Bishops Printers will install its fifteenth Stahlfolder from Heidelberg to cap off a period in which the firm has transitioned to full 24/7 operations.
A new TH 82 model will join the 14 folders already installed at the Portsmouth printer’s premises. Each machine has been set into a permanent configuration, giving Bishops a variety of pre-sets to work with and reducing set up and changeover time. The £88,000 machine is set to be installed in mid-February.
Having run continuous production for some time using a skeleton folding crew overnight, managing director Gareth Roberts has overseen a drive to get all of Bishops' finishing equipment on to a 12-hour continental shift pattern over the latter half of 2017.
“Our financial year has just finished so we are looking forward now, and are optimistic – though the markets may seem a little fragile,” said Roberts. “With the factory running at all hours there is a buzzing atmosphere whatever time you arrive.
"With our folding capabilities, I am not interested in worrying about makeready times. I want our equipment already set so that our staff can spend their shift actually doing the folding rather than spending time reconfiguring everything.
“Business has been good for us – consistently growing profits by about 8% year-on-year – and now we are being positive and investing in our staff to add value to our relationships with our clients and what we provide for them. I can see us growing at least as much this year as we did last year.”
Bishops has been preparing for its increased level of service with a number of new hires, both at the front end and in production. The number of staff has risen from 256 to 271.
Bishops, known for producing a number of football teams’ programmes, although programmes only represent just over 10% of sales, will use the new Stahlfolder to supplement its existing folding lines.
Roberts said the machine was selected without needing to consider alternatives because of the “great reliability and the ease of our operators already knowing how to run the machine”.
Bishops runs a variety of Heidelberg presses, including five-, six- and eight-colour presses, as well as five XL 75 five-back-fives. The firm turns over £26.5m and provides a variety of commercial printing and finishing services. Its fulfillment subsidiary, the Mailing People, is housed in separate 2,800sqm premises.