SKF (Svenska Kullagerfabriken)


AB SKF (publ) engages in the design, development, and manufacture of bearings, seals, lubrication systems, and services worldwide. It operates in two segments, Industrial and Automotive. The company offers rolling bearings, mounted bearings and housings, super-precision bearings, slewing bearings, plain bearings, magnetic bearings and systems, industrial and automotive seals, lubrication management solutions, maintenance products, condition monitoring systems, power transmission solutions, test and measuring equipment, vehicle aftermarket, and waste electric and electronic equipment products. It also provides various services, including application engineering, asset management, condition-based maintenance, mechanical maintenance, remanufacturing and customization, and training solutions. The company offers its solutions for various industries, including aerospace, agriculture, cars and light trucks, construction, food and beverage, general machinery, machine tools, marine, material handling, metals, mining, mineral processing and cement, ocean energy, oil and gas, pulp and paper, railways, trucks, trailers, buses, two and three wheelers, and wind energy. AB SKF (publ) was founded in 1907 and is headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden.



The development of SKF is a significant part of the Swedish and global machine industry development. AB SKF is established in Gothenburg in 1907 with the initial capital and startup project for ball bearing manufacturing of Gamlestadens Fabriker AB, under the guidance of co-owners and members of the board Axel Carlander and Knut Johansson Mark, following the invention of the spherical ball bearing by engineer Sven Wingquist. He was an operations engineer in Gamlestadens Fabriker AB and was then appointed CEO and technical manager in SKF. Industrialist Axel Carlander was the first chairman of the board of SKF from 1907 to 1937 during which time he implemented successful industrial and corporate managerial strategies for the startup and growth of SKF and the establishment of its factories outside Sweden.

Historically, the machine industry development and industrial production of innovative technical models depend on both engineering and industrial leaders, on the base of their educational, research and professional experience. In this context, the startup and growth of SKF has become possible due to the engineering experience and inventions of Sven Wingquist and the industrial managerial experience and strategies of Axel Carlander.

In 1906, Sven Wingquist patented the self-aligning ball bearings and in 1907 – the multi-row self-regulating radial ball bearing . He graduated Orebro Technical Elementary School in 1894, whereafter he started working as an engineer in Swedish textile factories, respectively Jonsereds Fabriker from 1896 to 1899 and Gamlestadens Fabriker AD from 1899 onwards. As an operations engineer responsible for repairs and maintenance at Gamlestadens Fabriker AD he sought opportunities to improve the efficiency and endurance of the ball bearings used at the time. Due to that, he was interested in a comparative study from 1902 about ball and plain bearings by professor Richard Stribeck of the Institute of Technology in Dresden, Germany. Sven Wingquist invented the first design of combined self-aligning spherical ball bearing. It was a revolutionary upgrade of the first ball bearing design which was invented and patented by British iron-maker Philip Vaughan in 1794 and the first design of self-aligning spherical plain bearing which was invented by Scottish engineer James Nasmyth around 1840. The historical development of bearing’s design is a result of revolutionary inventions and upgrades for improvement of their efficiency and endurance as well as broadening the scope of their application to a variety of machine industry sectors.

In 1917–1919 Arvid Palmgren, who started working as a research engineer in SKF, invented and patented the first design of double-row self-aligning roller bearing , the production of which continues to this day. He graduated in civil engineering at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm in 1916 and became a Doctor of Technology in 1930 with dissertation thesis on the capacity of ball bearings. Arvid Palmgren is also author of the book ‘Ball and Roller Bearing Engineering’, published in 1945 and 1959.

The startup and growth of SKF depends not only on technical inventions but also on industrial and corporate management strategies and power. Axel Carlander is co-founder of SKF as a co-owner and member of the board of Gamlestadens Fabriker AB, which corporate policy provided conditions for experimenting with the new bearing models and the startup of SKF, and also he was the first chairman of the board of SKF who applied successful managerial strategies to the company startup and its development during the first 30 years. He graduated from the Gothenburg Trade Institute in 1886 and he is second generation industrialist with education and significant managerial experience in the field of economics, trade and industry. He developed his industrial and corporate strategies as co-founder and chairmen of the board of leading companies in Gothenburg, as co-owner and board member of the trade and textile company Johansson & Carlander and Gamlestadens Fabriker AB; co-founder and first chairmen of the board of SKF ; co-founder and first chairman of the board of shipping companies Swedish American Mexico Line ‘SAML’ and Swedish American Line ‘SAL’ ; board member of AB Volvo ; chairman of the City Council ; co-founder, donor and first chairman of Carlanderska hospital , as well as board member of other companies, banks, associations and foundations established for the benefit of business and society. SKF grew as a global company because of his successful industrial and corporate managerial strategies for its startup and growth during the first 30 years - for example in 1930 the company had 12 factories with 21,000 employees, two-thirds outside Sweden.The main corporate strategies of SKF have always been focused on the development and maintenance of the manufactured bearings and the manufacturing bases. As an exception, in 1917 AB Volvo was established at SKF to construct an innovative type of car with the implementation of new bearings. In 1926, the subsidiary automobile company Volvo was founded as an engineering project by Assar Gabrielsson, Bjorn Prytz and Gustaf Larson, and separated as an independent company in 1935. With this innovative startup project, SKF once again contributed to the Swedish and global machine industry development.

Today, SKF Group continues to be a global leader in the manufacture and maintenance of increasingly advanced bearings, such as the SKF Explorer and SKF Energy Efficient .

And the present progress of these bearings is due to the first inventions of Sven Wingquist.

Sven Wingqvist, at the time a thirty-year-old plant engineer responsible for repairs and maintenance at Gamlestadens Fabriker, was dissatisfied with the performance of the ball bearings then in use. In spring 1907, Wingquist presented a breakthrough: a double row self-aligning ball bearing with a spherical raceway in the outer ring, shared by both rows of balls. This allowed the inner ring to align freely in relation to the outer ring, with no negative impact on the function of the bearing. The new bearing solved the problem associated with misalignment of the shafts and thus did away with the frequent production stops. Self-alignment was particularly useful in the less-than-perfect machinery of the times and in buildings with subsidence problems, which was the case at Gamlestadens Fabriker, since much of the land on which Gothenburg has been built is clay.On 16 February 1907, Wingqvist applied for Swedish patent No. 25406, a multi-row self-aligning radial ball bearing. The Patent was granted on 6 June in Sweden coinciding with patents in 10 other countries. The new ball bearing was successful from the outset. Three years after SKF was founded, the company had 325 employees and a subsidiary in the United Kingdom. Manufacturing operations were later established in multiple countries.

By 1912, SKF was represented in 32 countries and by 1930, a staff of over 21,000 were employed in 12 manufacturing facilities worldwide with the largest in Philadelphia, United States.

SKF began its operations in India in 1923 by establishing a trading outpost in Calcutta. The early operations involved the importing of automotive bearings. SKF India Ltd was incorporated in 1961 following a collaboration between AB SKF, Associated Bearing Co. Ltd and Investment Corp. of India Ltd. In 1963, SKF set up its first bearing factory in Pune, Maharashtra.Assar Gabrielsson, SKF sales manager, and Björn Prytz, Managing Director of SKF were the founders of Volvo AB in 1926. In the beginning, the company functioned as a subsidiary automobile company within the SKF group. SKF funded the production run of the first thousand cars, built at Hisingen in Gothenburg, beginning in 1927. SKF used one of the company's trademarked names: AB Volvo, which derives from the Latin "I roll", with its obvious connotations of bearings in motion. The ownership of Volvo lasted until 1935 when the last shares were divested.

In order to expand its international business, SKF decided in 1966 it needed to use the English language. Senior officials, although mostly still Swedish, all learned English in all major internal documents were in English, the lingua franca of multinational corporations. In the 1970s SKF embarked on a massive production rationalisation program in Europe. A visionary project, "Production Concept for the 80s" was launched with the aim to run the night shifts practically unmanned. To increase productivity and safeguard the product quality, a continuous, automatic flow of bearing rings was needed, so SKF developed the Flexlink brand. FlexLink created the multiflex plastic chain conveyor system to solve the business requirements. SKF divested FlexLink as a separate company in 1997.


The undisputed leader in the bearing business

Key Team

Carina van den Berg (Director of Group Controlling & Accounting)

Mr. Mathias Lyon (Gen. Counsel and Sr. VP of Group Legal & Compliance)

Annika Olme (Chief Technology Officer)

Mr. Theo Kjellberg (Head of Media Relations, Director of Group Communication & Press Relations)

Mr. Patrik Stenberg (Head of Investor Relations and Director of Group Investor Relations & Mergers & Acquisitions)

Mr. Kent Viitanen (Pres of Industrial Region Europe Middle East & Africa)

Mr. John Schmidt (Pres of Industrial Region Americas)

SKF (Svenska Kullagerfabriken)
Leadership team

Mr. Niclas Rosenlew (Sr. VP of Group Fin. & CFO)

Mr. Joakim Landholm (Sr. VP of Operations & Digital Transformation)

Products/ Services
Industrial, Industrial Engineering, Industrial Manufacturing, Machinery Manufacturing, Manufacturing, Mechanical Engineering, Software
Number of Employees
20,000 - 50,000
Göteborg, Vastra Gotaland, Sweden
Company Registration
SEC CIK number: 0001585708
Net Income
1B - 20B
Above - 1B
Social Media
Fri Mar 01 2024

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