spherical roller bearing, the "C bearing," was introduced.

      1951   
      The American company bought a factory in Altoona, USA. Rebuilding of the German factories completed. New factory opened in Sundon, UK.

      1952   
      The French company started a sales company for Morocco based in Casablanca. The Belgian company opened up an office in Elizabethville in the Belgian Congo.

      1953    
      Sven Wingquist died on 17 April at the age of 76. He was succeeded by Harald Hamberg as Chairman of the Board. Joel Larsson was appointed new Managing Director. The Dutch sales company moved to Veenendaal where the new factory was inaugurated.

      1954   
      Cold rolling mill, J.N. Eberle, in Augsburg, Germany acquired. Harald Hamberg died and was succeeded as Chairman of the Board by Jacob Wallenberg.

      1957   
      Acquisition of Hellefors steelworks and associated cold rolling mill at Bångbro.
  • 1960-1979
    SKF map 1979 0901d196801be200
    Quick facts:
    Turnover 1979:
    SEK 11,000 million

    Employees:
    54,000
    A typical advertisement the early 1960s

    A typical advertisement the early 1960's

    Sao Paolo, Brazil 1962

    Sao Paolo, Brazil 1962

    • 1962   
      Factory built outside São Paulo, Brazil. Inge Stenberg succeeded Joel Larsson as Managing Director.

      1963   
      A research centre was built in King of Prussia, USA.

      1964   
      Rolling bearing factory inaugurated in Poona, India, in which SKF had the majority shareholding. Inge Stenberg died and was succeeded by Folke Lindskog as Managing Director.

      1965   
      RIV-SKF formed by SKF, obtaining two-thirds of the shares in the Italian rolling bearing company RIV, with factories in Argentina and Spain.

      1966   
      Tools company, Malcus AB, in Halmstad, Sweden, acquired. Rolling bearing factory inaugurated in Uitenhage, South Africa.

      1970   
      SKF had 68 factories with 67 700 employees, 78% of whom were employed outside Sweden.

      1971   
      Factory in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia inaugurated as the result of a joint venture agreement with a Yugoslavian company. Jacob Wallenberg retired and was succeeded by Folke Lindskog as Chairman of the Board. Lennart Johansson was appointed new Managing Director.

      1972   
      New research centre inaugurated at Nieuwegein, The Netherlands.

      1974   
      SKF gained complete control over the Australian rolling bearing company of which it had been joint owner since 1959.

      1975   
      Majority shareholding in The Sheffield Twist Drill and Steel Company acquired. Factory for textile machinery components opened in Singapore.

      1976   
      Parent company name changed from Aktiebolaget Svenska Kullagerfabriken to Aktiebolaget SKF. SKF Industries Inc., PA, acquired McQuay-Norris Company, St. Louis, MO, a manufacturer and distributor of automotive components and spare parts.

      1978    
      SKF-CAM closed the factory in Bois-Colombes. The Echuca plant in Australia closed after the government changed import regulations.

      1979   
      The Fiat Group sold its minority interest in RIV-SKF to the SKF Group. Joint venture with IKL, the Yugoslavian company in Belgrade, concluded.
  • 1980-1999
    SKF map 1999 0901d196801c008a
    Quick facts:
    Turnover 1999:
    SEK 36,700 million

    Employees:
    41,000
    Nilay, Malaysia 1992

    Nilay, Malaysia 1992

    SKF service engineers guiding an SKF CARB bearing into the bottom half of an SDM housing

    SKF service engineers guiding an SKF CARB bearing into the bottom half of an SDM housing

    • 1980   
      SKF business supervision for Eastern European markets transferred from Vienna to a newly founded subsidiary, SKF Eurotrade AB in Gothenburg. SKF resumed activities in Zimbabwe after 12 years with no access to this market. Minority shareholding in the Iranian bearing company in Tabriz was divested. Folke Lindskog retired and was succeeded by Peter Wallenberg as Chairman of the Board.

      1981    
      Plant in Scarborough, Canada, closed.

      1983
      Factory in Ivry, France closed. Bearing production in France concentrated in two factories: Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire and Fontenay-le-Comte. Anderton International, UK, acquired.

      1984   
      Fägersten & Co., Sweden acquired.

      1985   
      SKF share introduced on the Basel and Zürich stock exchanges and in New York through the NASDAQ system. Stellana Plast AB acquired. SKF Española became wholly owned subsidiary. Waldes Truarc Inc., acquired. Joint venture with Koyo bearing company in Japan started. Peter Wallenberg retired as Chairman of the Board and was succeeded by Lennart Johansson. Mauritz Sahlin was appointed Managing Director, replacing Lennart Johansson.

      1986   
      MRC Bearings, USA acquired. Mexican bearing company IBISA became a wholly owned Group subsidiary. SKF Steel merged with Ovako Oy Ab to form Ovako Steel AB, of which SKF owned 50%.

      1987   
      Acquisition of three companies within linear motion: Jacob AG, Switzerland, and Transmatic in Sweden and Norway, as well as Ateco in The Netherlands. Italian spindle and ball screws manufacturer Gamfior acquired.

      1988   
      Acquisition of Austrian bearing company, Steyr Wälzlager Ges.m.b.H. The British company AMPEP P.L.C., manufacturer of plain bearings for aircraft, acquired. SKF College of Engineering started. New sales companies in Thailand, Hong Kong, and an office in the Philippines, opened. SKF's national distributor in Indonesia formed a new company, P.T. Skefindo Pramatama. A consignment centre in Shanghai opened in cooperation with the Shanghai export trade organization.

      1989   
      Majority shareholding in Palomar Technology International Inc., USA, acquired. Palomar manufactures equipment for condition monitoring of rolling bearing. Bearing factories in Bangalore, India and Guarulhos, Brazil inaugurated.

      1990   
      Italian tools company Cofler & C.S.p.A. acquired. Seals manufacturer CR Industries acquired. Oil seals activities of Italian Gallino Gomma S.p.A. acquired. SKF Tools merged with German Günther & Co. to form CTT Tools. Dymac, San Diego, specialists in vibration monitoring, acquired. SKF Tools acquired substantial assets in Union Butterfield Corp, US manufacturer of high-speed steel cutting tools. Acquisition of Fixtur-Laser, Sweden, manufacturer of laser measurement instruments.

      1991   
      Acquisition of Swiss company SMM, manufacturer of high-speed spindles for spinning machines. German subsidiary Seeger-Orbis GmbH acquired two factories in East Germany. Channel concept introduced in the manufacturing operations. Sales companies opened in Poland and Bulgaria.

      1992   
      Operations started at the new plant in Malaysia. CTT Tools division was sold. Lennart Johansson retired and was replaced by Anders Scharp as Chairman of the Board.

      1993   
      Ball bearing production plant in Madrid was sold. Stellana AB, Fixtur-Laser AB, and French subsidiary ADR.S.A. sold as a result of SKF's increased focus on its core business, rolling bearings and seals.

      1994   
      Goetze Elastomere GmbH, seals manufacturer, acquired. SKF European Distribution Centre in Tongeren, Belgium, inaugurated.

      1995    
      CARB toroidal roller bearing launched. Joint venture company for manufacture of wheel hub bearing units established in Korea. 80% of Polish bearing company FLT Poznan acquired. Mauritz Sahlin retired and was replaced by Peter Augustsson as Managing Director.

      1996   
      Joint venture with subsidiary of China Railways. New plant for manufacture of wheel hub bearing units built in Aiken, USA, in collaboration with SKF Technical Center in Detroit.

      1997
      New joint ventures in China, one for the manufacture and sales of spherical roller bearings together with the Wafangdian Group, and the other a new company for the manufacture of oil seals as a joint venture between Chicago Rawhide and ANZAG. Series production began at SKF Hanwha Automotive Components Corporation in Korea. Majority shareholding acquired in Indonesian bearing company PT Logam Sari Bearindo in Jakarta. FlexLink Systems AB sold. SKF and Revolve Technologies Inc. in Canada established a new company, Revolve Magnetic Bearings. Majority shareholding acquired in Lutsk Bearing Plant, Ukraine.

      1998   
      A further joint venture in China was formed with Wafangdian Bearing Co. Ltd. US manufacturer of machine tool spindles, Russell T. Gilman, acquired. Sune Carlsson appointed President and CEO. SKF Group certified to ISO 14001.

      1999   
      SKF Textile machinery Components with operations in Cannstatt, Germany and Singapore was sold. Forging unit at Arvika, Sweden sold. Partnership established with Gamfior, Italian manufacturer of ground ball screws. SKF Explorer bearings introduced. The e-business network, Endorsia.com, launched.
  • 2000-2012
    SKF map 2009 0901d196801c0089
    Quick facts:
    Turnover 2009:
    SEK 56,227 million

    Employees:
    41,172
    In 2006, SKF was certified to the health and safety management standard OHSAS 18001

    In 2006, SKF was certified to the health and safety management standard OHSAS 18001

    SKF 100th anniversary, 2007

    In 2007, SKF celebrated its 100th anniversary

    SKF Solution Factory

    The network of SKF Solution Factories extended, comprising 17 units at the end of the 2010

    The new Jinan factory was inaugurated 2012

    The new Jinan factory was inaugurated 2012

    • 2000   
      The following acquisitions were made: Development Engineering International, a maintenance engineering consultancy company, Scotland;  Machine Support BV, The Netherlands, specialist in precision geometric alignment; Sealpool AB, Sweden, supplier of sealing systems; Diagnostic Instruments Ltd, Scotland; Electrac S.A., French manufacturer of electromechanical actuators. Lidköping Machine Tools was sold. SKF, FAG and NN Ball and Roller started joint venture for ball manufacturing. Outstanding shares in Revolve Magnetic Bearings acquired.

      2001
      Gamfior S.p.A., leading Italian manufacturer of high-precision motorized spindles and ball screws, acquired. The FILO drive-by-wire concept car developed jointly by SKF and the design company Bertone. SKF and Timken formed joint venture in Brazil to produce bearing rings. SKF Logistics Services opened its new Asian distribution centre in Singapore. SKF signed an agreement with Sandvik, Rockwell Automation, INA and Timken to share ownership of Endorsia.com. SKF Manufacturing Development Centre established in Gothenburg, Sweden.

      2002   
      SKF Reliability Systems expanded with the acquisition of Delta Consult in The Netherlands and Erin Engineering and Research in the USA. Further acquisitions were Magnetic Group, Switzerland, a leading manufacturer of electromechanical actuators; Aerospace Bearings UK, manufacturer of bearings for main shafts and gearboxes for jet engines; SBB in Bulgaria with four bearing factories; and The Twentieth Century Machine Co., a USA manufacturer of ground ball screws. SKF Bearings Co. Ltd. in Shanghai, a new joint-venture factory, started production of small size deep groove ball bearings.

      2003    
      Tom Johnstone succeeded Sune Carlsson as Managing Director and CEO. Acquisitions were Scandrive Control AB, Swedish manufacturer of servo gears for the printing industry, and Rolling Stock Supply & Service Pty Ltd, Australia, specializing in service of railway bearings. Component manufacturing operations in The Netherlands sold. SKF decided to leave the Paris, Zürich and NASDAQ stock exchanges.

      2004   
      Willy Vogel AG, a world leader in lubrication systems, acquired. An Industrial Services Centre was opened in Moscow, Russia. Remaining 40% of Anhui CR Seals Co., Ltd. in China acquired.

      2005   
      The SKF share was delisted from the London Stock Exchange. Jaeger Industrial Ltd in Taiwan, a leading manufacturer of electromechanical actuators, acquired. Acquisition of Sommers Industriteknik AB, distributor of Vogel lubrication systems in Sweden. SKF, Rautaruukki and Wärtsilä combined their long steel businesses into a jointly owned company, Oy Ovako AB.

      2006   
      SKF was certified to the health and safety management standard OHSAS 18001. Acquisition of 51% of the shares of the North American seals company Macrotech Polyseal Inc. SKF Life Theory adopted as the new ISO standard for bearing life calculations. SNFA SAS, a leading French manufacturer of bearings for aerospace and machine tool applications, acquired. A leading Finnish lubrication systems business was acquired. SKF, Rautaruukki Corporation and Wärtsilä Corporation sold Oy Ovako Ab. Precision Balancing & Analyzing in the US, specialist in repair and upgrading of machine tool spindle mechanisms, acquired. Monitek, leading Australian predictive maintenance services company, acquired. Economos Austria Gmbh, an industrial seals company, acquired.

      2007   
      SKF celebrated its 100th anniversary. Production started at three new factories in Asia, one in China and two in Korea. Important acquisitions were ABBA, a manufacturer of linear guides with headquarters in Taiwan; S2M, a leading French magnetic bearing company; Baker Instruments, a leading manufacturer of testing and diagnostic instruments in the US; Automatic Lubrication Systems, a service company for Canadian mobile transportation equipment; Preventive Maintenance Company Inc, a US-based market leader in predictive maintenance services. The forging business at the Lüchow plant in Germany was sold. New product and service launches include a new range of energy-efficient bearings which provide at least 30% less friction in the bearing.

      2008
      Acquisitions in 2008 included American QPM Aerospace’s metallic rod business; two factories in China and one in Thailand from the US-based PEER Bearing Company; Cirval S.A., an Argentine company specialized in design, manufacture and sales of centralized lubrication systems. Anders Scharp retired as Chairman of the Board and Leif Östling was elected new Chairman. The energy efficient bearing family was extended with the addition of spherical and cylindrical roller bearings. In light of weakening demand SKF announced at the end of the year that it would be reducing capacity and costs.

      2009
      Remaining 49% of Macrotech Polyseal Inc, USA, were acquired. The company is now renamed SKF Polyseal. The network of SKF Solution Factories was extended. This is a concept that brings together SKF’s entire service offering. Together with Cambridge University, the SKF University Technology Centre on Steels was set up at Cambridge campus. SKF Global Testing Centre opened in Bengaluru.

      2010
      The SKF University Technology Centre on Tribology was set up in conjunction with Imperial College London. Two new factories opened in India (Hardiwar and Ahmedabad) and one in Russia (Tver). New SKF Industry Service Centres opened: for wind industry in Shanghai and Houston; for oil and gas industry in Aberdeen and Stavanger; for marine industry in Rotterdam. The SKF Global Technical Centre China opened. The network of SKF Solution Factories was extended, comprising 17 units at the end of the year. US-based lubrication systems company Lincoln Holdings Enterprises was acquired.

      2011
      The cage factory in Gothenburg was sold. The SKF University Technology Centre on Sustainability and Environment was set up together with the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. SKF Distributor College, started in 2001, awarded its 100 000th certificate. The college offers training to SKF distributors. A Latin American Distribution Centre was opened in Montevideo, Uruguay. A second factory for production of medium size bearings was opened in Dalian, northeast China. Factory in Brazil extended to produce advanced wheel bearings. SKF Global Technical Centre India was opened in Bengaluru, and an SKF University Technology Centre on condition monitoring and asset management was established together with the Luleå Technical University, Sweden.

      2012
      SKF Group acquired US-based General Bearing Corporations. SKF developed a range of Knowledge Engineering apps for the mobile market. A Guinness World record was set at Liseberg and SKF supported the Kim Källström Trophy during Gothia Cup. The integration and re-branding of SNFA was completed. SKF increased focus on sustainability and launched a aggressive climate strategy and a partnership with WWF to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The BeyondZero concept was revealed with a portfolio of solutions with significant environmental benefits. SKF celebrated 100 years in China with new investments and inauguration of a new factory in Jinan, China.