Syfer looks to scale back UK operation as it considers move to Far East

Syfer Technology is considering opening up a manufacturing facility in China which could lead to the possibility of job losses at its facility in Norwich. Purchased by the Dover Corporation (USA) in 2000 Syfer has grown steadily with export sales providing a key driver, especially from the Far East, and as a result that has encouraged Syfer to consider taking space in an existing Dover manufacturing plant in Suzhou, located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China.

The Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) is the largest cooperative project between the Chinese and Singaporean governments and is located beside Jinji Lake, which lies to the east of the Suzhou Old City.

Syfer has developed a broad range of multilayer ceramic products winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2008 with the launch of ‘FlexiCap’ to be used in safety-critical environments. Other innovations include: ‘ProtectiCap’, a range of compact devices, supplied with a built-in protective coating, designed to prevent flashover in high voltage applications, and ‘StackiCap’ a new product family that the company believes could help to revolutionise the world of multilayer chip capacitors (MLCCs) by dramatically increasing the maximum capacitance values available in larger case size and high voltage parts.

The company is now on the verge of investing in new technology and production processes which will require high capital investment. In assessing how to manage this Syfer is looking to the east which is likely to have a significant impact on its operation in the UK. MD Howard Ingleson explained, “Many of our raw materials come from that area of the world and, with much of our sales going that way too, it is right that we consider manufacturing there too. The opportunity of an existing Dover factory would also mean we could be up and running much quicker.”

Syfer manufactures a comprehensive product range including many application-specific, as well as standard multilayer ceramic capacitors. It is these bulk produced components that Syfer proposes would be the subject of the relocation whilst the production of Planar capacitor arrays, of which Syfer is the world”s leading supplier, would remain in Norwich. The company’s range of ‘panel-mounted’ and ‘solder-in’ EMI filters are currently assembled at another Dover owned facility in Mexico.

If the proposal goes ahead, around 120 full time production staff could be affected by the move with the remaining 100 or so staff being engaged in specialist production, Sales and R & D. According to Ingleson, “Within The Dover Corporation, Syfer is one of three companies making ceramic based electronic components and our R & D role is seen as crucial within the Group in the coming years.”

A consultation over the proposal has begun with those employees that may be affected and their representatives.


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