Two months into 2024, the manufacturing industry is again facing difficult market conditions, supply chain disruptions and rising costs.

Taking matters into our own hands, we have started the year positively, and despite the challenges, are looking optimistically at the year ahead.

In this article, Sales Director Michael Whitfield outlines the biggest issues facing our industry, and how we’re overcoming them, supporting our customers through unprecedented market volatility.

Supply Chain Disruption

Supply chain disruptions are nothing new. With Brexit, the pandemic and geopolitical tensions all testing the global market in recent years, manufacturing businesses have had to become accustomed to new ways of working. Now, with issues in the Red Sea adding more pressure to import and export markets manufacturers are again facing challenges.

Since the beginning of the year, military activity has been escalating in the Red Sea effecting all trade through the region. Ships carrying anything from clothes and toys, to fabricated parts have been the target of attacks by Houthi rebels, forcing major operators to divert cargo away from the Suez Canal. Adding up to 20 days to journey times, these delays have affected businesses across the UK, driving costs up and leaving some without manufactured parts or products.

Flying the flag for Great British manufacturing, we continue to invest in supply chain integration. With our entire operation based in the UK and very few outsourced processes, we are able to maintain complete control over our manufacturing, reducing shipping reliance and supply chain risk for our customers, while maintaining a high-quality product.

As more and more British businesses look to home to secure their future, we are here to support them. The business climate today, with rising costs and growing uncertainty is difficult enough. If we can support just some of that, reducing reliance on phantom overseas suppliers with invisible customer service, then we’ll be doing our job right. Working with new and existing customers, we offer state-of-the-art services, manufacture innovative products, and meet our customers’ complex requirements.

Skills Gap

Today’s labour market is a challenge for all businesses. The result of Brexit and the pandemic has left a skills shortage across much of the UK manufacturing sector. Recruitment and retention are central to our strategy, and is a key driver for future growth and success. That said, we continue to invest in our people to make Alpha Manufacturing an attractive place to work. Following our recent investment in a cutting-edge Trumpf TruBend 5170S fold machine, we are upskilling several operatives to use our latest machinery. This ensures we maintain our expertise, allowing us to deliver the highest quality products to our customers.

2023/24 also saw our largest intake of apprentices ever, with 18 new apprentices joining across The HEX Group. Since launching our fully accredited apprenticeships in 2010, this has formed a crucial part of our growth strategy and has allowed us to promote careers within our sector. Offering exciting and dynamic programmes, we nurture our young people, offering hands-on learning to produce qualified, ambitious, highly productive colleagues who keep our business moving forward.


Every industry is touched by sustainability and manufacturing is no different. With the drive towards net zero and more environmentally conscious business practices coming to the forefront of all our minds, we have made significant steps to make our processes more sustainable. In 2022, we installed 1770 solar panels covering more than 3500m2 of roof space at our facility in Staffordshire, saving more than 150 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. We also continue to invest in our future, ensuring we have the latest energy-efficient machinery to reduce our environmental impact. Our latest investment reflects this commitment, offering significant improvements in energy consumption and promoting eco-friendly manufacturing practices.

We are incredibly proud to be a British manufacturer and work tirelessly to maintain our high standards, even in challenging times. We are resilient by nature and continue to work closely with our suppliers to ensure we deliver for our customers.

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