Forging a Greener Future: Sustainability in UK Sheet Metal Fabrication

In the heart of industrial prowess, the sheet metal fabrication industry plays a crucial role in shaping the backbone of the United Kingdom’s manufacturing sector. However, as the world grapples with environmental challenges, the industry faces a pivotal moment in redefining its practices for a sustainable future.

The Current Landscape

The sheet metal fabrication sector in the UK is a dynamic force, supplying components for a vast array of industries, from automotive to construction. While indispensable, this industry has its environmental implications. As sustainability becomes a global priority, the spotlight turns towards how sheet metal fabrication in the UK is evolving to meet the demands of a greener era.

Energy-Efficient Practices

Recognising the urgency of addressing energy consumption, we installed solar panels on the roof of our facilities. This move powers the facility using clean energy and significantly reduces the overall energy footprint.

Beyond Alpha Manufacturing, many other sectors and businesses across the UK are following suit, exploring renewable energy sources to power their operations. From solar and wind to hydroelectric power, these endeavours are not just symbolic; they represent a tangible commitment to reducing the industry’s reliance on conventional energy sources and mitigating its environmental impact.

In addition to renewable energy sources, companies are investing in energy-efficient machinery and adopting smart technologies that optimise energy consumption during the fabrication process. These efforts collectively contribute to a more sustainable and eco-friendly sheet metal fabrication industry in the UK.

Materials and Recycling

Central to sustainable transformation is re-evaluating the materials used in sheet metal fabrication. The industry is witnessing a shift towards environmentally friendly materials, emphasising recycling. From reusing scrap metal to integrating recycled materials in production, we constantly explore innovative solutions to minimise our environmental impact.

Waste Reduction

Waste reduction has emerged as a cornerstone of sustainable sheet metal fabrication. Through strategic initiatives, companies are minimising waste at every stage of the production process. Reuse, recycle, and responsible disposal methods are becoming integral to industry practices, showcasing a commitment to a circular economy.

Green Certifications and Standards

 Alpha Manufacturing not only champions energy-efficient practices but takes sustainability to heart, setting a visionary goal. We have made a bold commitment to reaching carbon neutrality by the year 2037.

For us, certifications such as ISO 14001 for environmental management are not just checkboxes; they are strategic pillars in a concerted effort to foster a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future for the sheet metal fabrication industry.

As companies like us lead the charge, the industry is witnessing a shift where sustainability is not just a buzzword but an integral part of the business ethos, shaping the path towards a greener, more conscientious future.

To find out more about what we do, our environmental commitments and how we can help you, click here.

Meet the Team – Pete Ricketts

We pride ourselves on the opportunity for progression and changing roles at Alpha Manufacturing and The HEX Group.

Our new HEX Living Production Engineer Team Leader, Pete Ricketts, is a prime example of seizing these opportunities.

Pete Ricketts

Pete joined us in 2013, initially taking on a six-month temporary contract at Alpha Manufacturing. Back then, our now Managing Director, Paul Clews, was a Production Manager and spotted Pete’s determination, ambition and dedication, and soon Pete was offered a full-time contract.

Since then, Pete has continued to use his skills to take on several roles, rising through the ranks of Alpha Manufacturing. Initially, moving into the Quality Team and getting experience in maintaining our high standards of products developed for our customers.

Before his recent move, his most recent role within Alpha Manufacturing was Sheet Metal Team Leader, seeing Pete lead a team that is at the heart of what we do. Here, Pete worked with his team to produce exceptional quality products in committed time frames whilst fostering a brilliant atmosphere within the team.

Now, Pete moves into his new role within HEX Living, the latest addition to The HEX Group family, overseeing the production of its premium-quality, contemporary garden furniture and storage.

As part of Pete’s new role, he’s in charge of leading the team to produce furniture to keep HEX Living stocked and fulfil customer orders, managing the stock levels, and ensuring that our products are to the highest standard and are ready to ship out to customers.

Speaking about the new role and why he took it on, Pete said:

“I like a challenge and feel like I was pretty competent and confident on the shop floor areas I have worked on for years, so this was an easy choice to put myself out there for wanting the job and was chosen for it.

“I think it’s good that jobs are offered in-house to give us a chance for progress when we are already familiar with the layout of how things work.”

Aside from settling into his new role, Pete likes keeping active outside of work by going to the gym, playing football and boxing. For some chillout time, Pete likes to go on holidays and spend valuable time with his family.

Meet the Team – Lewis Grant

Joining us back in 2015, Lewis Grant is a perfect example of an apprentice success story.

Lewis completed his apprenticeship with The HEX Group in 2019 and has since been working as a key member across a wide range of areas of Alpha Manufacturing.

Lewis Grant

From quality control, robot welding, assembly, welding, and lathe and miller work, Lewis has learned skills during his time here that have set him up to be able to work on virtually any project at hand. He thrives on a challenge and enjoys taking on new projects that require new skills that he can learn, making him such a valuable member of our team.

Currently, Lewis works as a machine operator and programmer in our lathe and miller area. Here, he takes pride in keeping his area tidy and safe whilst setting up the machines and changing the tooling for each different project. To ensure that the work produced in the area is up to scratch, Lewis also runs his own inspection against specified drawings.

Looking to the future, Lewis has his sights on continuing his progress within Alpha Manufacturing and The HEX Group. Currently, his goal is to work up to taking on a team leader role and eventually progress to management.

The team within The HEX Group and Alpha Manufacturing are here to help Lewis along the way; speaking about his team, Lewis said:

“I feel I am supported quite a lot, especially by my manager. Having a good relationship between managers and employees on the shop floor is so important. It encourages all to go that bit further when we feel we are appreciated. I find nothing I ask for is too much, and they’re always willing to help and understand situations, which in return makes me want to be an adaptable employee.”

When he’s not at work, Lewis spends his time staying active by going to the gym and playing for a football team. His goal for the future is to go travelling and see as many countries as possible.

Thanks for all the amazing work you do, Lewis, from all of us here at Alpha Manufacturing and The HEX Group!

Talking Mental Health at Work

At any given time, 1 in 6 working-age adults have symptoms associated with poor mental health. From depression to anxiety, lack of self-confidence or stress, mental health can have a huge impact on how people perceive the world around them and make every day working tasks more challenging.

As part of Suicide Prevention Month, we talk to Karen Barnacle, Group HR Manager at The HEX Group, about recognising and supporting colleagues facing mental health.

“One in four of us face mental health illness at some point in our lives. It can affect us all in different ways. Changes in mood and behaviour are often signs an individual is struggling but for some the signs will be less obvious. Recognising an individual who is struggling may be difficult, which is why one of the most important things I can do as Group HR Manager is to make sure that lines of communication are always open and colleagues know where to turn if they need help.

Make time to talk

“Being aware of changes in people’s mental health and taking the time to check in and ask questions is one of the most important steps in helping to support someone who may be struggling. This is why, at The HEX Group, we offer a free telephone counselling service to all staff.  It can be difficult to open up to the people closest to you, which is why we’ve partnered with Wellbeing Solutions, giving our colleagues access to this invaluable, confidential service.

Be mindful of your approach

“As colleagues we are not trained therapists, but we are very passionate about supporting our team, which is why we hold regular one to ones with staff and have free support tools available for those who feel they are struggling with low mood or mental health challenges.

“Staff wellbeing will always be a top priority and we are constantly adding new initiatives to support our staff including the introduction of more Mental Health First Aiders later in the year.

What can you do to help?

Often, when people are struggling the most helpful thing is to have someone who will listen, or to hear a caring voice. It is then important to signpost people to the right place for professional help. Organisations such as Mind or Samaritans are great resources.  At The Hex Group, our door is always open and if you’re worried about a colleague, please share your concerns with us either in person or through our Shout Up scheme.

Small acts of kindness

Offering to help someone you can see is struggling might be the connection they needed. Making someone a cup of tea, asking if they want to join you for lunch are simple things that could make the difference to somebody’s day.

Solar Power Becomes New Energy Source For Alpha Manufacturing

Leading sheet metal manufacturing business, Alpha Manufacturing, part of The HEX Group, has completed the installation of 1770 solar panels covering 3,570.5m² of roof space at its manufacturing facility in Hixon, Staffordshire.

The solar panels on the Alpha Manufacturing roof will allow the business to generate enough power to run its machinery as long as the sun is shining! Over 12 months, the company will save 150 tCO₂e carbon emissions, the equivalent of a two-litre diesel car travelling one million miles, and taking us a step closer to achieving our carbon neutral commitment by 2037.

As a renewable energy source, solar power is the Earth’s most abundant energy source and free. Officially discovered in 1839, solar energy was first used in the 7th Century, but it is only now that we are starting to recognise the cost-saving benefits and the positive impact it has on the environment and global warming.

Did you know; that there is enough solar energy hitting the Earth every hour to meet all of humanity’s power for the entire year?

In the coming years, The HEX Group plans to develop a four-acre field near the site and install a solar farm generating one megawatt of power for battery storage. This, combined with the 735 kilowatts already fitted, will make us an off-grid company.

Staffordshire firm announces 10% pay rise to help employees with cost of living

Hixon-based engineering and manufacturing business, The HEX Group, is providing an above inflation rate pay rise to all its 500 staff to help its employees cope with the soaring cost of living.

From July and part of a £1.1 million investment, every member of staff across the Staffordshire group will receive a 10% pay increase as UK inflation currently sits at a 40-year high. Further support is also being introduced to help staff feeling the strain as the UK faces its biggest financial squeeze with food prices and energy costs at a record high.

The move follows continued growth for the Staffordshire business as work nears completion on their new multi-million pound site at Beacon Park. The group is currently looking to recruit 45 additional roles across a number of sectors following an increase in demand for UK sheet metal manufacturing.

Martin Smith, The HEX Group CEO said: “The cost of living crisis is one of the worst affecting families in modern times and as a company we will continue to monitor the economic situation to support and look after employees in the best way possible. Employee wellness doesn’t just stop at the factory gate, we have always put the needs of colleagues at the centre of everything we do and as the cost of living escalates on an almost weekly basis, we have a duty to do more to protect the welfare of our entire workforce.

“The 10% pay rise works alongside other benefits to make sure that all of our loyal workforce are given the very best support.”

The HEX Group, which includes Bri-Stor Systems, Alpha Manufacturing and Atlas Coating employs approximately 500 people and specialises in sheet metal fabrication, vehicle conversion solutions, engineering and advanced powder coating technology.

A leading British manufacturer in the heart of the Midlands the company occupies a 35-acre site and has maintained its reputation as a first-class employer, investing heavily in staff welfare, since the business began back in the 1980s.

Karen Barnacle, Group HR Manager has worked in the business for over 25 years and says the wage boost is just one part of a continued commitment to staff welfare: “The HEX Group has always offered employment packages that reflect the needs of today’s workforce.  Last month we launched our Health Cash Plan, entitling all employees with two-years continuous service to claim back the cost of medical services ranging from dental treatment through to physiotherapy and hospital scans.  In addition to this, from day one of employment, all colleagues can access a free and confidential counselling service, designed to support team members on any issue affecting them or their family.”

Started in 1989 the firm is continuing to see strong growth following continued demand for UK manufacturing solutions.

Last year the company opened two new divisions – Alpha Integrated Technologies and Alpha Manufacturing Chemical Technologies to keep up with demand.  This month Alpha Manufacturing will unveil its new £4million 35,000 sq ft site at Beacon Park, a collaboration with INEOS Electrochemical Solutions.  Earlier this year the firm launched HEX Living, its first retail division manufacturing outdoor furniture and garden storage solutions.

More information and details of current recruitment opportunities are available at