The Voith Group, which is headquartered in Germany, is a family-owned multinational corporation in the mechanical engineering sector as well as the automation and IIoT business with worldwide operations.

Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA
GmbH & Co. KGaA (100% family-owned)
IndustryIndustrial machinery, Automotive industry,
Mechanical engineering
FounderJohann Matthäus Voith
HeadquartersHeidenheim an der Brenz, Germany
Area served
Key people
Dr. Toralf Haag (President and CEO)
ProductsPower transmission and paper processing units (primarily involving gears and torque converters)
Number of employees
19,535 [1]
DivisionsVoith Turbo, Voith Hydro, Voith Paper, Voith Digital Ventures

The Voith Group is led by the headquarters in Heidenheim, located in the German State of Baden-Württemberg. Here, the headquarters serves as a management-holding, with the executive board establishing general business strategies, taking overall responsibility for the groups operations, and providing support to the group's affiliate companies.

The Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA has around 19,535 employees worldwide, with over 7,500 working in Germany. For the business year 2017/2018, the consolidated group had a volume of sales of €4.209 billion.

Company history


The Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA began as a small craftsman's workshop in the former Kingdom of Württemberg. In 1825, Johann Matthäus Voith took over this workshop from his father Johannes, which employed five craftsmen, and made tooling and spare parts for local mills. The same site used by the original workshop is now the home of the Voith GmbH Headquarters.

In the mid-19th century, Johann Matthäus Voith began developing machinery for spinning mills, wool re-processing and printing presses. In 1848, he began working with the Heidenheim paper producer Heinrich Voelter (18171887), with the common goal of mass-producing paper. At that time, series production of paper had failed due to the lack of rag-fiber which was used as the raw material. Wood however, being a plentiful renewable resource, was seen as an alternative. The very first patent for producing paper from wood pulp was awarded to Heinrich Voelter and Friedrich Gottlob Keller in 1846. Johann Matthäus Voith studied that patent, and then dramatically improved Keller's design. As a result, the first Raffineur (Wood Pulp Refiner) was born in 1859 – a machine that significantly refined raw wood pulp and therefore greatly improved the quality of paper.

Turbine production

In 1867, Johann Matthäus Voith transferred control of the company to his son Friedrich, which had 30 employees. In that same year, Friedrich Voith officially registered the company in the local trading register for the first time under the name: Maschinenfabrik (Engineering Works) J. M. Voith. In 1869, Voith received his first patent for a wood grinder. This wood grinder was a major step forward for paper mills: allowing them to use economical, renewable cellulose-fiber, while improving paper quality, and setting the cornerstone for modern newspaper publishing. In 1881, Voith delivered the first complete paper-making machine to Raithelhuber, & Cie in Gemmrigheim, Germany. Voith's invention had opened an entirely new market, and a surge in new orders helped his company to rapidly expand. By the mid-1890s, Voith machines were available for every stage of the paper-making process.

During the same timeframe, Voith began working on turbines. By 1879, the first Voith turbine regulator had been built, based on the designs from Adolf Pfarr, and it proved to be a decisive step for the generation of electricity through the force of water. By 1890, Voith had even begun deliveries of a high-pressure open-jet turbine. And in the same year, Friedrich Voith was named by King Karl I of Württemberg to join his council of commercial advisors in recognition of his successful business achievements. At the company's 25th anniversary in 1892, 330 people were employed by Voith, and it was one of the largest companies in the Kingdom of Württemberg.

The first Voith subsidiary, located in St. Pölten, Austria, was founded in 1903, and in that same year, Voith received the largest order in its history: Voith was to build the world's largest water turbines, having 12,000 horsepower (8,948 kW), for the Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station.

Voith Drive Technology

In 1911, Voith built the fastest and widest machine of its time for reel-fed printing papers, at its plant in St. Pölten, Austria. Shortly thereafter in 1913, Friedrich Voith died, and left behind a company with 3,000 employees, and a leading position in the paper, as well as energy markets. His three sons then shared the company's management responsibilities: Walther took charge of the St. Pölten plant, Hermann managed the commercial affairs in the main facility in Heidenheim, and Hanns headed the technical department.

After World War I, the three brothers decided to expand the company and to concentrate on drive technologies. By 1922, Voith had begun building transmission gear assemblies, based on its fluid-dynamics know-how gained from previous turbine projects. This turned out to be yet another breakthrough, which was achieved with the aid of Hermann Föttinger, and his research on hydrodynamic energy transfers. In that same year, the first Kaplan turbine was produced by Voith, being named for its inventor Viktor Kaplan.

By 1929, the first Voith hydrodynamic couplings based on the Föttinger Principle were in use at the Herdecke pumped-storage hydropower station. Thereafter, similar transmissions for road and rail vehicles were developed. At the same time, the company became known for the hydrodynamic drives and transmissions that it supplied to industrial production facilities. In addition, Voith launched a new product, the Voith Schneider Propeller (VSP) for commercial vessels. This new marine drive could significantly improve the manoeuvrability of a ship, being invented by the Vienna engineer Ernst Schneider, and enhanced by Voith.

After successful sea trials on the test boat Torqueo, in 1937, the first Voith Schneider Propellers were put into operation in the narrow canals of Venice, Italy. During the 1937 World Fair in Paris, Voith was awarded the grand prize – three times – for its exhibition of Voith Schneider Propellers and Voith turbo-transmissions. A year later, two of Paris' fire-fighting boats started operating with the new VSP system.

Following the death of Hermann Voith, Hanns Voith led the company in 1942. Later on 24 April 1945, when American troops occupied Heidenheim, it was Hanns Voith who personally surrendered the city to the US Army. During World War II, 600 of the company's 4,000 employees had either been killed or were missing.


Following World War II, Hannes Voith and Hugo Rupf served as Executive Board Chairman. The company's first post-war delivery was a Voith turbine for Norway in 1947. In 1949, eight Voith Schneider Propellers went to the United Africa Company, 46 Voith turbo-transmissions were shipped to Brazil, and in 1951, a new paper-making machine was delivered to the Netherlands. At the same time, Voith released its new triple-converter transmission for motorised railcars, and its DIWA bus transmissions. In 1953, Voith produced Europe's fastest newsprint paper machine for the Feldmühle AG: running at speeds of 600 metres/min, and producing up to 200 tons of newsprint each day. At the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels, Voith was awarded a gold medal for developing the first turbo-transmission for the diesel-hydraulic locomotives of the Deutsche Bundesbahn (German Railways).

Throughout the 1960s, Voith expanded internationally. In 1962, Voith participated on Europe's largest pumped-storage hydroelectric power station, the Vianden Pumped Storage Plant, in Vianden, Luxembourg, by supplying two spiral turbines, four storage pumps, and two pump turbines. For years later, Voith set another record by delivering the widest newsprint machine in the world to Sweden. Between 1962 and 1966, the company also made major investments in the Indian company Utkal Machinery Ltd., and the Spanish company Talleres de Tolosa. Voith also took over the tooling and paper machine manufacturer Dörries, as well as founding new sales offices in Great Britain and France. In addition, a new subsidiary was founded in Brazil in 1964: the Voith S.A. in São Paulo.

In the 1970s, Voith developed its centrimatic clutch, and the R130 retarder for buses and utility vehicles. In the US, Voith founded a subsidiary in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1974, and also became the major shareholder of Morden Machines in Portland, Oregon. Two years later, Voith founded its first Japanese subsidiary. Following the death of Hanns Voith, Hugo Rupf became the company's Managing Director in 1971, and in 1973, he became the Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Following the acquisition of Appleton Mills, USA in 1983, Voith entered the market for paper machine clothing. In addition, Voith took over the hydropower operations of the US market leader Allis Chalmers in York, Pennsylvania. Within a few years, Voith expanded its US workforce from 200 to 1,300. In 1985, Voith also entered India, establishing a production plant in Hyderabad.

In the 1990s, Voith began to expand its operations in the Far East, concentrating on China. In 1994, Voith supplied the turbines for the world's largest pumped storage hydroelectric power station at Guangzhou II. Also, two years later, Voith received the contract to build the world's largest fine-paper machine in Dagang. In Kunshan and Liaoyang, China, the company also opened new production plants in 1996.

Under the leadership of Michael Rogowski, who had been Voith's spokesman since 1986, the company was reorganised, and it became a management-holding, with independently operating commercial sectors. In the following years, Voith's technical masterpieces were the introduction of the R115 integrated retarder in 1988, and the commissioning of the largest European deinking facility in Schongau in 1989.

In 1994, Voith and the Swiss company, Sulzer, merged their technical paper production activities and in 1999 Voith acquired the technical papermaking operations of the British company, Scapa. The next year, the Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation was founded as a joint venture between the two international leaders in turbine and generator technologies.

In 2000, Voith's leadership also changed hands, with Michael Rogowski handing over the company's operational responsibilities to Hermut Kormann. Under his leadership, Voith has become a worldwide, family-run company - with orders totaling €4 billion, and a workforce of 34,000 people. A key development has been Voith's entry into the field of technical industrial service. By assuming the controlling interest in the DIW Deutsche Industriewartung AG, Stuttgart, the cornerstone was laid for the new commercial division: Voith Industrial Services. In past years, this division has seen considerable growth and other acquisitions have also followed, including: The Imo-Hüther Group, the US Premier Group and Hörmann Industrial Technologies.

In May 2006, the new Voith Paper Technology Center was opened in Heidenheim. In Scotland, Voith's subsidiary Wavegen introduced the first wave-driven generator that can supply electricity to a local power grid.

On 1 October 2010 the holding company changed its legal form from Aktiengesellschaft (AG) to GmbH.[2]

In 2013, the Chinese hydropower plant Xiloudu began operations. The hydropower plant is equipped with the most powerful turbine/generator units in the history of Voith. After a test run of 72 hours, Voith delivered the first of three turbine/generator units to the China Three Gorges Corporation. With a power of 784 megawatts, these Voith turbine/generator units generate more power than the worlds largest hydropower plants. The overall performance of the three Voith units will keep up with the most powerful nuclear power plant in Germany, located in Gundremmingen.[3]

In April 2014, Voith ceremoniously opened the Voith China Training Center, located in Kunshan (approximately 80 km north-west of Shanghai). In the same year, Voith celebrated the official opening of a new training center located in Heidenheim. Worldwide, Voith trains 1,294 apprentices and students.[4]

In 2016, Voith finalized the disposal of Voith Industrial Services.[5] Subsequently, Voith founded a new Group division named Voith Digital Solutions.[6]

In 2017, the holding company switched its legal form to GmbH & Co. KGaA. The year 2017 was marked by celebrations on the occasion of Voiths 150th company anniversary in locations all around the globe.[7]

Corporate organization

The Voith Group consists of four Group divisions: Voith Digital Ventures, Voith Hydro, Voith Paper, and VoithTurbo. Overall management of the group is provided by the Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA executive board which serves as a management-holding, being supported by a stockholder committee as well as a supervisory board.

Voith Hydro

Voith Hydro (formerly Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation) is a joint venture between Voith and Siemens, which is now a system supplier for hydropower stations. Currently, a third of the world's hydroelectric power is produced with turbines and generators from Voith Hydro including major projects such as: Niagara Falls (1903), Itaipu (1976), Three Gorges Dam (2003), and Lam Takhong Dam (2016).

Voith Hydro GmbH & Co. KG, Heidenheim, Germany
Large Scale Projects, Small Hydro, Control and Automation Technologies, Integrated Service
Comprehensive equipment for hydroelectric power stations: Francis turbine, Pelton turbine and Kaplan turbines, as well as pump turbines.
Generators or generator-motor units for all turbine types, sensor and diagnostic systems, frequency converters, safety systems, switching systems for all voltages and transformers. Automated operations and control systems for power stations, remote control stations, optimization and diagnostic systems.
Consulting, engineering, assembly and commissioning. Servicing and modernization of existing hydroelectric power stations. Storage pumps, as well as radial, semi-axial and axial flow pumps.

Voith Paper

Voith Paper is a supplier in the international paper industry, supporting all aspects of the paper-making process from fibers to end products. Voith Paper's product portfolio includes machines for newsprint paper, protective and specialised papers (decorative paper, thermal paper, cigarette paper, tissue paper) as well as graphic papers, sanitary papers and paperboard. Worldwide, one third of the global paper production is performed on Voith Paper production systems.

Fiber & Environmental Solutions
Paper Machines
Process solutions for the production of graphic papers, board & packaging papers, tissue, specialty papers
Complete systems for new and existing machines, as well as solutions for upgrades and rebuilds
Fabric & Roll Systems
The Fabric & Roll Systems Division provides forming press and dryer fabrics, as well as press sleeves; roll covers and coatings; service for complex rolls, cylinders and components; on-site service; measuring technology; diagnostic solutions; and roll design and optimization

Voith Turbo

Voith Turbo specializes in mechanical, hydrodynamic, electric and electronic drive systems, as well as braking systems. Worldwide, these systems are used in industrial plants, as well as in road and rail vehicles. In the field of turbo-transmission, Voith Turbo-Transmissions is the world's market leader. The Voith Retarder, is one of the best known hydrodynamic braking systems and is found in many utility vehicles. In addition, other Voith drive systems, such as the Voith Schneider Propeller, are used by marine vessels.

Industrial, Road, Rail, Marine, and Trading
Industrial products: Hydrodynamic couplings (fluid couplings), adjustable hydrodynamic couplings, variable speed planetary gear Vorecon, torque-converters, mechanical couplings, hydraulic systems and components, Hirth couplings, high-duty universal shafts, safety couplings, highly flexible couplings, turbo gear units, actuators and control systems for steam and gas turbines.
Road products: Automatic transmissions for buses, hydrodynamic retarders and shock absorbers for buses and utility vehicles.
Rail products: Drive systems for rail vehicles such as turbo-transmissions, bogie transmissions, anti-slip differentials, universal shafts, cooling systems, Scharfenberg couplings (automatic, semi-permanent) as well as bumpers and locomotive technologies.
Marine products: Voith Schneider Propellers, Voith Water Tractors, Voith Cycloidal Rudders, Voith Turbo Fins, and Voith Water Jets.

In 2005 Voith Turbo started production of its Voith Maxima and Voith Gravita series of locomotives; transitioning from a component supplier to a full vehicle supplier. The production was stopped in 2014.[8]

Voith Digital Ventures

The Group Division Voith Digital Ventures bundles the Voith Group's long standing automation and IT expertise with the deep know-how in the fields of water power, paper machines and drive engineering. As an incubator, this Group Division is pushing for the development of new digital products and services. For decisively shaping the digitalization of mechanical and plant engineering, Voith is driving the industrial Internet of things (IIoT) forward. The Group Division plays a central role for Voith in digital innovations and applications for new markets as well as the development and responsibility for existing and new digital venture activities.

This Group Division was founded in 2016 and offers a portfolio of industry specific digital solutions:

  • Automation systems
  • Electrical drives and electrification
  • Control solutions
  • Auxiliaries
  • IIoT solutions
  • Service solutions
  • Actuators and sensors

Voith Digital Ventures plays a central role in digital innovations and applications for new markets as well as the development and responsibility for existing and new digital venture activities.

New Ventures:

  • Voith Robotics
  • Voith Innovation Lab
  • Ray Sono
  • merQbiz
  • Flow Link

Facts & Figures

Segment information by Group Division in the 2017/18 fiscal year*[9]
Group Division Volume of Sales in € millions Orders received in € millions Profit from operations in € millions Capital spending in € millions Employees worldwide
Voith Hydro 1,103 856 77 13 3,927
Voith Paper 1,746 1,995 114 34 6,618
Voith Turbo 1,302 1,378 76 22 5,543
Voith Digital Ventures 40 - - 46 21 2.256
Reconciliation 18 - -10 4 1.191
Total 4,209 4,285 211 94 19.535

* September 2018

The Voith family

In 1825, Johann Matthäus Voith (18031874) took over the machining workshop with five craftsmen from his father Johannes in Heidenheim, Germany, which today is still the site of Voith's headquarters. In the original workshop, tooling and spare parts were produced for local paper and textile mills.

In the mid-19th century, Johann Matthäus Voith began developing spinning machines, wool reprocessing machines and printing presses. In 1848, he began working with the Heidenheim paper producer Heinrich Voelter (18171887), with the common goal of mass-producing paper via a new method using wood pulp processing. Here, Johann Matthäus Voith refined this new process, and in 1859 he created the first "Raffineur", a machine that refined the raw wood pulp and thereby significantly improved the quality of paper products. When his son Friedrich Voith (18401913) eventually took over the company, it had 30 employees.

Friedrich Voith designed and building his own version of a Voith wood grinder for the Uhingen paper mill, and improving the design of the original Raffineur. In 1869, he was awarded his first patent for this new design. The new pulp processing machine further enhanced the quality of paper, making large scale production possible and laying the cornerstone for modern newspaper publishing.

At about the same time, Friedrich Voith decided to begin working on water-driven turbines, and in 1870, the first Voith turbine was delivered. In 1873, the first Francis turbine was produced, and in the same year Friedrich Voith was awarded a Medal of Achievement for his innovations at the World Fair in Vienna. Thereafter, Voith decided to move beyond the production of individual components for paper machines. In 1881, he built a new machining plant, the Maschinenfabrik J. M. Voith, and he delivered the first complete paper-making machine to his customer Raitelhuber, Bezner & Cie. in Gemmrigheim, Germany.

By the end of the 19th century, Friedrich Voith was busy developing new business contacts in Europe and overseas. His company, now offered machinery covering the entire spectrum of paper production and it was the market leader. In recognition of his accomplishments, in 1890, King Karl I of Württemberg selected Voith to join his economic council. Later in 1903, Friedrich Voith founded the first Voith subsidiary in St. Pölten, Austria. At the time of Friedrich Voith's death in 1913, his production plants in Heidenheim and St. Pölten employed over 3,000 people - including his three sons, Walther, Hermann and Hanns, who also worked in different parts of the company.

Following the death of Friedrich Voith, his sons Walther (18741947), Hermann (18781942) and Hanns Voith (18851971) jointly managed the company.

Walther Voith took charge of the St. Pölten plant with 230 employees. Hermann Voith managed the overall commercial affairs from the Heidenheim factory, and Hanns headed the technical department in Heidenheim. Together, they expanded the company's role in industrial drive technologies, and in 1929 Voith produced the first hydrodynamic coupling and transmission using the Föttinger Principle.

After the deaths of his older brothers, Hanns Voith assumed sole ownership of the company. Following World War II, Hannes Voith and Hugo Rupf, who served as Executive Board Chairman, then launched the company into a new phase of growth. Under Hanns Voith's leadership, the development and construction of paper-making machines reached a new record. Voith also began its international expansion, investments in other businesses were made, and some company take-overs occurred. A milestone during this period was the founding of the Voith S.A. in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1964. Shortly afterwards, Hanns Voith died on 7 January 1971.


Chairman of the Board is Dr. Toralf Haag who succeeded Stephan Schaller in October 2018. Supervisory Board Chairman is Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. E.h. Hans-Peter Keitel. His assistant is Gerd Schaible, Deputy Chairman, head of secretariat of the corporate works council of Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA, Heidenheim/Germany.

Current Corporate Board of Management

See also


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