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W&G Baird invests in leading robot technology

Finishing Solutions

W&G Baird, one of the largest commercial sheetfed printers in Northern Ireland, has ordered the first two Heidelberg Stahlfolder P-Stackers in the UK and Ireland. The decision to invest in robot technology in its post press department comes as no surprise, as W&G Baird is one of the most technologically advanced printing companies in the market, and has a longstanding history with Heidelberg. The company already has four Heidelberg folders and the P-Stackers will complement their two high speed folding machines.

‘Over its history, W&G Baird has always been at the forefront of new technology in print. We are the first commercial printer in Ireland to run our presses from reels instead of sheets, having invested in reel sheeter technology last year (including a Heidelberg Cut Star 105). We have been very closely following the developments of robotics in folding machines, so when Heidelberg brought the P-Stacker to market it was an obvious step for us to make, to improve the productivity of our bindery department as we have with printing over the past five to six years,’ said Andrew Watson, operations director at W&G Baird. ‘We expect to see at least a 10% improvement in output thanks to this investment, by allowing the operator to focus on setting up and optimising the machines and keeping them constantly supplied. This in turn will improve our supply to our customers. We also expect to see our run speeds increase as most of the physical element of the job will now be handled by the robot.’

Ian Trengrouse, product manager post press commercial at Heidelberg UK, said: ‘Heidelberg has always developed the next step in pushing the boundaries in folder technology. From buckle plate and folding roller automation, the PFX feeder, to shingling of sheets throughout the individual folding unit, Push to Stop technology and more incorporated into the Stahlfolder, the P-Stacker is the next step in this progression and the perfect partner to the Stahlfolder P-series of machines. The highest level of productivity is easily handled by the P-Stacker, leaving the operator to concentrate on other tasks. This could even be a second machine; we already have users running in excess of 30,000 folded sections per hour across two machines with only one operator manning both machines. This level of productivity is groundbreaking and truly impressive to see.

‘W&G Baird has been a long time partner of Heidelberg, so it was no surprise that it is an early adopter of this latest technology. The P-Stackers will complement the two high speed TX96 Stahlfolders already running in the finishing department at Baird. In fact, this will be the first installation of the P-Stacker in the UK and Ireland, although the two units heading to Belfast will be closely followed by more already ordered elsewhere in the UK marketplace.’

For the company’s folding operators, the robotics will make a significant improvement to the ergonomics of their role as they are currently lifting and stacking paper by hand, something that the robots will now do.

The customers of W&G Baird will also benefit from this investment as the company has adopted a lean manufacturing approach. This is built on exactly understanding lead time, from the moment the order is placed to finished goods being delivered. The increased output from the robotics will allow it to reduce lead times and increase throughput – thus supplying their customers faster, whilst maintaining competitive prices.


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