Proud to be a UK manufacturer

There’s nothing like a crisis – or pandemic, to make us realise the tremendous value there is in British industry.  Since the Coronavirus hit the UK, industry leaders have been calling for a resurgence of British manufacturing, in order that we become less reliant on imports of key manufactured goods. 

The versatility of British engineering has been clearly demonstrated when the need arose for thousands of ventilators to be manufactured to support the NHS in the fight again Coronavirus.  Companies like Dyson, Rolls Royce and Airbus are rising to the challenge in these unprecedented times to utilise their manufacturing skills and adapt to meet the needs of the market.

A brief history

The industrial revolution originated in Britain – and we remain a leading manufacturing nation today, particularly in hi-tech sectors such as aerospace and advanced manufacturing. Did you know there are 2.6 million people directly employed in manufacturing in the UK? 

In 1948, manufacturing accounted for 48% of the British economy, and despite a reduction in this  figure since the 1970s when manufacturing contributed 25% of UK GDP, the UK is currently the ninth largest manufacturing nation globally.

Recently the Manufacturer magazine projected that in 2021 Britain would break into the top five industrial nations in the world, if projected growth trends continued.  Obviously, times are difficult for all businesses, including manufacturers at the moment, but the aspiration should be that once this crisis is over, all UK manufacturers quickly regain this momentum.

International market

As a business Group Rhodes supplies to many international customers, in countries such as China, India and across Europe.  The skill, expertise and quality of British products is widely renowned throughout the world. 

As manufacturers we need to continue to build on this reputation and stand together to demonstrate that British industry continues to work to the highest quality standards and with the best use of technology. This is illustrated on our boardroom wall where a patent detailing improvement to a steam hammer in 1859 hangs next to a patent for condition monitoring a hot metalforming process registered in 2019.


Manufacturing heritage

Our manufacturing heritage at Group Rhodes has always served to demonstrate our credibility to customers, particularly on an international basis.  As a business, we are almost 200 years old. Back in 1824, Joseph Rhodes was a young engineer building his first sheet metal machine.  Competition was fierce, and like today he had to be agile and adapt to survive.

The company started to manufacture presses for the production of tins, oil cans and brass goods for the home, and later further adapted to make machines for many different sectors including, as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Government requirements for two world wars. 

The company opened a Paris office in 1910, but it was during the Second World War that Rhodes presses were first sent overseas to India, Africa and the Middle East to support military supply chains.  Since then our company has exported our British made products across the globe.  In the 1950s we manufactured 1000 types of machines for the sheet metal working industry, which was said at the time to be “the largest variety made by a firm in the world.”

Since the 1990s we have acquired a number of metalforming companies with similar expertise, including HME, Bentley and Dualform.  In 2001 we acquired Craven Fawcett, a pioneer in the field of Clayworking machinery and more recent additions to the Group include Beauford Engineers, Fielding and Platt, John Shaw, Chester Hydraulics, Henry Berry, Hallamshire Engineering Services and Atkin Automation.

Although as part of our group, we now have several different business units, each one is clearly focused on engineering excellence, use of the latest technology and a clear focus on innovation.  We are also able to offer service, maintenance, and replacement parts for all our equipment, as well as maintaining the machinery of many other major manufacturers serving the metalforming, composite and heavy ceramic sectors.

Working together.

We wish all UK manufacturers well as organisations pool resources and share expertise in not only the technical fight against the coronavirus, but also the economic struggle to return to full operational efficiency.  

In today’s  marketplace the success of any chosen strategy depends very firmly on collaboration and, as we emerge from the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, there is a clear opportunity to step up to the challenge together, and demonstrate the true value of manufacturing to the UK economy.

Our sector contains the very best of companies, and the best companies, like the best economies do more than survive a downturn. They position themselves to thrive during the subsequent upturn. Changes in the industrial landscape are anticipated and business models are adapted.

Success therefore rests in an ability to work together to define common goals, support our supply chains and protect our precious UK manufacturing ecosystem. In this way we protect our knowledge base, protect our recovery and protect our status as one of the world’s leading manufacturing nations.

Go UK manufacturing!