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Posted on Jul 3, 2024 by Samara Husbands

Serving as Sony’s European flagship manufacturing site, Pencoed combines local interests with global excellence

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Opened by Queen Elizabeth II and in service for over 30 years, Sony Europe BV’s Pencoed, Wales location is crucial to its European operations – but its environmental efforts, educational programmes and social responsibility set it apart from the pack. Formally known as Sony UK Technology Centre and spanning 30,000 sq m, Pencoed acts as the company’s only site outside of Asia, making it a flagship destination for a worldwide market.

“Our Pencoed operation is unique in the range of solutions we offer, including manufacturing, servicing and customer support – both remotely and on-site,” says Richard Wilkins, GM sustainability and compliance. Sony’s 4K cameras, audio equipment and PTZs come out of Pencoed. As well as its own high-end broadcast and professional camera products, Pencoed also manufactures products from third parties, “including the Raspberry Pi computer,” notes Wilkins.

Products created at Sony Pencoed make their way all around the world – from Wimbledon to the World Cup, stadiums to studios and OB vans. 

Sustainable society

Nestled in south Wales, Pencoed represents the interests of its local Welsh communities. “Pencoed has put sustainability at the heart of its operation and has an extensive programme covering the key areas of environmental, community engagement, diversity-equity-inclusion and accessibility,” comments Wilkins. In other words, sustainability is a major aspect to every part of Pencoed.

Putting words into practice, Pencoed has heavily invested in solar PV electricity generation, with over 1700 on-site solar panels which generate 14% of the grounds’ total energy demand. “Our environmental management has been recognised as achieving ISO 14001 since 2004 and, in 2023, achieving the Green Dragon Level 5 certification, which is Wales’ highest environmental accreditation,” Wilkins details.

Pencoed’s sustainable initiatives typically overlap, with employees actively involved in the company’s charity volunteer programme. 

“Staff give up their own time to assist in activities such as on-site, beach and park litter-cleaning events, charity bike rides, sponsored walks, charity golf and football days,” describes Wilkins. Thanks to these and other fundraising events, Sony Pencoed has managed to raise more than £280,000 for its adopted charity – the Princess of Wales Hospital Children’s Ward – since partnering with it back in 2013.

Sony Pencoed’s overall mission falls under the slogan ‘For the Next Generation’, and seeks to address five of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: zero hunger; life below water; life on land; peace, justice and strong institutions; and partnerships for the goals.

Back to school

Besides extensive sustainability initiatives, Sony Pencoed runs a wide-ranging education programme that encompasses the STEM fields, filmmaking and environmental studies. Since its inception in 2012, “the programme has hosted more than 25,000 students from schools, colleges and universities across Wales and wider afield,” explains Wilkins. Offered free of charge and aligning with British curriculum, each programme has a specific aim – whether it’s to increase computer science capabilities, promote good environmental practices or highlight creative roles.

Aimed at years 5 and 6, Sony’s Film in a Day programme teaches students the step-by-step process of filmmaking using its pro-grade kit, including green screens. The workshop covers script development, directing, acting, camera operating, lighting, costuming and more – and students will leave with their credits on an edited short film.

Girls into STEM, which is run in partnership with the Engineering Education Scheme Wales (EESW), exposes young women to careers in the STEM fields (traditionally male-dominated fields) with an emphasis on Sony’s own operations. They also meet with Sony’s leading women, who share their own experiences of STEM-related employment.

The Forest Schools, hosted in Pencoed’s on-site nature centre, also holds “employee allotments, fruit orchards and beehives,” says Wilkins. In partnership with Tanio, this programme combines nature and mindfulness, with students participating in team-building activities and creating art from natural resources while learning – both explicitly and implicitly – about biodiversity and sustainability.

Sony Pencoed represents not only the interests of its locale, but also the company at large, making it a true centre of excellence.

This feature was first published in the Summer 2024 issue of Definition.

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