MK Electric close to a ton of innovation and local manufacturing

Oct 01, 2009

This December marks the 90th anniversary of the first patent award to Charles Arnold, founder of MK Electric: the invention heralding the advent of the UK’s leading manufacturer of electrical devices and accessories.

The patent – granted on December 18th 1919 – was for the ‘Multy Kontact’ socket, the product on which the company’s initial success was based. Described as having "numerous flexible spring tongues which actually grip the pin in much the same manner as the legs of two caterpillars on opposite sides of a flower stem", the Multy Kontact was unveiled in a patent entitled Improvements in or relating to Socket Tubes for Connectors, Wall Sockets and the like.

Arnold’s first factory in Edmonton, London, had a workforce of just three people. By this, its 90th year, MK now has nearly 900 employees in the UK – and still concentrates its manufacturing for the UK on factories in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, and St Asaph, Clwyd.

As a result of Arnold’s drive for innovation, MK essentially invented the modern light switch and a safety socket with a three-pin shutter system that prevents fingers from getting into danger. These are now so commonplace that it is impossible to ignore the fact that they were the foundation for the British domestic electrical system.
Indeed, the company’s 100 millionth Safetyplug rolled of the production line as long ago as November 1984 and, in fact, there are probably very few, if any, homes, shops, offices or business premises in the country without a plug, socket or other electrical device with that distinctive MK logo on it.

Design excellence is still key features of the company’s commitment to the electrical industry; recently evinced by a host of launches from Echo, the company’s wireless, batteryless, self-powered switch technology, and Astral, a versatile and intelligent MESH network system incorporating Zensys RF communication technology; through to new ranges of energy saving and lighting management products, and a bespoke Design Service for ‘specials’.

Mike Southgate, MK Managing Director, commenting on the imminent anniversary, says: “Innovation was critical to Charles Arnold’s approach to business and product design; and those values are still very much alive in MK Electric 90 years on. We have taken his legacy and continue to build on it by offering the best designed, highest quality and safest and most reliable products on the market.

Furthermore, we are also focused on meeting the challenges of ‘future building’ with an industry leading approach to energy efficiency and sustainable development”.