Flexpress has switched from two first generation StitchLiners to a StitchLiner MkIII at it's Leicester factory, despite one of the machines being just 18 months old.
Managing director Steve Wenlock says that the company came close to buying the MkIII at that time. “We should have bought it then, but thought that we would be able to get by having replaced an older Duplo iSaddle which had served us for five years,” he says.
The new StitchLiner is a more versatile machine, able to run landscape to A6 booklets at the same 6,000sph. “Our production manager visited Horizon in Germany and he was blown away. It was bit more money, but we felt it was worth it,” says Wenlock.
The finishing line has been specified with the UK’s first VAC-L600H collator towers. These have deeper bins (130mm compared to 55mm previously) to hold a greater volume of sheets as well as thicker sheets and are designed to feed the longer sheets that are needed for the growing volumes of A4 landscape work that Flexpress is producing. “It is handling all our previous production,” he explains. This has freed an operator for other duties in the trade print business.
The deeper bins require less attention during longer runs, while touch panel set up reduces make ready for shorter run jobs. “We can run a 5,000 copy job immediately after a five copy job,” says Wenlock, “so both changeover time and running speed were important to us. The MkIII will handle both.”
It will also handle sheets that were previously problematic for the printer. He explains: “We used to struggle with soft-touch laminates, for example. So before making the decision, we sent our worst possible job to Germany. And it ran like a dream.”
Investment in the StitchLiner MkIII follows on from the installation of a BQ-280 PUR perfect binder, HT30C three knife trimmer and CRF 362 creaser folder earlier in the summer, all Horizon equipment supplied by IFS.
“Everyone we deal with at IFS go above and beyond to help out. That includes the managing director Bryan Godwyn, the sales team, the service team and the office staff. The equipment they supply is all well-built and reliable. Because of this, they are usually our first port of call when we need new equipment,” says Wenlock.
But not for the next investment. The company is switching to a new Cron platesetter in the next month. This will allow the company to move from a conventionally processed plate to Fujifilm’s new Superia ZE processless plate. It will save the hassle of handling chemistry in the factory, free up additional space and offers the promise of greater consistency for trade customers.
“Most of our work comes through the web,” he says. “Unlike working for direct customers where there can be grey areas over the quality of a job, with trade print it is black and white, right or wrong.”
By Gareth Ward
Landmark installation at Flexpress with Lee Fowler IFS technical sales, Ian Jamieson, Flexpress head of production and Steve Wenlock, in front of the new StitchLiner MkIII. The machine has replaced two older stitchers.