Local connection to the leaders in industry standards

An entire sector adopting your product design as an industry standard is clearly testament to the focus on quality, innovation and technology that has gone into building a company that is a leader in its field.

Through its development within the interconnectivity sector since its foundation in 1945, HARTING Technology Group is the driving force behind the Han® brand (HARTING Norm) which is recognised as the worldwide standard industrial connector.

With its UK location on the Brackmills Industrial Estate in Northampton, HARTING has its origins in Germany, where the Harting family first began manufacturing the electrical products that would eventually lead it into the field of interconnection technology.

Today, the company is a market leader in the fields of electrical, electronic and optical connection, transmission and networking, as well as e-mobility and 3D moulded interconnect devices.

At its Caswell Road headquarters, HARTING UK concentrates on ‘adding value’ to the HARTING European-based connector manufacturing centres. Its sales and production teams work with customers across the country to develop bespoke connectivity solutions for a wide range of sectors including machinery and robotics, rail technology, green energy solutions and monitoring and factory automation. The firm also produces cable assemblies, box builds, kit assemblies, customised products and the assembly of individual or complete systems.

The UK operation was the second international HARTING subsidiary, set up in 1980, originally in Biggin Hill, before becoming one of the first companies to take up residence in 1990 on what today is Northampton’s leading industrial estate.

Peter Hannon, Managing Director of HARTING UK, said: “Through its Han® industrial connectors, HARTING has become a brand leader in the sector and that has a great deal to do with the fact that the company is still run by members of the original family. When it’s literally your name on the product, you’re driven to ensure you are delivering a product to be proud of.

“Unfortunately, our plans this year to mark both the 75th anniversary of the German parent company, as well as 40 years in the UK, have had to be put on the back burner. We had plans in Germany and here at home to celebrate with our customers, suppliers and employees but it looks like 2021 will end up being when we will mostly mark these milestones instead.

“Apart from that disappointment, we have reacted well as a company to lockdown and the effects of the pandemic – our production facility was large enough to allow social distancing, and all the support departments began working from home and, on the whole, continue to do so. We haven’t furloughed anyone, and business has continued pretty much as normal, apart from, in some instances, the reduction in demand due to customers not working as they would normally do.

“No one knows, as it stands, how the future will look, and I would imagine, as a country, we will see increased automation within our processes, in line with what is already happening within the manufacturing and production sectors generally. With all those changes ahead, HARTING can provide the automated technology that will become more prevalent as we adapt to having fewer people in proximity and streamlining production processes both in our own business and for our customers.

“We are also aware that the pandemic has impacted the exhibition sector badly and whether we ever go back to those large events is something, at the moment, we can’t predict. In Germany, there’s much more focus on exhibitions and trade shows, whereas in the UK we tend to find lower levels of activity. But with social distancing set to remain in place to some extent, the way we showcase products is bound to change. Marketing digitalisation is the way forward, and HARTING is at the forefront, helping companies find new ways to successfully reach new markets.”

Gearing up for the ‘new normal’ is hardly an issue for a company that boasts such longevity.

Seventy-five years is a long time for any business, particularly for one where technology plays such an integral part. Having to change and adapt is nothing new to HARTING, where there’s always an eye on how the future looks.

In its first few decades, HARTING focused on products such as waffle irons, cooking plates and energy-saving bulbs, as well as medical equipment, automotive electrics, turntables and portable record players. Once under the leadership of Dietmar Harting, son of the company’s founders, Wilhelm and Marie Harting, the firm began to concentrate on interconnection technology.

This strategy was rewarded and proved crucial for conquering important markets and the development of new business areas. Sales offices across Europe, and in America and Asia were opened in rapid succession. The foreign share of sales doubled from 30% in 1981 to almost 60% in 1999, before reaching around 70% in the 2017/2018 financial year. HARTING became an international technology group and, with its global network of development, production and sales companies, was clearly on course to achieve its declared goal of becoming a ‘global company’.

Today, the company still dominates the field of industrial connectors, and as the face of technology changes – often rapidly and significantly – HARTING prides itself in having the innovation to react to the needs of customers.

Peter Hannon said: “Although we are a world leader in industrial connectivity, it’s important that we still innovate and embrace changing technology. Our products now are not merely providing connection and power but gathering data and monitoring processes so that you’re bringing IT into every aspect of production, right down to the shop floor.

“We’re still the experts in cable assembly and box builds that are specific to customers’ requirements and as technology develops, and we integrate new systems into our products, we see lots of fantastic opportunities ahead. Despite what we have seen over the past few months, we have the highest order book in the UK we’ve ever had.

Peter Hannon continued: “Perhaps another thing the pandemic has done is make people see that the attraction of cheaper manufacturing in China is not the solution it once was. Our aim as a country should be to bring manufacturing closer to home, to continue our inward investment and, with manufacturing in Europe and sales and production facilities in the UK, give customers a real choice.”

Find out more about HARTING UK, email salesuk@harting.com or visit www.harting.com/UK/en-gb