“Our plans for India are the same – continue to develop Bobst applications and resources”

Jean-Pascal Bobst, the CEO of Bobst Group has embarked on a group transformation project, a strategy which includes India and a targeted savings of at least $ 130,000,000 saving by end 2013. In this face-to-face interview with PrintWeek India at the Bobst stall, he talks about how acquisition fits into Bobst’s scheme of things, advancements in different packaging segments, digital update and his plans for India.

28 Feb 2013 | By PrintWeek India

PWI: In 2009, you became the CEO of Bobst Group. You took up the group transformation project, with an aim to further increase customer satisfaction, broaden market coverage, extend your sales and service coverage, and gain approximately $95,000,000 in savings by 2012. What’s the update?
Jean Pascal Bobst (JB): The group transformation project envisaged, one, to create three business units, sheetfed, webfed and service, which basically means we are creating technical platforms, for example, gravure presses for folding carton and flexible, flexo machines for corrugation printing, folder-gluers, die-cutting machines. This was for the period 2010 to 2012. The second is the business excellence. It means we want to go lean, not just for production but purchasing buying and logistics as well as administration. It includes manpower too. On the production side, when we used to produce by batch, we needed 20 weeks but with lean production, we need only eight weeks now. The third is our strategy of growth, with services and acquisition. Service is moving step by step. The result of last seven months is encouraging. We have a 13% turnover increase, which shows that the strategy is working. We have acquired Brausse Eterna of China; this acquisition is a real success. We will look for further avenues in gravure and flexo corrugated technologies.

These strategies encompass new innovations, and the application of lean processes throughout the Group, and I can say that we should be able to achieve the target of at least $ 130,000,000 saving by end 2013.

PWI: How does acquisition fit into your scheme of things?
JB: It fits very well. We have categories or products into – high technology, medium, entry and "entry-entry" or simple machines. The high and medium technology products are made in Europe, while the entry category is Bobst products made in Brazil, India or China. And the Brausse equipments serve the entry-entry level segments, which we cannot touch with the Bobst  products.

PWI: Advancement in flexible, folding carton and in corrugated?
JB: Corrugated has become very active in India and for Bobst it’s a very important segment. I was here last December to celebrate sale of the first machine in India during the meeting of Corrugated Association of India. In folding carton, we have shown a number of innovations at Drupa, which will continued to be pressed during this year. But for the Indian market, we will have a stronger presence through strengthened capabilities of service, tooling and machine output training program.

In the folding carton, we are focussing on tooling strategy – how can we help our customers get better tooling, better training and hence better net output.  

We are also looking at entry-level gravure press for emerging countries as well as for India with three options today. It could be in the form of acquisition and if we do not find a partner, we will develop our own entry-level kit for gravure. We have the capacity at our Pune plant to do that.

PWI: Over the past two decades we have witnessed key areas of the supply chain becoming digital. At Drupa you flashed prints, which you claimed had been printed with the digital machine developed by Bobst. How is your digital endeavour progressing?
JB: I said that our digital kit will not be a toy. We are on track on the digital innovation project; it’s still at the innovation stage though not a final industrial product. We will start production on the prototypes this year and hopefully we will be in a position to launch the digital industrial product in 2014.

PWI: We now also see that digital penetrate packaging finishing. Anything from Bobst?
JB: I have nothing to say today.

PWI: What features or technologies are your customers asking for and how do you anticipate the technology you bring forth will satisfy these demands?
JB: It’s a question of industry and segments. You have different expectation in different segments. For example, the entry and lower level products are simple, cost-effective, reliable and easy to use machines. With the Bobst quality, good service and the tooling, we are looking to penetrate more. It’s no real innovation, but adjustment of the total package deal for the customer.

If you look at the high and medium segment, the customers are really under pressure because the brand owners expect just-in-time solutions, reduce inventories and waste and overall energy consumption. Our new 20SIX Flexo press for flexible material launched at Drupa consumes 30% lesser energy than the previous generation products.

Digital revolution will come, not in six months, but most likely in five to seven years. Because it is a real industrial machine, this will not be cheaper than today’s product. It would sit perfectly for players in the high and medium business model because they could open new department for digital solutions and manage their customer requirement differently.

You will still have traditional technologies living with digital solutions, of course. 

PWI: Why should I visit Bobst stall?
JB: You should visit because we are one of the best global offers for packaging requirement in the Indian market.

PWI: Plans for India?
JB: Our plans for India are the same – continue to develop Bobst applications and resources. With the group transformation project and the platform with merger concepts, India has become the competence centre for Bobst folder-gluers’ medium and entry level. Therefore, we have increased our R&D team in Pune as well as our process specialists. As I have said, we will continue to develop the tooling strategy and capabilities; and furthermore extend products transfer to the Pune operation and get the right product mix for the Indian market.

This Feature is an online special on the PrintWeek India website. The interview was published online in February 2013