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75 years of HARTING innovations that changed the industrial arena

From family business to global corporation
Lars Kühme
Lars Kühme
Manager Media and Public Relations, HARTING Stiftung & Co. KG
75 years of HARTING

The exciting company history of family-owned and managed HARTING tells of 75 years of inventive talent, a rich culture of innovation, entrepreneurial acumen, numerous awards and above all of people who have had a lasting influence on industry and manufacturing. Thanks to their quality, many products and solutions have established themselves as standards. What all HARTING generations have in common is a keen instinct for the future. Drawing on their visionary prowess, the family members succeed in motivating the company’s employees anew, day in day out, in developing ideas and taking performance to new heights. After 75 years, "Pushing Performance" is also a good reason to celebrate!

1945 Founding spirit and economic miracle years

It all started out on some 100 square meters and a crew of 10 employees. At the Wilhelm Harting Mechanical Workshops, the founding couple Marie and Wilhelm Harting turned out everyday products such as hotplates, electric firelighters and irons in the post-war period. Setting off on her bicycle, Marie Harting would deliver these items to the first customers in exchange for bread and other foodstuffs.

After only 5 years the company had already grown to 170 employees, generating sales in excess of DM 1.2 million.

In the Germany of the fifties, Wilhelm Harting satisfied his clientele's hunger for entertainment with jukeboxes, a record player with a 12-slot changer and portable record players. In the sixties, sales shifted to cigarette vending machines and the product that would be ushering in the future: the connector.

75 Years of HARTING
HARTING has been an exhibitor at the Hanover Fair since 1947. 2016 German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama at the HARTING stand

1956 - 1960 HAN connectors – the game changers

In the post-war period, the up-and-coming German industry needed connectors – as rugged, easy to handle and versatile as possible. This marked the birth of HAN®, a name that stands for HARTING standards and quality in over 70 countries today. This development, and above all the further development of the HAN® connector to the rectangular shape of the Han A® connector, contributed significantly to the company's success and global expansion. The advent of the new Han B® rectangular connectors expanded the standard further still.

Following on the sudden death of his father, Dietmar Harting, a graduate physicist, took over the business together with his mother Marie in 1967. At the time, the company’s workforce already counted almost 1,000 employees. The rapidly developing semiconductor technology favoured the company's expansion, also abroad. Responding to demands for trilateral contacts, HARTING launched a new generation of connectors in accordance with DIN 41612.

On the occasion of the company's 25th anniversary, 1,305 employees generated sales in excess of DM 42 million.

1975 – PCB connectors

HARTING was quick to meet the demands for increasingly compact components. The miniaturization trend resulted in PCB connectors becoming smaller, more compact and at the same time more powerful. This development towards increasingly compact components will continue to strongly shape the HARTING product range for decades to come.

75 Years of  HARTING
Smaller circuit boards require different connector sizes.

1979 Internationalization

The HARTING Technology Group quickly established an international reputation as a manufacturer of high-quality products that represented quasi-standards in a wide range of manufacturing sectors. A number of European subsidiaries were founded, and by 1989, foreign sales already accounted for 40% of total sales.

75 Years of HARTING
1979 - HARTING plant 2. production on 50.000 m2

1987 - 1993 The evolution of connectors

Han-Com® is the first connector to offer greater modularity by combining power and signal contacts. But developments did not stop here. With the demand for data transmission, a completely new generation of connectors is suddenly required: The har-bus® connectors.

In the 1990s, customer demands made on connectors became increasingly complex: electronic, optical and gaseous signals had to be transmittable. Over the years, the Han-Modular® developed into a successful and strong selling HARTING product series, and became the market standard for modular industrial connectors. The series combines power, signals and even compressed air in a single connector.

1995 – The railroad sector: a driving force of new products

The special requirements in rail vehicle construction gave rise to a number of decisive HARTING innovations. The call for greater energy efficiency and lower weight meant that connector solutions would have to provide entirely new product characteristics.

Han®HPR has been specifically designed to deliver installation and process benefits. The extreme environmental demands in the railway sector resulted in an entirely new housing solution. The Han®HPR meets the demands for higher pressure tightness and a larger housing volume for large cable cross sections, in addition to improved EMC performance.


Industry 4.0, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence

HARTING's connectivity products and the MICA® in particular have enabled the Smart Factory as a digital concept of Industry 4.0. Manufacturing companies are benefitting from the automated condition monitoring of their plants or predictive maintenance, e.g. based on RFID. These are all topics and areas that HARTING is serving with its solutions. The communication of tools, plants and containers via the Internet of Things requires corresponding technologies for data transmission. Entirely new generations of connectors and cabling solutions are entering into the picture here.

The use of Artificial Intelligence as a key technology, e.g. for determining the optimum order sequence and machine utilization and ensuring associated short downtimes thanks to integrated maintenance intervals, as well as rapid order processing and the elimination of delivery delays are major customer advantages in global competition.

The Harting family "Future needs origin"

What does it take to turn a family business based in Minden, East Westphalia, into a global corporation generating annual sales of 750 million euros and over 5,000 employees? A strong family, with a great deal of competence, commitment and passion. In only three generations, the founders Marie and Wilhelm, their son Dietmar with his wife Margit, and their children Philip and Maresa have built up the company and developed it to what it is today. In-depth electrical engineering and industrial engineering know-how, matched by a sound grasp of economics and business administration are the foundation of their competence, with which they have advanced the company's expansion, entered into new markets and consistently extended the product range. Over the years, they have developed a keen instinct for customers and their complex wishes, as well as a knack for the right timing – as their success clearly reflects.

The list of awards and honours, as well as the professional and voluntary commitment of all four family members are decidedly impressive. The motto of "future needs origin" probably best describes this visionary and at the same time down-to-earth family.

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