Press Brake Operative

Alpha Manufacturing, a member of The HEX Group, is a privately-owned business fabricating sheet metal in the UK. Alpha designs and produces both sheet metal work components and assemblies. Established in 1989, the company now employs over 100 people. Utilising industry leading technology, Alpha Manufacturing have facilities to design, prototype and manufacture a diverse range of products all in their purpose-built sheet metal fabrication factory in the heart of Staffordshire.

Having experienced significant growth and success over the last few years, we are looking to strengthen our team with the recruitment of a Press Brake Operative.

Key Responsibilities:

·        Operating press brake

·        Manual folding of items up to 10mm thick and up to 4m wide

·        Ability to Set-Up is preferable but not essential

·        Maintaining all health and safety standards

The Candidate:

·       Flexible and able to adapt as required

·       Excellent organisational and time management skills

·       Excellent communication skills

·       Ability to work alone and as part of a team

·       Full training can be provided for anyone wishing to re-train


The successful candidate will be entitled to:

·       Earn up to £15 per hour

·       Continental Day and Night shifts available

·       25 days annual leave

·       Company bonus scheme

Alpha Manufacturing & INEOS Electrochemical Solutions collaborate to develop state-of-the-art production facility at Beacon Park, Stafford

Leading sheet metal manufacturing business, Alpha Manufacturing, part of the Bri-Stor Group, is significantly ramping up its precision engineering capability with the construction of a brand new 35,000 sq. ft state-of-the-art production facility at Beacon Park, Stafford.  The new site will create up to 50 jobs, which includes roles for Apprentices and Higher Apprentices, and is part of Alpha Manufacturing’s wider strategic plans which includes the creation of 100 new Staffordshire-based jobs in the next five years.

The new facility is designed and built to facilitate the manufacture of components for INEOS Electrochemical Solutions.  Operating as Alpha Manufacturing Chemical Technologies, this development further builds on the launch earlier this year of Alpha Integrated Solutions – a dedicated fabrication facility adjacent to Alpha’s 85,000 sq. ft principal facility in Hixon.

Operating a 24/7 shift-pattern, the team based at Beacon Park will join over 500 other local people working in the Bri-Stor Group at Hixon.  Commenting on this important development, Paul Clews, Managing Director, Alpha Manufacturing says: “This is a fantastic moment for Alpha Manufacturing as we further enhance our commitment to the economic prosperity of Stafford.  We are proud of our Staffordshire heritage and we are delighted that through collaboration with INEOS Electrochemical Solutions, Stafford Borough Council and our development partner ISE, we are able to continue investing in the area, creating jobs and contributing to the region’s reputation as a world-class centre of manufacturing excellence.  There’s no question, we need to invest, invest, invest to ensure we create a secure and resilient future economy.”

The new facility has been designed to accommodate high-precision engineering and manufacturing processes that support the production of components used in electrolysers that produce chlor-alkali products.  Commenting on the development, Terry Healy, Business Unit Manager, INEOS Electrochemical Solutions says: “This development is the culmination of many months of planning and we are delighted to be working with Alpha Manufacturing – a business entirely committed to the delivery of world-class engineering standards.  Our drive, ambition and commitment to this facility is equally matched and we welcome the opportunity of working with the Alpha team to bring new skills and expertise to Stafford.”

Theo Clarke, MP for Stafford welcomes Alpha Manufacturing to Beacon Park and as part of her Pledges for Stafford is keen to support businesses creating high quality jobs in engineering, she comments: “It was great to welcome Alpha Manufacturing to Beacon Park in Stafford. Alpha Manufacturing’s commitment to opening a new facility during the coronavirus pandemic shows the wonderful business opportunities Stafford has to offer.  I was also delighted to meet with one of Alpha Manufacturing’s apprentices who I had previously given an award to when she was attending Stafford College. This demonstrates how Alpha Manufacturing’s new premises in Stafford will help create high quality local jobs and drive prosperity throughout Staffordshire.”

Recruitment of jobs will begin in the Spring 2022 and opportunities will be posted online and on Alpha Manufacturing’s social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

A helpful guide to Folding Terminology

Sean McColl, our Production Manager,  works closely with the apprentices to explain the importance of our folding capability, something that Sean knows just about everything there is to know.  So Sean has crafted this helpful guide, not only for our apprentices but for anybody who needs to know Folding Knowledge!


Sean puts folding into context: “Precision folding has come a long way in recent decades. What used to be considered ‘precision’ in the 80s wouldn’t pass today. A fabricator might have considered ±1 degree a precision fold; today a precision fold is within a half or even a quarter of a degree. Several factors have driven the market toward greater precision, including pressure to reduce the cost to produce a part, as well as robotics and automation. Although manual welders and assemblers can deal with variability, robots and automation can’t. Therefore, machinery needs accurate parts to function effectively.


“Like many things in manufacturing, press brake technology has advanced significantly over the years, but much of the basic press brake process terms haven’t changed. This is the key language we use and something all our apprentices need to know!”


Back gauge fingers: Stop/gauging devices either on back gauge bar or mounted to the machine.

Back gauge position: The distance from the front of the back gauge fingers or gauging bar to the centre of the “V” opening being used in the die.

Back gauge retraction: Very useful for some particular bending jobs requiring a retraction of the back gauge bar as soon as the punch pinches the plate. This will prevent damage of the flanges previously bent down against the back gauge heads or fingers, that could require gauging with a different level position (higher or lower) in relation to the surface of the die.

Bend allowance: The amount of compensation considered for the stretch of the material at the bending point in order to produce the proper flange dimension.

Bend angle: The angle between two successive flanges of the bent part.

Bending follower for press brakes: Device to support large plate/panels during bending operation. This unit is synchronized to the angular bending speed.

Bending tonnage: The tonnage required to perform a bend.

Crowning device: Mechanical system that compensates automatically the natural deflection of the beams. It can be a set of shims, punch holder or device mounted on lower beam. It can be controlled either manually or by a DNC.

Flange length: The distance on the material from the gauged side end and the next bend side (from inside or outside) centre of the opening of the die to the back stop.

Graphics control: A type of control for the axes of the machine which shows the operator how the part is to be bent, allows for the viewing of the tooling geometry, and simulation of the bending process.

Inside radius: The radius on the inside of a bent part.

Lower die: The lower tool the punch uses to form bend angles.

Mechanical stops: Used in certain types of hydraulic press brakes to assure repeatability in the stopping of the ram. The stopper set inside or outside the cylinder to set the bending depth/stopping position.

Overload protection: (discuss tooling, punch holders weak point, side load): The capability to limit damage by adjusting the tonnage control, or turning off power to engage machine.

Pinch point retraction: The moment that the punch pinches the plate causing the back gauge retraction.

Punch holder: The device used to clamp/hold punch in brake. Punch holder can be part of upper beam or intermediate/separate device. When separate, it is very useful to perform deep boxes with

lower punches (less expensive). Some punch holders have a feature to allow for compensating for the natural deflection of the beams if needed.

Quick clamp punch holder/die holder: A quick release system used to clamp/hold punch tooling or die tooling. Can be mechanically or hydraulically activated.

R1-R2: Independent adjustment of each of two stops of back gauge, up and down.

Repeatability: The accuracy which a beam will move to the same position repeatedly.

Safety Tang: The additional device on the tang to help prevent punch from dropping out when clamp is released.

Throat depth: The distance of the cut-out in the side frame/machine housing that determines the maximum length of flange that can be bent when bending to overall length of machine.

Tonnage control: Capability to regulate the tonnage available for use on the machine, up to its maximum rating.

Twin vee die: Special die combining two different V-openings on one side. It always requires a die holder.

X-axis: Movement of back gauge in and out – front-to-back – (used to control flange dimension).

X-X1: Further, independent movement (offset) of the one stop on back gauge bar in and out.

X1-X2: Tilt of back gauge. Angling the back gauge bar out of parallel with relation to the die

Leading On Quality At Alpha Manufacturing

Quality is a strong value at Alpha Manufacturing and in this article our Quality Manager Ben Austin explains some of the critical steps that differentiate our output and deliver on our world-class promise.

“Our quality promise starts by having a deep understanding of our customers’ requirements, ensuring we can meet their specifications.  This early part of the process is a fantastic illustration of the collaborative nature of our business, not only from the customer perspective, but in terms of how we manage the customer relationship internally.  We work closely with the New Product Introduction team to ensure that from the get-go we are influencing the quality of the eventual output.  We operate to the strict tolerances of ISO 9001:2015 which guides every aspect of how we run our operations but also demonstrates the world-class standards that we are consistently achieving.  Our quality management system (QMS) influences every aspect of our entire production process and is ingrained within the DNA of our business.”

Ben and the quality team work closely with the procurement team and have a stringent list of requirements all suppliers must meet before they make it onto the Alpha Manufacturing Approved Supplier list, Ben explains more: “Once we have agreed supply of a product, we then look at procurement of raw materials. We firstly go to our approved suppliers, however, in the outcome of a new supplier requirement, they need to pass our stringent supplier selection and evaluation process to ensure they meet our own exacting standards. Both existing and new suppliers are controlled and monitored through our QMS – this is a critical part of the process.”

The production phase is a critical point for the quality team as Ben is keen to explain: “All products are subject to inline inspection procedures which include first off and last off checks, or FOLOs as we like to call them.  Alongside FOLOs we also carry out random batch sampling of products to ensure that the product is achieving the same consistent output.  For specific products or processes that require greater focus or assistance for the operator, we can produce quality alerts or SOP’s (standard operating procedures). These cover a multitude of areas including critical dimensions or features for inspection, previous quality concerns, full assembly instructions or even a simple packing instruction to ensure customers receive their products exactly as they demand them.

“To assist in the inspection of more complex products we have our CMM arm (coordinate measurement machine) which uses CAD software to easily and precisely produce dimensional reports.  We have a complex, multi-layered approach to quality reporting, which is designed, ultimately, to give the customer absolute satisfaction in our output.  We love an acronym in quality management, so upon request we can produce inspection reports such as PPAP’s (Production Part Approval Process), ISIR’s (Initial Sample Inspection Report) and FAIR’s (First Article Reports). These are becoming a much more common requirement from our customers.  It enables us to verify that products are produced and supplied within the tight tolerances as specified by the customer. Alongside these we also produce PFMEA’s (Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) and process control plans.  These highlight any potential risks within the production processes and ensure that we have sufficient controls in place to eliminate potential risks. These crucial steps in the quality process help to instil a level of confidence with the customer that their products will be supplied to the correct specification every single time.”



Throughout the entire production process the needs of the customer remain central to every decision made, as Ben is keen to conclude: “One of the most important points to make is the importance of the working relationship with the customer.  A strong customer relationship allows us to work closely on VAVE (Value Analysis Value Engineering) projects and is heavily reliant on a strong cross-functional team within the business.  The strength and depth of our design, production and operational capability is an absolute guarantee of a world-class output every single time, maximising our engineering efficiencies throughout the manufacturing process and resulting in a quality, value-led product.”