The facility was originally built in 1952 under the Marconi name. It is now Leonardo, one of the top ten global players in Aerospace, Defence and Security and Italy's main industrial company.
The company operates from 6 main sites in the UK, with 7000 employees and £2 billion revenues, of which 50% are in exports from the UK, supporting 25,000 jobs in a UK supply chain of 1600 companies, most of them SMEs. Each site has a distinct role within the company in UK, managed by a lead business division, and each is an important part of its local economy as well as providing national capabilities to the UK customer and in export from the UK. The six sites are:
Aerospace, Defence and Security.
The Basildon site which today has 750 employees, traces its beginnings to the 1910s for communications and the 1950s for electro optics, with regional facilities in the East of England which have been brought together through industrial mergers. For many years, these facilities were part of Marconi.
Originally sited in Basildon during its 'New Town' development in the 50s, Leonardo was able to take advantage of a pool of highly skilled engineers and researchers which led to the company developing a number of breakthrough technologies. Today the company still bases its competitive edge on having technology that is often world-leading, so having access to the Essex area's population of degree-educated engineering, maths and science professionals is absolutely crucial.
Today the site produces capabilities for land intelligence and surveillance electro optic systems, for both tactical and long haul military communications, as well as for force protection surveillance and electronic counter measure systems, especially in the counter explosive improvised device (C-IED) role. These equipments are in service with the British Army, the Royal Marines and with export customers. Other technology applications include precision guidance systems for land and airborne missiles, mainly for UK applications.
Capturing rare wildlife nocturnal behaviours for BBC documentaries
The BBC is just one of the organisations to have discovered the power and value of Basildon’s thermal imaging sensors by adapting them to bring a new perspective to wildlife documentary series.
SLX Merlin cameras enabled BBC production teams on AutumnWatch and The Great British Year to capture previously unseen nocturnal animal behaviours around the UK. This included footage of owls hunting, along with badgers, foxes, hares, rabbits, bats and voles all going about their lives under the cover of darkness.
The camera helped deliver award-winning footage of leopards hunting in Mumbai, as part of Planet Earth 2, presented by David Attenborough.
You can watch the SLX Merlin Thermal Imaging camera tell the captivating story of a pride of lions in Africa’s Masai Mara, in the next edition of David Attenborough’s 'Dynasties' series on BBC 1 at 8pm on Sunday 25 November.
Ensuring out is out!
Elsewhere in the ‘field’, international cricket introduced new technology in November 2006 – as part of the Ashes Test Series in Australia – in an effort to deliver accurate umpiring decisions.
BBG Sport’s ‘Hot Spot’ was designed to enable a third umpire to review a dubious decision on screen, by using an infra-red imaging system to determine whether the ball has struck the batsman, bat or pad. Trials continued in the following years, before BBG Sport introduced a new generation of Hot Spot, underpinned by Leonardo’s SLX Hawk thermal imaging camera, in 2012.
The cameras provide sharper images with improved sensitivity and much less motion blur than earlier Hot Spot technology, resulting in the new system detecting much finer edge touches than in previous seasons. Such has been the success of the technology, that Leonardo now has an exclusivity agreement into which it now provides the Horizon HD thermal imaging sensor.
From Basildon, the Company has been recognised several times regionally and nationally in the English National Apprenticeship Awards scheme and in November 2018, the company was awarded the Investors in People GOLD Standard.
Earlier this year, the MOD announced that Leonardo had won the annual Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award, along with other top businesses in Britain, in recognition of our outstanding support for the Armed Forces community. In November, our Company was presented with the award by HRH the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward and the Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson.
Leonardo is committed to The Armed Forces Covenant, which is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly. In our pledge, we support the employment of a wide range of veterans; all of our employees who choose to be members of the Reserve or Cadet Forces; as well as our local cadet units in either our local community or local schools. We have also updated our HR procedures to be inclusive and provide our Reservists with the flexibility they need to carry out training and other duties.
Commenting on the award, Basildon employee Nicola Triggs (pictured below) said:
"As a Leonardo employee of 16 years and a Royal Naval Reservist for nine, Leonardo has been very supportive of my reserve commitment and gives me extra days leave for training, which is a big help, otherwise it could take an extremely long time to achieve trained strength. When I was mobilised, HR helped me sort all the paperwork, and my boss was very supportive. On my return I came back to the same role and a catch up session was organised to make it a smooth transition back in to the business."
The Basildon site is home to an enthusiastic team of STEM Ambassadors comprised of Apprentices, Graduates and experienced Engineers, who mentor local school children across the local region to help them build their confidence and aspirations in the field of engineering. They take a practical approach to this engagement, encouraging them to participate in the site’s annual Robotic Games, International Women in Engineering Days and Sons and Daughters to Work Days.
DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
Leonardo in the UK has recently launched a Diversity & Inclusion Programme as this is a commercial imperative and to help us stay relevant, attract a broad pool of talent, grow our brand and of course improve our competitiveness, we need to reflect and evolve with society.
Norman Bone, MD says:
“Diversity and Inclusion aren’t just buzzwords, they are concepts that I believe need to underpin everything we do. Ensuring we provide a working environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable to be themselves, is not only the right thing to do but it’s also in our best interests as a business: Having an inclusive and diverse workforce has been repeatedly proven to promote greater commercial success."
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