02 July 2017 Finishing

Stephens & George rounds off investment round in finishing

Welsh magazine printer is putting the finishing touches to a £4.2 million spend in the bindery with a second Bolero PUR binder.

Stephens & George is close to completing the installation of a second Muller Martini Bolero binding line at its Merthyr Tidfyl factory, putting a cap on “the largest investment in printing and binding in the UK in the past ten years”.

Once fully operational the company will have two binding line with 10- and 16-hopper gathering sections, PUR nozzle applicators, Orbit three-knife trimmer and C18 book stacker on each. The binders join two Primera MC saddle stitchers, designed for fast set up using servo motors and computer controlled settings.

The company produces 2.7 million stitched magazines and 1.8 million perfect bound magazines a month and, with average run lengths dropping, needed to keep pace with this trend and to match the power of its five Heidelberg presses. Run lengths can vary from a few hundred to 500,000 copies and from 8 to 1,000 pages. Average run is 6,200.

“Recently we’ve increasingly focused on state of the art prepress systems and printing presses, with the result that a gap opened up between the printing process and the print finishing requirements,” says chairman Andrew Jones. “However, now we’ve invested in 21st century solutions for the book bindery too, which demonstrates our confidence in the future of the printing industry.”

The prepress area is moving to the latest version of Agfa’s Apogee workflow with new remote interface for customers.

The £4.2 million investment in finishing has included two high speed MBO Le Mans folders, two Heidelberg TH82-P folders and now an additional guillotine. The Polar Pace 200 automates the jogging, lifting and movement of paper behind the guillotine’s knife, accelerating production speed. Once in full operation, the company plans to decommission two Flowline cutting lines, saving on manpower and with a potential increase in throughput.

There are plans also to bring full operational automation to the finishing area, with Muller Martini’s Connex 4.0 data management system. “We saw what direction we need to take at Muller Martini’s Drupa stand with its Finishing 4.0 philosophy. The new solutions keep all our options open in terms of meeting new market requirements in the future,” says Jones.

Gareth Ward

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Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones, chairman of Stephens & George, with the first Bolero line installed last summer. Now the company has installed the second binding line together with a Polar Pace cutting line with Connex 4.0 to come.

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