Stephens & George rounds off bumper finishing investment

Richard Stuart-Turner
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Stephens & George will complete its two-year £5m finishing investment programme in March when it takes delivery of a third Stahlfolder TH 82-P from Heidelberg.

The Merthyr Tydfil-based company, which runs five highly-specified Speedmaster XL 106 presses, handles about 14 million 16pp sections and four million 32pp sections every month.

The first Stahlfolder TH 82-P, which was installed at the company’s 11,600sqm premises last November, was bought for 16pp section work while the second, which went in shortly after, has been used for 32pp work. The new folder will further increase the firm’s 16pp folding capacity.

Managing director Andrew Jones said some of the company’s existing fleet of 10 Stahlfolders will be made redundant by the much higher output capability of the new device. Some of the older machines will be sold on at a later date and some will be retained by the company as backup.

“This is the last piece of the jigsaw of our £5m investment on upgrading our bindery,” said Jones.

“We didn’t look at any alternatives because we’ve got two different types of folders here anyway and this is an additional backup for our favoured machines. Heidelberg look after us very well.”

He added: “We need to be able to produce the product quicker than we can with our current 16-page machines and this will do just that.”

Heidelberg claims the TH 82-P with PFX shingle feeder can output up to 16,400 16pp A4 sheets an hour at a machine speed of 140m/min.

The shingling or overlapping of sheets allows the machine to fold a higher quantity without ramping up the speed, resulting in better sheet control and higher quality folding as well as much greater output.

Earlier this year Stephens & George replaced two Polar Flowlines with one Polar PACE 200. The firm's finishing investment programme has also involved the installation of £4.2m worth of bindery kit last March and two MBO Leman folders last January.

The £27.5m-turnover business, which has 231 staff, has opened discussions with Heidelberg with regards to replacing one of its long-perfecting presses in 2018.

The company operates a 24/7 production service attributing 40% of its work to magazines, 40% to commercial contracts and 20% to other one-off jobs.

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