Keeping emergency blood supplies safe on blood bikes

Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire Blood Bikes deliver urgent supplies to medical settings across the three counties and beyond.

Often relied on in times of emergency, they can provide anything from breast milk for neonatal units to urgent supplies of blood or platelets when hospitals are running low. The service is entirely manned by volunteers, and the team’s 16 motorbikes are a lifeline for its users, covering 350,000 miles a year to support people in need.

Unique solution 

When the charity updated their fleet, they needed help to configure a specialist tray which could be fitted to the back of each bike to transport the much-needed blood boxes and containers needed for deliveries.

Alpha Manufacturing designed a specialist modular tray with various fixing kits to fit multiple styles of bike, including the charity’s new BMW and Moto Guzzi models.

“It really has made a difference”, says Fleet Manager Nigel Howells. “We now have a system that can work with any bike we choose. It can be adapted and remodelled as needed to provide a simple solution which can even transport two different products at the same time.”

Collaborative approach

The HEX Group’s expertise in graphics meant they were also able to source and apply specialist motorbike livery that perfectly fit the charity’s new BMW and Moto Guzzi models.

Having clear signage on their fleet of motorbikes is essential in making sure riders are visible on the road and can be safely identified.

“Our 160 volunteer riders rely on clear signage on the Blood Bikes to keep them safe and make them visible on the road,” adds Nigel.

“When we had to change bike models, it was difficult to find a supplier who could provide the livery required. Working with HEX Graphics has made the whole process simpler, and we can now quickly and easily brand up new bikes so our riders can continue to get out on the roads providing the much-needed support to the NHS.”

Updating eight new bikes and with another three in the pipeline, the Group is hoping the idea will become best practice in helping other Blood Bike teams across the country providing a simple solution to keep volunteer riders safe on the road.

Back UK Manufacturing and Boost Britain’s Economy

UK businesses continue to face many struggles and unprecedented challenges during 2022, with the UK’s rising cost of living pressures and inflation jumping to a staggering 13.2%.

Fuel and energy costs remain a huge concern, with prices cripplingly high and transportation costs of exporting goods for both road and sea freight at levels never seen before. The war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia still cause uncertainty around rising fuel prices, and interruptions in the supply of machinery parts and raw materials continue to cause problems.

With interest rates rising to a base rate of 2.25% recently, there is added pressure on businesses exposed to debt burdens and rising mortgage costs.

Our Commercial Director Robin Eley shares his thoughts six months after his first interview to discuss why choosing British sheet metal suppliers can help alleviate supply chain and export concerns.

“Without doubt, UK manufacturing is feeling the same pressures of the global energy price hikes that are being felt through the entire supply chain, but keeping manufacturing in Britain has several benefits.

“The most significant is transportation. High shipping and logistic prices, along with delivery delays, have resulted in many supply chain issues.

“Many years ago, sourcing production outside of the UK was a viable way to sub-contract sheet metal fabrication, but as time has moved on, the cost-benefit, logistics and infrastructure that supported this kind of trade has now disappeared. British manufacturing has an annual output of £183 billion, and remains the ninth largest manufacturing nation in the world, providing 2.5m jobs across the country. By reshoring to the UK, companies benefit from a more localised control of production, ensuring that everything from communication to quality standards is to the highest standard possible.

“With world-class engineering here in the UK, and strong partnerships with leading suppliers, we have the capacity and ability to prototype and progress production opportunities without the high costs associated with logistics.

“As a company, we are taking further measures to be self-sufficient. We recently completed the installation of 1770 solar panels covering 3,570.5m² of roof space on the Alpha Manufacturing facility roof. These solar panels will allow the business to generate enough power to run our machinery. Over a 12-month period, the business will save 150 tCO₂ 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.

“We are increasingly supporting our customers, from a wide variety of sectors, to take on their production and alleviate some of the pressures facing UK businesses today.”

To find out more about how we can support reshoring your sheet metal production to the UK with our complete in-house fabrication service, get in touch.

Manufacturing EV Charging Components to support Going Green

Demand for electric cars in the UK is growing fast. Today there are an estimated 477,000 electric cars on the road and more than 790,000 plug-in hybrids. And, with the need for all new cars and vans sold in the UK to be fully electric by 2035, the charging infrastructure must be in place to accommodate driver’s needs.

According to the latest charging station stats, there are 33,996 EV chargers in the UK, as at the end of August 2022. These devices provide 56,237 electric car charging connectors.

That’s where we can help. As an award-winning sheet metal fabricator, Alpha manufacturing has a wealth of experience in manufacturing for the automotive and electric vehicle industry, for over 35 years. With cutting-edge machinery and processes, we have the capacity to produce components for Electric Vehicle Charging Points.

With our state-of-the-art production facilities, and a wealth of experience supplying various components in large volumes to our sister company Bri-Stor Systems for the conversion of electric vehicles, we have the capabilities and know how to assist with everything from prototyping to fabrication and assembly of your Electric Vehicle Charge Unit.

Our Processes

Our state-of-the-art machinery includes our robotic fold and weld facilities, CNC laser cutting, CNC punch, automated panel bending and a machining centre, enabling us to easily manufacture various components such as stands, metal plates, box units and more for the manufacture of Electric Vehicle Charge Points. Our 85,000 sq. ft factory also features the longest integrated STOPA Storage System in the UK, allowing us to hold a wide variety of material thicknesses and components for manufacture of custom Electric Vehicle Charge Points products.

Weatherproofing & Corrosion Resistance

Occupying a shared site with our sister company Atlas Coating, we are able to offer industry leading power coating services for your EV charge unit, salt spray tested for over 1,000 hours making sure that your EV charge unit is weatherproofed and exceptionally durable. Our innovative five-stage pre-treatment process utilises Oxsilan, which is a Saline based solution, as opposed to more harmful Zinc or Phosphate alternatives used by many powder coaters. This allows us to significantly reduce our environmental impact, whilst still offering unbeatable corrosion protection and durability.

Assembly & Integration

Not only are we able to offer the fabrication of components, but we are also able to provide assembly and integration services. Alpha’s dedicated in-house assembly department have vast experience in assembling various components and products, working to technical drawings, SOP’s and stringent quality standards. Recently, we opened up our new division, Alpha Manufacturing Integrated Solutions, which operates from a facility near our Hixon HQ.

EV Charge Unit Components

With our extensive capabilities for high volume repeatable small parts to large scale laser and punch sheets, we are able to facilitate the entire fabrication of EV charge point units, for example:


We currently produce many components for Electrical Vehicle Charge Units, and we’re proud to be currently supplying one of the fastest growing EV charge manufacturing companies with their charge point fabrications.

Get in touch to find out how we can help your business with Electrical Vehicle Charging Units.

Stafford manufacturer celebrates as new state of the art facility unveiled bringing new jobs and increased production to the area

Alpha Manufacturing has officially unveiled its new state-of-the-art production facility at Beacon Park, Stafford.

The completion of the 35,000sq ft Alpha Manufacturing Chemical Technologies site, on Wednesday 7th September, significantly increases the precision engineering capabilities for leading sheet metal manufacturer Alpha Manufacturing.

Creating 50 new jobs for the area, the new facility, part of The HEX Group, accommodates high-precision engineering and manufacturing processes supporting the manufacture of components for INEOS Electrochemical Solutions.

Operating 24/7 shift-patterns, the team based at Beacon Park will join over 500 other members of The HEX Group team based at Hixon.  Representatives from both Alpha Manufacturing and INEOS Electrochemical Solutions marked the unveiling which will provide a boost to jobs and manufacturing in the area.

Paul Clews, Managing Director at Alpha Manufacturing, said the new site was part of the group’s continued investment in creating world class manufacturing here in Stafford.

He said: “Our new state-of-the-art facility is the result of months of hard work and testament to our continued commitment to investing in the local area.

“The site will continue to develop and invest in the engineers of the future creating new opportunities and growing Alpha Manufacturing’s world-class engineering facilities in the region.

“Alpha Manufacturing Chemical Technologies is part of our commitment to collaborations which create innovative solutions for products of the future and is a welcome addition to the HEX family.”

Commenting on the opening, Terry Healy, Business Unit Manager, INEOS Electrochemical Solutions says: “It is a momentous day for Alpha Manufacturing Chemical Technologies. We are delighted to be bringing new skills and expertise to Stafford thanks to the world-class engineering standards of Alpha Manufacturing.  Our collaboration is helping to support the future growth of the industry and we are pleased to mark this new partnership here in Stafford.”

Alpha Manufacturing is a family-owned business established in 1989 which specialises in fabricating sheet metal in the UK.

The company now employs over 150 people from designers and engineers to production staff, welders, and machine operators to provide integrated solutions for businesses across the globe.

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

Charlotte Allen: Reflecting On My Apprenticeship So Far

First year Apprentice at Alpha Manufacturing Charlotte Allen has thrown herself into her Apprenticeship from day one, and following on from her last blog, Charlotte updates up on what’s she’s been up to these past few months:

“So, where to begin? I am now eight months into my apprenticeship with Alpha Manufacturing and a lot has changed since I first wrote about what it’s like to be an Apprentice. During these past eight months I have attended a number of events such as Careers Fairs with our Apprentice Manager William Davies-Hill to discuss with Year 11 and 10s all about the amazing opportunities that can come from going into an apprenticeship after leaving school. It is so inspiring to speak to the young people, especially girls who are in the same position I was in only a year or so ago, and learn about their opinions on engineering and encourage these girls to take the leap and join myself and so many others in the industry.

“I have also ventured onto the factory floor for the first time since starting the apprenticeship and – wow – there was so much to learn! From spending a week with some of the second-year apprentices making crawling boards for our sister company Bri-Stor Systems, to learning all about how to fit tools into the CNC Punch machines. I have also had the privilege of working inside the brand-new Chemical Technologies factory under the supervision of the manager Justin Kelly, getting an insight to all the ground-breaking work that is going to be taking place in the factory and helping set up production ready for June.

Elan Valley“During the Easter Holidays, us first year apprentices took the annual trip to Elan Valley. It was a fantastic week full of team building exercises to really get us working better as a group. We climbed our fair share of Dames, attempted to build a raft to get across the river and lots of orienteering activities. On our last day we helped the local nursery spruce up their outside garden space. It was such a pleasure to give back to the amazing community and give the children a new and improved space to spend their time.

“On a personal note, I finished the week off very happy as I finally passed my driving test- so no more early mornings and coach trips to the JCB Academy for me. Hooray!

“Meanwhile at the JCB Academy, I have started my welding course – I definitely think a master class with Alpha’s very own pro welder Chloe Sales is needed! It’s great to be able to look back from where I started and really see the progress, I’ve made from being scared to make mistakes to learning from them every single day with the help from our tutors. I have loved every second of the courses so far and I am sure it will only grow for the months left to come.”

Neal Lafford promoted to Operations Director at Alpha Manufacturing

Neal LaffordNeal Lafford has been promoted to the role of Operations Director at Alpha Manufacturing, after joining the business 10 years ago as Business Improvement Manager.

After starting with Alpha Manufacturing in 2012 Neal has been instrumental in helping the business expand its capabilities, in fact it’s Neal’s process improvement expertise that was the catalyst for his promotion to Operations Manager in 2018. In this role, Neal oversaw all areas of production quality and engineering and his many and continued successes have led him to this new directorship.

As Operations Director, Neal will work closely with Commercial Director Robin Eley, and Managing Director Paul Clews to continue to bring operational excellence to Alpha and to bring the business closer to its industry 4.0 goals.

Speaking about Neal’s promotion, Paul Clews said: “This move to directorship is well deserved and recognises Neal’s dedication in his role as Operations Manager.

“Neal is someone who in the past 10 years, has worked tirelessly to expand our capabilities, improve processes and used his expertise in lean manufacturing and process improvement to oversee the implementation of key machinery as well as lead a large, expert team.

“In his new role, I look forward to working with Neal on strategy creation and implementation and our industry 4.0 objectives. I have no doubt that Neal will achieve great things in the role and continue to take the company from strength to strength as we continue to grow, with the opening of our new Chemical Technologies development opening next year.”

Neal said: “My time at Alpha has been full of career defining moments, and after starting almost 10 years ago as Business Improvement Manager, I have learnt so much and feel I have grown with the business. I still get a buzz every time we implement a new process or expand our capabilities with new machinery, and I am proud of my contribution to Alpha’s continued success.  I look forward to developing new strategies that will further enhance our reputation as a world-class manufacturer.”

A Day in The Life of A TIG Welder by Sean Atkinson

TIG Welder Sean Atkinson originally joined Alpha Manufacturing on a temporary contract but after showcasing his excellent skills and abilities, Sean quickly secured a permanent position and has been a valued member of the team for over a year.

Sean AtkinsonSean originally began his career as a plumber, but when looking for a change in career path, he decided to pursue his passion for TIG Welding, having previously achieved welding qualifications at college.

Sean tells us about what it’s like to be a TIG Welder at Alpha: “I work in the stainless steel department here at Alpha, mainly welding specialised parts for the food manufacturing industry.

“My day usually starts with my pre-checks, inspecting my welding set-up and ensuring that my materials and tools are in good working order. After this, I check the job list, looking specifically at the dates and priorities of each, in order to organise my work for the day.

“Before I start a job, I will need to thoroughly check the engineering drawings for the specifications. This can sometimes lead me to working closely with team members from other departments such as CNC folding or laser, to liaise on the fabrication of parts.

“I TIG weld a variety of parts throughout my day, sometimes using specialist techniques such as more complex purging to provide the upmost quality and uphold customer specifications. I then work with our linishing team on parts that need their services, and then quality inspect each part before it is delivered to our customers.

“What I really like about my job is the variety of work that I do, each part can be different which means I am constantly evolving my skills and learning. I am especially excited about the next phase of my role that comes with the opening of the new Alpha Manufacturing Chemical Technologies facility. Here, there will be specialised welding of exotic metals and my role will see me helping to co-ordinate and set up operating processes for the new factory.

“It feels fantastic to have been given the opportunity to be a part of this exciting development for Alpha, and that our TIG welding team will be growing with a new team based at the Chemical Technologies site next year. I look forward to my future here at Alpha, I hope to keep progressing my skills and knowledge and to eventually manage a team.”

Alpha Manufacturing Named Manufacturer Of The Year 2021 At Business Awards

Production Engineer Gemma Smith also awarded Young Employee of the Year

manufacturer of the yearStaffordshire sheet metal manufacturing company Alpha Manufacturing is celebrating its achievements after being named ‘Manufacturer of the Year 2021’ at the East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire Business Awards. Commended at an awards ceremony held on 11th November at the Pirelli Stadium in Burton, the fabrication company was recognised for its innovation during the pandemic, where the business quickly geared up its operations to support production of Covid-19 safety products, including hand sanitiser stations and protection screens used in NHS testing centres across the UK.

Alpha Manufacturing Production Engineer and former Higher Apprentice, Gemma Smith was also recognised at the awards evening, taking home the prestigious Young Employee of the Year award. The judges commended Gemma for her many achievements which include inspiring the next generation of engineers, raising awareness of women in engineering and apprenticeship routes, as well as her charity work which includes climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for an African children’s charity and taking on a Unicycle challenge to raise funds for Alpha Manufacturing’s charity partner and local hospice Katherine House, all whilst completing her degree.

Not only did the company take away these two awards, but it was also recognised as Highly Commended in the Best Use of Innovation or Technology category for its work towards Industry 4.0 Smart Factory goals, including implementing new technology and machinery such as the STOPA storage system which is the longest in the UK.

Talking about the win, Alpha Manufacturing Managing Director Paul Clews, said: “This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team. It’s the people that make a business and without them, we wouldn’t be winning this award.

“During the pandemic, we kept production moving on essential items and within three months had the whole workforce back working within regulations, namely on Covid-19 safety products. To think that the products made here in our Hixon facility have helped to keep the UK safe as the country opened up again, and to continue to see these products helping to keep the country moving, makes me incredibly proud.

Gemma Smith“A massive well done to Gemma too, who was our first ever Higher Apprentice here at Alpha, and who has continually pushed herself to be an exceptional role model to other young engineers. She always goes above and beyond in her role and is a real asset to our team.”

On winning the Young Employee of the Year award, Gemma Smith said: “I was totally speechless when they announced my name – I just couldn’t believe it. All of the other finalists were so worthy of winning, and so I was glad that I was able to share the stage with them.

“I just hope with this award I can show other young people, especially young women, what can be achieved through apprenticeship routes and to inspire people to go into engineering. I’m so lucky to have had the support of Alpha Manufacturing who not only funded my education but helped me every step of the way.”

Award Winners


New Range of Integrated Retail Sanitisation Units Produced

The first units of a new range of integrated sanitisation stations were produced this week, ready for distribution into the stores of a leading UK retail brand. 

The products, which are an evolution of the sanitiser units manufactured by Alpha for a POS supplier in recent months, combine sanitiser dispenser, paper towel unit and waste bin into one convenient hygiene station. Manufactured primarily from 1.2mm steel, finished in the brand colour of ultra-marine blue and fully decaled, they offer a durable, smart looking hygiene solution for supermarkets.

Alpha’s customer, a leading merchandise and Point of Sale supplier, originally got in touch in the summer of 2020 amid the first UK lockdown as demand for COVID-19 protection products surged. The initial order saw Alpha produce 3500 hand sanitisers predominantly for the leisure and hospitality sector as the UK Government planned its re-opening of UK pubs and restaurants. Alpha quickly stepped-up operations to meet the unprecedented demand and at peak production, 450 units per day were rolling off the production line.

Since then, Alpha’s relationship with the customer has developed as demand for COVID protection products has remained high, with organisations from all sectors taking action to make themselves COVID-secure. With retail brands now looking for more permanent, functional hygiene solutions for their store entries, this new unit will start to be distributed across the UK, helping shoppers stay safe.

With the first samples now signed off by the customer, Alpha’s assembly teams are ramping up production and will be completing 100+ units each day, with thousands required in total. Be sure to make use of them as they appear in your local supermarket in the coming weeks and stay safe.