The machine will arrive in Merthyr Tydfil before the end of the year once an extension to the press hall is completed. This will allow the press and its CutStar reel sheeter to be in place before removing the 15,000sph machine it replaces.
The press will increase capacity at the printer thanks to higher speed and faster makeready. This technology is in place on the press previously installed. It includes Autoplate XL 2, Inpress Control 2 and Intellistart. For a section job, makeready is effectively a case of replacing plates and leaving the machine to run itself. It will enable the company to be competitive on shorter production runs.
Managing director Andrew Jones says: “We have been hugely impressed by Heidelberg’s autonomous printing technology. Operators have to learn to trust the technology but once the mindset is established it is a very productive and efficient process. It enhances the control and means our customers get the quality and rapid service they require.”
Once the installation is complete, Stephens & George will continue to operate 40 Heidelberg units, all XL106. There are three eight colour machines, a ten-colour and a five-colour plus coater for cover work.
The company is well equipped in terms of finishing with high speed Stahl and MBO folders, Muller Martini stitching and binding and Polar PACE guillotines. This year it has installed paper wrapping on one of the Sitma mailing lines to respond to increasing pressure on magazine publishers to move away from polywrap for postal delivery.
Each reel of paper for wrapping will hold enough for 60,000 wraps. Magazines account for 40% of its £30 million turnover with contractual work accounting for a further 40%. The remainder comes from one off jobs.
By Gareth Ward