Stephens & George pushes automation with second 'Push to Stop' Speedmaster


Stephens & George is pushing ahead with the completion of a factory extension to make room for a new Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106-8-P with the latest 'Push to Stop' technology.

Representing a £4m investment, the B1 press is a duplicate of another XL 106-8-P that was installed last summer and, like its precursor, will replace an older, less productive XL 106.

The new perfector is set to arrive in late autumn and will be the first resident of the Merthyr Tydfil-based magazine printer’s new 1,160sqm extension, which is due to be completed in August.

Managing director Andrew Jones said: “We have been buying Heidelberg since the late 1980s and we think their technology and their R&D makes for the best presses for our type of business. We did not need to consider the market when we made this decision.

“It is all about how we can be as efficient as we can be. We are doing a lot of shorter runs so we needed a machine that would enable us to further speed up our make-readies.

“Clients are benefitting from the fact we continue to invest in the latest tech that is available to us and we will continue to give them the quality and service they require.”

The new Push to Stop XL 106 is equipped with 'technology which will allow it to print continuously with minimal operator intervention. It prints at 18,000sph with Autoplate XL 2 plate changing, Prinect Inpress Control 2 register and colour control system, Intellistart operating system and CutStar reel sheeter.

On its extensive plant, spanning 11,150sqm ahead of the extension, Stephens & George runs a large battery of Speedmaster XL 106 presses, including one 10-colour, one five-and-coat and three eight-colour machines. The latest investment will be the firm’s tenth on the B1 XL platform.

Stephens & George prints circa 1,000 different magazines for its clients, as well as a number of football and rugby programmes whose shorter runs will benefit from the additional 'Push to Stop' capability reducing make-ready, according to Jones.

He indicated his anticipation of a “tough summer for the industry” due to the further uncertainty caused by delays to Brexit and said he was glad for the repeat work of his firm’s established contracts and the hard work of his team.

With a headcount of 231 staff on £30.7m turnover, Stephens & George’s press portfolio is backed up by a wealth of finishing kit including four high-producivity Stahlfolder TH 82-Ps, the latest having been installed in February, as well as Polar Pace cutting lines.

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