On 15 May 1876, the two founders of O&K Orenstein & Koppel AG, Benno Orenstein and Athur Koppel, began dealing with smelting works and the mining industry in Berlin. The company´s history started with a revolutionary idea for moving stone and earth. The FieldRailway, a railway with a smaller than normal gauge, proved to be a quicker and cheaper way of transporting mining materials.
At the end of the 1890s, O&K expanded into the manufacture of steam locomotives, passenger and freight wagons. During this period, O&K exported various rail vehicles to many different countries.
At the turn of the century, O&K extended their production programme again, with the manufacture of chain driven bucket excavators. In 1908, the company developed the first scoop excavator:
These machines were all reliant on railways, until 1922 when O&K brought out the first steam driven scoop excavator with caterpillar tracks. In 1926, the transformation from steam power to diesel motors began and, in 1934, O&K introduced their first wheeled shovel excavator.
After 1949, the firm concentrated on machinery primarily for the building trade, especially excavators. In 1955, O&K established itself in Hattingen, following the acquisition of Normag-Zorge.
Altogether, in the second half of the last century, around 78,000 O&K excavators of various types and sizes were produced, with 57,000 hydraulic excavators alone since 1961. 35,000 wheel loaders, 17,500 forklifts, 27,500 graders, auto tippers and dumper trucks were prepared for delivery. In the same period O&K also built 10,000 goods wagons, 1,100 underground or street trams, 900 omnibuses and 1,800 diesel locomotives, as well as 900 open-cast mining machines and, last but not least, 30,000 escalators.
In 1992, following the merger of the main shareholders Hoesch AG and Fried. Krupp AG, the installations and systems department was incorporated into the same division of thenew shareholder Fried. Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, to become Krupp Fördertechnik GmbH. At the end of 1995, O&K sold its shares in O&K Rolltreppen (Escalators) GmbH, through Krupp, to the Finnish elevator manufacturer Kone. At the end of 1997, O&K also sold O&K Mining GmbH to Terex Mining Incorporated.
Early in 1999, the New Holland Group, a subsidiary of Fiat, became the major shareholder. At the end of that year, the New Holland Group merged with Case, to become CNH Global N.V.. In 2000, the Hattingen-based O&K Antriebstechnik was acquired by Carraro-Group.
In January 2016, O&K Antriebstechnik passes under the control of Bonfiglioli Group, which acquired 55% of its shares.