The group is overhauling its guillotine roster by replacing two Polar Flowlines with a Polar PACE 200, which cost £350,000 and will be installed in around two months’ time at its 11,000sqm Merthyr Tydfil facility. One Polar 115 guillotine will be kept on as backup.
Managing director Andrew Jones and his team first spotted the PACE (Polar Automation for Cutting Efficiency) line at Drupa last year, but it was a visit to a German demo site last month that confirmed to the 220-staff outfit that it wanted to make the investment.
Jones said: “We’ve been looking for some time to upgrade our cutting systems because at the moment we have three cutting systems and this system will allow us to produce more cutting per hour than the other machines. So it’s all geared up with the fact that we have fewer people employed and are more productive.
“I’m sure it will make up for itself. Guillotines normally stay with us for close on 10 years and over the 10-year period it will have a massive impact on our business I believe.”
Two staff recently left Stephen & George’s guillotine department and the investment means they will not be replaced.
“It’s automated guillotine cutting so where we’re cutting eight-page sections and where we’re cutting covers it means as fast as we can load them the machine will cut the sections and stack them down themselves. It makes a massive difference to productivity,” added Jones.
The cutting line takes reams from the jogger and gripper systems then automatically turns and positions the paper in the cutter before delivering the final product to the Transomat downloader. It can process up to 45 reams of paper per hour, taking material at a maximum size of 790mmx1.1m. Stephens & George will install Prinect Cut Manager and Polar Compucut with the new kit.
The firm's finishing investment programme has also involved the installation of £4.2m worth of bindery kit last March, two MBO Leman folders for around £900,000 last January and two Stahlfolders for around £700,000 earlier this year.
“Primarily we’d been waiting for the bindery areas to catch up with the computerisation the pressroom has,” added Jones.
“The reporting method that finishing equipment now has it didn’t have before. It makes a massive difference to us.”
£27.5m-turnover Stephens & George will initiate a replacement programme for its four litho presses starting from next year. The business currently runs four Speedmaster XL 106s, three eight-colours and one 10-colour.