Stephens & George is looking to significantly increase the company’s output by installing a “Push to Stop” version Speedmaster XL 106-8-P. This new press, arriving in June, replaces a 15,000sph machine and means that it will have all of its presses running at 18,000sph. 


The new press will be Stephens & George’s eighth Speedmaster XL 105/106 long perfector investment since the press launch in 2008 and brings the total number of printing units the company has bought up to 76.


This is a very industrialised operation with one 10-colour, one five-and-coat and three eight-colour B1 Speedmaster XL 106 presses. In the last two years Stephens & George has added a Polar PACE high productivity cutting line and three of the latest generation maximum output Stahlfolder TH82-Ps. Everything at the Merthyr Tydfil plant is about productivity to give customers the quality and service levels expected and to protect profit margins.


“Our operator is going to Germany to look at the press and to familiarise himself with the Push to Stop concept,” says Andrew Jones, managing director. “Autonomous technology will allow us to be more productive and efficient.”


With Push to Stop a press will process a queue of jobs in a controlled and productive manner. Prinect Intellistart 2 software calculates the shortest makeready so that the machine works to maximum productivity. The operator will oversee it and can intervene, perhaps to pull a job out or to prioritise another one, but then the press will recalculate the settings and continue with the work. 


Stephens & George has highly specified the press. It comes with Autoplate XL 2 and Inpress Control 2 spectral colour measurement and control as well as CutStar reel to sheet technology. Everything is geared towards processing work at speed without compromise to quality.


Despite news that the pop title NME is to cease printing (not a Stephens & George contract) Mr Jones is not despondent about the state of print. “It’s been challenging for 20 years but we are still producing 1,000 magazines and across both magazines and commercial work we are outputting about 14 million 16pp sections and 4 million 32 page sections each month. News that Henry Stone has gone into administration has resulted in a number of calls from more potential customers wanting to get on press in the next few days. We are flat out already so some we have had to turn away.”


Stephens & George employs 231 and has a turnover of £27.5m. The company operates a 24/7 production service attributing 40% of its work to magazines, 40% to commercial contracts and 20% to other one off jobs.