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Stephens & George completes £16 million investment programme with Heidelberg

Print Solutions

Stephens & George has completed an investment programme of £16 million with Heidelberg. The latest order comprises three P-Stackers, with the first delivered in October 2021 and the other two in late November. At the same time, the company has also ordered a fifth TH 82 P automated Stahlfolder. The investment includes a new XL 106-5+LX3, which replaces an existing nine year old XL106-5LX. The new press will be in operation early 2022, after which the oldest press at Stephens & George will be just over three years old. This is the company’s fourth press since 2018 to use full ‘push to stop’ technology.

‘We were investigating the possibility of using robotics in our bindery. Following consultation with Heidelberg we looked at the P-Stackers and we decided that this was the right solution for us. We have been trying to reduce the requirement for manual handling for many years now. This makes sense from a health and safety point of view as the operators do not need to pick up and stack down eight to 12 tonnes of paper per shift anymore. Another point is that after a 12 hour shift productivity tends to fall – the P-Stackers should ensure that the operators maintain the same level of productivity throughout the shift,’ said Andrew Jones, chairman and managing director of the company, which is based in Merthyr Tydfil.

‘We are one of the first printing houses in Europe to have ordered a fifth TH 82 P automated folder,’ he added, ‘and we believe that these folders are definitely the way forward for industrial printing and finishing production. We are also replacing a nine year old XL106-5LX with a new five colour press with coater and, as always, we demand the latest Heidelberg technology available. When we come out of this pandemic, we will have gained valuable experience and we will be ready to grow further in the coming years.’

Marcus J Partridge, group director of post press at Stephens & George, added: ‘The P-Stacker is an important investment because it makes the job easier for our operators. Now they can work smarter rather than harder. The return on investment will begin from day one. I believe that, at the industrial level of production we are at, this is the next game changer after the TH82 P technology. The benefits for our company are efficiency, linear production in terms of staff and the fact that the operators can focus more on quality, performance and training. It will give us scope to look at the bigger picture.’

He continued, ‘I have been privileged to work with many generations of Stahlfolders from the 78 format then working with the 82 format and finally moving on the TH82 P format, in shingled mode. In every generation change, Stephens & George has seen no detriment in the build quality of the folders. The interface has always been extremely user friendly, the service and support has been excellent. When we last appraised the marketplace, we did look at other competitors and Heidelberg ticked all the boxes. The Heidelberg Stahlfolders do exactly what they say on the tin, day in day out.’

‘The new technology that we purchase will allow us to be more even more efficient and productive and increase our OEE statistics even further. With the introduction of autonomous printing, our F1 team of high skilled printers – 15 in total – are able to demonstrate their skillset and put the equipment to the test. The end result is very much the end sheet which comes off at a higher speed and we gain much more efficiency,’ said Paul Enoch, group production director at Stephens & George.


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