Bobst reveals its focus for 2020

In spite of a soft economic downturn and overall pessimistic predictions, 2019 was a good business year for Bobst. Throughout 2019, a consistent theme in conversation with its clients — both brand owners and converters — was the need for greater automation to enable faster product launches and better customisation. The word ‘workflow’ has been gaining importance as all the stakeholders involved with packaging production recognize the need to improve packaging production. Today, it is a linear process with disconnected control points. In the future, it will become agile and flexible, fully controlled, connected, secured and designed for a sustainable and circular economy.

13 Dec 2019 | By Rahul Kumar

The Bobst headquarters

Sustainability continues to grow in importance, and is now fully integrated into packaging design principles: shape, substrate, colour, sustainability and costs. Furthermore, the unmet needs around workflow and connectivity are on the table, and solutions, largely linked to the digitalisation of the process, will form a major element of discussions at Drupa 2020.

In 2019, the sheetfed business unit leveraged the demand for more automation and more connectivity into IT infrastructures. The trend of automation is growing both in mature and growing markets, where the need to run efficient operations is increasingly top of the agenda.

In 2019, the company celebrated the 300th Mastercut installation at Avance Cartón based in Madrid. The iconic die-cutter offers matchless quality, high running speed, fewer stops and shorter makereadies, and is perfectly designed to cope with the future of packaging production.

Germany has been a major market for the latest Mastercut and Expertcut 145 PER 2.0 featuring the latest technologies for converters who are seeking to industrialise production further.

In growing markets, India is embracing greater automation with the installation of the Ambition 106 A2 folder-gluer at packaging printer BP Lipeds in Baddi and the VisionFold 110 A2 folder-gluer at Vasai-based Kalapi Printing. Mahonar Packaging closed a very large deal at PrintPack India for a greenfield operation to be equipped with three Novacut E die-cutters and three ExpertFold folder-gluers defined as ‘rock solid, sturdy and reliable’ by Aditya Patwardhan, director of the Mahonar Packaging Group.

Going hand-in-hand with die-cutters, the tooling solutions are ramping up quickly, improving quality and productivity for converters. A certified die-maker programme has been launched in Europe and USA, and by the end of 2019, 15 die-makers will already be certified. Peripheral to printing sheets and die-cut blanks, the Bobst digital inspection table was awarded the first prize from the European Digital Print Association (EDP) and installations across Europe and America are accelerating.

In corrugated board, the year was set up for success by installations of the Masterflute Touch in-line laminator in USA, Spain, Portugal and another Novaflute line in China, featuring the most economic glue consumption resulting in dry and flat boards. Within a market still fuelled by the eCommerce growth, the FFG 8.20 Expertline continued to be the best seller.

For high-graphics packaging production, 2019 saw the recently launched THQ FlexoCloud technology gain traction within key clients. The Extended Colour Gamut (ECG) solution — able to reach 95% of the gamut — is helping converters to expand the flexo technology to new markets leveraging their existing equipment and preserving their investments.

Overall in folding carton and corrugated boards production, the labour shortage in North America and Western Europe combined with brand owners requiring more complex boxes almost on-demand, is necessitating process optimisation, for which Bobst is developing a wide range of services on a web platform.

In 2019, the deployment of such services was exceptional, with many tangible benefits of the newly digitised and connected solutions. More information will be shared at drupa.

Looking forward to 2020, Bobst expects the folding carton and corrugated markets to focus on pre-press enhancements, colour management improvements, entire workflow digitalisation, and more robotics and automation, making packaging production more agile.

The company foresees flexo technology expanding into new territories (such as high quality graphics, quality controls and shorter run management) fuelled by more digitalisation and greater automation. Bobst made significant investments for the corrugated board industry with a new competence centre to expand its leadership in corrugated board production. All of them will become operational in 2020. Finally, the company expects process optimisation delivered by the Bobst service organisation to play a major role within clients impacted by lower investments but where quality and productivity standards need to be further amplified.

In labels and flexible packaging, 2019 could be defined by three key phrases: digitalization, color control and sustainability. Major Bobst product announcements showcased how an entire industry is becoming more agile, supporting brand owners needs effectively.

Bobst launched revolutionary innovations. The Ink-On-Demand (IoD) and DigiColor  technology solutions embedded in the Master M5 are transforming the dynamics of the label industry in terms of colour consistency, repeatability and sustainable operation. The Bobst Master DM5 hybrid press, launched at Labelexpo 2019 with Mouvent inkjet technology inside, sets a new benchmark. This is the most digitalised label press to date, capable of dealing with almost any job. This press delivers the highest print quality, along with a full range of added value capabilities, including coating, varnishes, tactile effects, cold foil, embossing, die-cutting, flexo and digital variable data printing (VDP) in a single pass with non-stop productivity.

At K 2019, the announcement of high barrier solutions designed for recyclability very tangibly demonstrated Bobst’s commitments around sustainability. The Expert CI Flexo press was announced at K 2019, offering flexible packaging production, suitable for all run lengths from ultra-short to long, with solvent-based or water-based inks. Compact, ergonomic, easy to operate, it includes exclusive smart technologies for enhanced machine productivity and sustainability benefits.

After having tried and tested the Mouvent digital printing solutions for labels, the first two customers testified their full satisfaction for the new LB702-UV six-colour and seven-colour label press with inline finishing. It prints up to 100-m/min cost effectively, helping them to enter into new applications that they could not address with their existing equipment.

The water-based label press LB702-WB was installed at renowned Belgium company right after the Brussels show and will be further enhanced to become the most efficient water-based label press on the market. It will be featured at Drupa 2020 responding to brand owners sustainability pledges.

Engaging with customers directly was at the core of 2019 and maximising use of the Bobst facilities was instrumental. Four competence centres have evolved to help carry the new industry vision.

Looking forward to 2020, the company foresees a growing demand for sustainable flexible packaging production. It expects some plastic-based packages to move to folding carton and others to use thinner and more advanced flexible material. The move to replace non-recyclable multi-material packaging structures with recyclable mono-material alternatives will grow significantly. It will continue to invest with partners to develop new innovative solutions to help brand owners fulfil their commitments around greater recyclability. The demand for printing applications and processes using water-based and EB ink printing will grow. The label market will drive towards full digitalisation and demand for more embellishment. The use of extended colour gamut will accelerate, with the potential to make spot colours a less critical element in the future.

Finally, and obvious for many readers, 2020 will be the landmark for Drupa — the world’s largest trade fair for printing and packaging technologies — where Bobst will present its vision for the packaging industry. The company believes that the entire production chain needs to be redefined leveraging the Industry 4.0 principles. The packaging factories will evolve with more connectivity, more digitalisation and more automation, impacting machines, processes and humans.

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