From 21st-25th June, Wales Tech Week takes place for its second year and to celebrate the virtual festival, Sony UK Technology Centre (UK TEC) reflects on the successes and challenges faced over the last year and discusses how they relate to the topics featured within the agenda of the festival, including their service offering, educational programs, ‘green’ initiatives and collaborations within the community.
The five-day festival which aims to showcase how technology is “impacting, enabling, and improving our lives” mirrors UK TEC’s commitment to supporting specialist organisations and professional services, the local community, and the environment through manufacturing excellence.
Sony UK Technology Centre is not only the sole Sony manufacturing centre of excellence for broadcast and professional equipment in Europe but is also the home of a highly skilled on-site Service Centre and Refurbished division. These departments work to breathe new life into older broadcast equipment, ensuring professional and consumer customers are equipped with the products they need to pursue their passions within the industries and hobbies they love.
As part of this commitment to offering inclusive innovative technology, over the last 12 months, the Pencoed-based, award-winning facility marked several milestones. The site invested in new talent as part of its apprentice schemes, educational partnerships and Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) workshops to encourage young engineering enthusiasts to evolve their technological skills; virtually raising funds for charities close to the hearts of their “Team Players” and offering vital support to their 600+ employees in the form of wellbeing literature, engagement activities, such as competitions and awards distribution, and virtual “TEC Talks”, to enhance skills and broaden knowledge during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Alongside these achievements, as global demand from the medical and learning sectors soared due to the impact of the pandemic, the Welsh site began manufacturing the Raspberry Pi4 8GB computer. The product saw sales leap to 640,000 units in March, a jump attributed to the growing demand for home working and learning technology during the coronavirus outbreak as well as the product being used during the manufacturing of medical ventilators treating COVID-19 patients, and virus tracking technology worldwide. In conjunction with the success of the Raspberry Pi, Sony UK TEC launched its Technology Operations Research Manufacturing business venture, formed to open its collaborative manufacturing division to external businesses.
As part of their commitment to technological education, this year, Sony UK TEC announced their 4-year Higher Apprenticeship Scheme in search of the latest round of talented Electronic Engineers from across South Wales. Sony also partnered with the Ospreys ‘in the Community’ arm to launch the educational ‘Try Pi’ initiative. This project was aimed at encouraging pupils across South Wales to become more digitally literate to create an interactive rugby game through coding. It is thanks to these programmes that the number of pupils learning coding at Sony UK TEC soared to over 4,000 during 2020, with a record 202 pupils recently taking part in the programmes in just one week.
In addition to their service offerings and educational initiatives, Sony, which produces HD broadcast cameras and high definition 4K cameras for worldwide distribution, has rolled out several ‘green’ initiatives to reduce their impact on the environment. Specifically, with product development and business protocols in mind, the facility hopes to achieve a zero environmental footprint by 2050 by decreasing annual energy consumption and the use of plastic packaging.
Sony UK TEC’s Director of Professional Services, Gerald Kelly said: “As we approach a week devoted to celebrating Wales’ emerging technology industry, we want to raise awareness of how we at Sony UK TEC aim to inspire the younger generation to be forthcoming in exploring their passion for innovation. We also want to showcase our service offering and our commitment to supporting key sectors across the globe by making a positive contribution to the health of our planet. Despite the influence of COVID-19, Sony has been incredibly privileged to have seen such fantastic business growth and success once again, despite the circumstances and hope to have inspired other companies by leading by example during such unprecedented times.”