Stephens & George to invest £4m in Heidelberg technology

In late 2020, Stephens & George will commission a state-of-the-art Speedmaster XL 106-8-P press with a CutStar Gen 4 in-line laminator. Photo Heidelberg

Stephens & George has come back from the pandemic stronger than ever, investing £4m in innovative technology and solutions from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg). The new order includes a Stahlfolder TH 82Automated P Stahlfolder and a new P-Stacker. This is their sixth TH 82P Automated Stahlfolder. The investment also includes a new Speedmaster XL 106-8P with Generation 4 CutStar, which replaces an existing XL106-8P with Generation 3 CutStar. As reported in March 2021, the new Gen 4 CutStar will offer further benefits. The new press is expected to be installed towards the end of December 2022, by which time Stephens & George’s oldest press will be just over two years old. Since 2018, Stephens & George have invested in five presses which all use ‘push to stop’ technology – including three long perfectors with CutStar.

P-Stacker ensures production stability at a high level

In a consultation with Heidelberg, the company observed that productivity in their bindery tended to drop during a 12-hour shift. Therefore, they invested in robotics to standardize their processes and maintain the same level of productivity throughout the shift. Automation is the cornerstone of their bookbinding today.

Since the pandemic, Stephens & George has invested heavily in robotics and automation and is now confident about using robotics in its bookbinding. “We now have four P-Stackers and six Stahlfolder TH 82-P automated folders,” says Andrew Jones, President and Managing Director of the Merthyr Tydfil-based company, “and we are one of the first print shops in Europe to have six of them! We firmly believe that automation in general, and these folders in particular, is the way forward for industrial printing and finishing production.

Stahlfolder TH 82-P keeps pace with top performance Heidelberg presses

Heidelberg
Stephens & George is one of the first printers in Europe to operate a total of six Stahlfolder TH 82-P folders.
Photo Heidelberg

Stephens & George has invested in many generations of Stahlfolders, ranging from 66 and 78 formats to 82 formats and now the fully automated TH 82-P format. They were impressed with the reliability and build quality of all variants.

I have always been impressed with Heidelberg’s user-friendly interface and excellent customer support and service. The TH-82 P folders kept us just behind our fleet of XL 106 push-to-stop presses. The Stahlfolder TH 82-P paired with the Stahl P-Stacker was a game changer in the industry. We are so confident of the return on investment of this latest technology that we have invested in four Stahl P-Stackers. The folding team has embraced this innovative technology because it allows them to work smarter and they are less tired at the end of their shift. This latest investment demonstrates our confidence in Heidelberg’s comprehensive suite of solutions,” said Marcus J Partridge, Postpress Group Director at Stephens & George.

Selected several times for “Best Heidelberg Technology”

The company expects to become even more efficient and productive with new technology, further increasing its OEE statistics. It’s about achieving maximum efficiency and productivity on every shift with quality standards that everyone aspires to. “Our team of highly skilled drivers enjoys the challenge and continues to set new goals. Effective teamwork with key suppliers is paramount to our continued success and we will continue to produce the very best products for our customers,” says Paul Enoch, Director of Manufacturing at Stephens & George.

Stephens & George is one of Heidelberg’s many long-standing customers, consistently opting for Heidelberg technology after a thorough analysis of the competition. “We believe Heidelberg equipment is the best on the market,” says Andrew Jones, “and we will always use the latest technology from Heidelberg.”

We have worked closely with Stephens & George for decades,” says Ryan Miles, Managing Director, Heidelberg UK, “and we are proud of the longevity of this relationship and so many of our relationships with our clients. Our goal is to deliver consistently high levels of satisfaction,” Heidelberg is delighted to continue to be the partner of choice for Stephens and George, and Ryan says the relationship is as strong as it could be. “Also in the years to come, we look forward to providing Stephens & George with the support and guidance they need to make the best possible decisions for their business. »

Stephens & George operates a 24/7 production department and allocates 56% of its work to magazines, 34% to commercial contracts and 10% to other one-off jobs. Within their purpose-built facilities, they offer printing, folding, saddle stitching, perfect and PUR binding, mailing and operate their own fleet of delivery vehicles.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the nationwide lockdown on March 25, 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned during this time? Perhaps the sense of resilience as small businesses like ours have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we struggled to produce our business platforms.

The printing and packaging industries have been lucky, although the commercial printing industry has yet to recover. We learned about the digital transformation affecting commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately, digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is an advanced technology that will only increase the demand for printing for the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe among the 90 countries where our five platforms are present. Our traffic, which more than doubled in 2020, sometimes increased by 50% in 2021. And advertising, which had collapsed in 2020 and 2021, began to come back in January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with irregularities and shortages, we look forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again mandated to produce the Show Daily over the five days of the show from May 26 to 30, 2022.

Now is a good time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative, technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can contribute to Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help support us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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