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Stephens & George invest in saddle stitching and perfect binding systems

Stephens & George has invested in saddle stitching and perfect binding systems, in a bid to expand its operations.

As the installation of our second Bolero B9 gathers pace, we reflect on the reasons behind our investment within our Bindery.

Stephens & George produce 2.7 million saddle stitched magazines and 1.8 million perfect-bound magazines each month. To streamline our production of that vast number of copies, we are now relying on two new Primera MC saddle stitchers and two new Bolero B9 perfect binders.

Stephens & George has invested a massive GBP 4.2 million in modernising our line-up of saddle stitching and perfect binding systems at our 12,000-square-metre plant. This is the largest investment in stitching and binding in the United Kingdom in the past ten years.

“Recently we’ve increasingly focused on state-of-the-art pre-press systems and printing presses, with the result that a gap opened up between the printing process and the print finishing requirements,” says company owner, Chairman and Group Managing Director Andrew L.G. Jones.

“However, now we’ve invested in 21st century solutions for the bookbindery too, which demonstrates our confidence in the future of the printing industry.”

Our extensive investment package includes two Bolero B9 perfect binding lines featuring a 16- and 10-station gathering machine, a VPN/PUR nozzle system, a SPN side glue nozzle system, an Orbit three-knife trimmer and a CB 18 book stacker (one of the lines has been producing since the end of August, while the other will be commissioned in June 2017) and two Primera MCs, both 6 station plus cover feeder, which have been up and running since this summer.

This means our family business, which was founded in 1912, is now home to the latest saddle stitcher generation with Motion Control and to Muller Martini’s Finishing 4.0 philosophy.

“We are also looking forward to integrating Connex and M power into our current MIS system to give us accurate SFDC. This will enable us to performance manage staff and to get the best out of this new investment,” says Marcus J. Partridge.

Our company, which employs 220 people, making us the largest employer in the region, was highly satisfied with our older Muller Martini saddle stitcher models that have now been replaced, explains Marcus J. Partridge.

 “However, our new systems featuring MC technology with servo motors are naturally in a whole different league in terms of make ready, efficiency and workflow,” notes the Group Bindery Manager.

Being able to set up jobs faster is of particular importance to the magazine specialist for three reasons – first, because its run sizes have decreased by around 10 percent in the past few years; second, because it is producing more and more titles; and, third, because its number of short runs has increased sharply in the recent past. Several of the some 750 magazine titles printed in Dowlais using five Heidelberg offset presses are produced in runs of just 200 copies.

At the other end of the scale, runs of 500,000 copies are produced (with an average of 6,200 copies per title). Since the number of pages and the sizes also vary (from 8 to 1,000 pages and from A6 to A3 size), the two new Primera MC machines come into their own not only with their short make-ready times but also with their high degree of flexibility.

Marcus J. Partridge also notes that the two new saddle stitchers are not only quick to set up but also ensure consistent production. As a result, even the very first copy is salable. That speeds up the production workflow, which is a major advantage for short runs, and also cuts out on production waste.

As a further benefit, Stephens & George now frequently uses the two new Primera MC machines for the same number of production runs that previously took three saddle stitchers to do. That is naturally far most cost-effective.

To optimise the touchless workflow, Stephens & George are also planning to invest in the Connex 4.0 data management system in the near future. “We saw what direction we need to take at Muller Martini’s drupa booth 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 Andrew L.G. Jones.

The Chairman of Stephens & George is confident that the company will continue to grow: “Print products will remain important and particularly magazines, with their diverse special interest content, won’t decline in popularity.”