Harwin has been manufacturing electronic components in Britain for more than 60 years for markets including aerospace, defence, robotics, rail and transportation and sports vehicles. While many of its competitors have moved manufacturing to Asia to save costs, Harwin continues to show commitment to the UK, providing employment opportunities at its Portsmouth factory which was recently the subject of a further £2m expansion.
As an R&D driven, engineering-led company, Harwin invests heavily in its people, employing 128 staff in Portsmouth and 144 globally. Developing the next generation of engineers is important to Harwin and it has had apprenticeship programmes in place since 2003 to ensure a flow of the brightest talent through the company. These valued apprentices form approximately 10% of the UK workforce at any one time and are fully integrated into Harwin’s highly-skilled engineering teams.
Currently there are ten people following Advanced Apprenticeships in the Portsmouth facility, where they have the opportunity to learn using the latest manufacturing technology. Many apprentices remain with Harwin after qualifying - a philosophy of training and development exists throughout the company and many employees have more than 20 years’ service, including some current senior managers who joined the company as apprentices.
One example of the success of apprenticeship programs is Scott Flower, currently the Global Product Manager responsible for the high-reliability connector ranges offered by Harwin.
Scott proceeded through various apprenticeship programs including machine shop work on CNC turning and milling, assembly and CAD. During his six-year term as Product Design Engineer with Harwin, he attended multiple courses at the University of Portsmouth covering business, management, marketing and related support services.
This followed a BTEC HNC Diploma in Manufacturing Engineering and a Double Distinction at BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Mechanical Engineering. During his apprenticeship, Scott received the Outstanding Achievement by a Final Year Apprentice - Runner Up, South East region of the EEF Manufacturing Awards
The result of this wide-ranging experience and broad-based education gives Scottr an excellent basis for the development work he undertakes at Harwin. The best example of this is his work as Chief Designer for the G125-series Gecko Connector range www.harwin-gecko.com which has won multiple international industry awards in the UK and USA, including: the ECN IMPACT Awards - Excellence in Packaging and interconnects (May 2014); the EE Times/EDN ACE Awards - Ultimate Products Category (April 2014); and the Elektra - Product of the year award (December 2013).
Receiving the latter award at a Gala celebration night at London’s prestigious Grosvenor House Hotel, hosted by Elektra organisers, Electronics Weekly, the UK’s leading electronics newspaper, Scott said: “I would like to accept this award on behalf of the entire team back in Portsmouth. Winning an Elektra is a validation of Harwin’s policy of keeping all key design and manufacturing processes in the UK.”
Scott is by no means an isolated case at Harwin – many other employees, ranging from shop floor workers to office personnel and senior management, have also benefitted from the company’s apprenticeship programmes and the company will continue to invest in its people as a key cornerstone of company policy.