Despite being one of the most established and reputable brands in the electrical industry, not everyone is familiar with MK Electric’s long and rich history. For example, what do the initials MK actually stand for? How have the company’s inventions shaped the electrical industry as we know it today?

In honour of the company’s 100th birthday on 10th February 2019, Emma Segelov, EMEA Marketing Operations Manager, reveals five interesting facts about the company.

1. The company is named after its first product

The iconic ‘MK’ symbol embossed on a front plate is a familiar sight for anyone in the industry. But few people know that MK stands for Multy Kontact, after the name of company founder Charles Arnold’s foremost invention.

MK Electric was originally established as The Heavy Current Electric Accessories Company in February 1919. At this time, most available sockets were split pin-style sockets that were primarily made from thick gauge slotted brass tubes, offering practically no flexibility. Plug pins were split to allow compression, but poorly made small pins would often produce a loose fit and poor contact. Large pins, on the other hand, needed too much force to insert and remove them.

According to the original patent filed in April 1919, the Multy Kontact socket was comprised of "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.”

Flowery language aside, the Multy Kontact was safer and easier to use than anything else on the market at that time. As a result, the British Engineering Standards Association (BESA) revised its standards in line with the levels of self-adjustment and contact-making that the Multy Kontact established. Other manufacturers were forced to update their products to meet the stricter requirements.

2. There have been many ‘firsts’

The Multy Kontact socket was not MK Electric’s, or even Charles Arnold’s, only pioneering invention.

In 1928, Charles Arnold invented the first shuttered socket, described as ‘anti-flash’ and billed as ‘another revolution in socket design.’ It featured automatic isolating caps which concealed and isolated the socket tubes the instant a plug was removed, eliminating the alarming arc of a flame which invariably accompanied plug withdrawal. This set a new standard for electrical safety and formed the basis of the British Standard electrical system as we know it today.

The launch of Logic PlusTM in 1996 saw MK Electric set the standard yet again with its unique and patented 3-pin, child-resistant shutter system.

MK Electric hasn’t just led the way with product development. In 1982, it established the UK Electrical Industry's first Technical Services Helpline, providing a lifeline for electrical contractors who need help on site. A few years later, it was one of the first companies in the UK to achieve BS5750 accreditation for its quality assurance systems at every site.

3. It’s part of a global organisation…

MK Electric was acquired by Honeywell in 2005, a Fortune 100 company with $40.5B turnover. Honeywell invents and manufactures technologies that address some of the world’s most critical challenges around energy, safety, security, productivity and global urbanisation. Its solutions enhance the quality of life of people around the globe and create new markets and even new industries.

As part of Honeywell’s global operation, MK Electric can draw upon a wealth of technologies to help develop the best products and solutions. This global perspective also means MK Electric’s has access to the latest ideas and manufacturing advancements from around the world to drive the development of state-of-the-art, cost-effective products.

4. …but also a British manufacturer

By the 1960s, MK Electric had outgrown its original premises, meaning Charles Arnold had to source a more suitable location for manufacturing. The Southend-on-Sea factory opened in 1961, and despite some initial teething problems – including many of the workers leaving in the summer months to pick hops and fruit – the facility thrived.

Unusual for this industry, the company continues to manufacture products for the UK and some overseas markets at the very same site in Southend-on-Sea, which boasts an independently accredited test lab. In 2014 the company celebrated the production of the 100 millionth socket at Southend facility.

5. It has award-winning apprentices

MK Electric runs apprenticeship schemes with the aim of creating highly skilled labour to safeguard the future of the business. After all, a skilled workforce is indispensable and will help carry MK Electric through the next 100 years of operations.

Most recently, MK Electric had two apprentices (Tim Mann and Thomas Hunt) shortlisted for BEAMA’s Young Manufacturers Award. Thomas (pictured) went on to be crowned the 2018 winner of the competition, which is testament to the incredible head start that a high-quality apprenticeship can give a young person’s career, as well as the value of companies investing in such schemes.

In 2012, MK Electric celebrated the success of Adam King, a technician from the Southend-on-Sea factory.

Adam was selected to be a part of then-Business Minister, Mark Prisk’s ‘30 under 30’ list of rising stars in the manufacturing industry. He was selected for being a true high-flyer and his ability to identify creative ideas for process improvement. Following this achievement, he became an ambassador for the ‘Make it in Great Britain’ campaign.

Employing the best talent has not only helped MK Electric to reach a centenary, but also ensured that its continued innovation. It’s crucial that the industry works together to preserve its workforce by ensuring these skills are passed down to the next generation.

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