Knorr-Bremse is a manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles that has operated in the field for over 100 years. The company also produces door systems for rail vehicles and torsional dampers. In 2006, the Group's workforce of over 13,000 achieved worldwide sales of EUR 3.1 billion.
Inventor Georg Knorr founded knorr-Bremse in 1905 in Berlin. The initial basis for the company's commercial success was provided by an agreement with the Prussian State Railways to supply single-chamber express braking systems offering considerably enhanced safety performance compared with traditional systems. In the early twentieth century, train guards still had to operate the brakes by hand, from so-called "brake vans." The first pneumatic brakes were of a basic design, but before long, indirect automatic systems using a control valve were developed.
The second main area of activity for Knorr-Bremse emerged in 1922, when they moved into pneumatic braking systems for commercial road vehicles. Knorr-Bremse was the first European company to develop a new pneumatic system that applied the brakes simultaneously to all four wheels of a truck as well as its trailer. The resultant reduction in braking distances made a significant contribution to improving road safety.