Stephens & George is to replace two Polar Flowlines (guillotines with materials handling) with one Polar PACE 200 automated cutting system. This £350,000 PACE system completes a major investment in Stephen & George’s bindery over the past two years with two high output Stahlfolder TH-82Ps (installed in March), two new stitching lines and two perfect binders added to its portfolio.


Two of the Merthyr Tydfil’s guillotine operators have recently left the company and have not been replaced; the bindery is holding on for the new PACE system to be delivered in late summer. As well as reducing the number of cutting lines, the increased automation on the PACE will reduce the manual intervention needed by the remaining operators.  


PACE, an acronym for Polar Automation for Cutting Efficiency, is an automated materials handling system for the automation of cutting. The system works on the principal that printed matter is loaded into position on the air table by a loading lift for the operator who guides it into an automatic jogger. Following this an Autotrans gripper system transports the material to the rear table of the automated Polar cutter where the Autoturn turning gripper rotates the material during the automatic cutting process. After cutting is completed, the POLAR Transomat E unit automatically stacks the reams on pallets while cutting can be continued.



The PACE 200 line will also feature Prinect Cut Manager and Polar Compucut. For Andrew Jones, managing director of Stephens & George, this is key. “Cutting is a very difficult area to control because the operators are handling different grammages and different stocks and there is a different rate of throughput. With Cut Manager we can monitor the variables, see exactly how long a job takes and compare output between shifts. This investment will speed up makeready and improve our data and management information in the cutting area.” 


During a demonstration in Germany earlier this year, the Stephens & George buying team saw one job completed in 13 minutes on the PACE which would compare to a minimum of 30 minutes using an existing Flowline. A visit to a UK user was also undertaken prior to placing the order.



Stephens & George is a fourth generation, 105 year old company which employs over 230 people and generates a turnover of £28m. It prints magazines, brochures, catalogues, programmes, event guides and commercial products.