BOBST Competence Center To Become Innovation Pipeline in North America
When BOBST announced its plan to open a Competence Center in Atlanta, Georgia, it invited Packaging Impressions to see how this significant investment would meet the evolving needs of label and packaging printers and converters.
The new facility, which will dwarf the size of BOBST’s previous demonstration center in Alpharetta, is intended to become a hub of innovation and collaboration in the U.S. market. Converters will be able to use the large facility, which will be five times the size of the previous demonstration center, to work with BOBST experts to conduct trial runs tailored to print buyers’ requirements encompassing machines, workflow, substrates, and services without the need to disrupt planned production schedules in their own factories. Package printers and converters can also see the newest BOBST equipment and learn how BOBST technology can help them increase their operations’s efficiency, productivity, sustainability, and profitability.
To help packaging converters understand how they can use the Competence Center in the future and how the Center will help North American converters and brand owners learn, innovate, and optimize how they use technologies in wide- and narrow-web flexo, digital, hybrid printing, and lamination, Packaging Impressions interviewed BOBST North America executives close to the project: Matt Bennett, business unit zone director for narrow-web, Midwest; Dan Conrad, project manager; Emilio Corti, region business director, Americas; Mark Fleming, Americas service director for mid-web business; and Thierry Fontolliet, National Sales Director.
Center of reference for North America
The Competence Center is now being constructed to support and house a wide range of the company’s best-in-class equipment, which enables BOBST to not only showcase the technology throughout the year but also introduce solutions to converters looking to expand their printed and converted packaging offerings. “Our commitment is to provide machinery throughout the year,” says Corti. “This is not bringing a machine for an open house; we will keep them ready and available throughout the year and we will staff the Competence Center with high-end profiles to support the industry at 360 degrees.”
Bennett explains that the sizable investment also demonstrates that “we clearly see there’s a great opportunity for growth for our business.” Furthermore, Bennett sees the new Center supporting the ongoing industry trend of converters looking at diversifying their printing portfolios “as we house our narrow- and mid-web business with our wide-web business to support a blurring of the lines in the marketplace.
“Many wide-web flexo printers of flexible packaging are moving downstream to inline narrower equipment or mid-web equipment,” Bennett adds. “At the same time, there are label printers moving into flexible packaging applications and opportunities too. People who come to see a narrow- or mid-web label press will be able to walk over to see our wide web CI press during the same visit and vice versa.”
Specifically addressing the interest in the flexible packaging market, Corti says, “Like with all other BOBST packaging centers in Europe, Asia, and South America, the new North America Center will be a venue open to customers to test our solutions but it will also enhance cooperations with industry players and become a center of reference for flexible packaging in North America.”
Technology to revolutionize printing, converting packaging
BOBST aims to use the North American Competence Center to meet the evolving needs of its customers in several ways. The facility will house a range of advanced technologies and machinery. The Center will be staffed by experienced engineers and technicians who can provide comprehensive technical support to North American converters and printers. The facility will become a place for ongoing collaboration with customers.
The machinery to be housed at the Center includes digital, flexo, and hybrid printing presses and converting, finishing, and inspection equipment. Giving an example of some of the equipment that BOBST is preparing to house, Bennett says, “We’re extremely excited to also have our DM340 all-in-one digital hybrid press as well as our highly advanced Master Six flexo press at our facility!”
The DM340 is a modular and upgradable label press that combines BOBST flexo experience with recent innovative inkjet developments to provide a fully digitalized and automated production line, from printing to embellishment and diecutting.
The Master M6 is engineered to deliver the foremost flexibility to package printers and cartons with its ability to print labels, flexible packaging, and folding cartons. The press is also equipped with DigiFlexo automation and oneECG technology to deliver nonstop production through a centralized, fully digitalized press operation.
Noting how the Competence Center will help the North American package printing industry as a whole, Conrad says, “We will be close to our industry partners, and close to our customers — working together in innovation. This site is a single flight from virtually anywhere in North America. The site choice was very strategic.”
Already, BOBST is getting requests to test different applications. “Even today, we’re getting requests to do different things with different substrates, different embellishments, different priming,” Bennett says. “There are so many many things happening in the marketplace right now.”
One trend Bennett is seeing in the package printing and converting marketplace is that “label printers want to print everything they can on whatever technology they invest in.” Bennett adds, “There aren’t many label printers who want to say ‘no’ to custom requests for jobs so they want a flexible machine.”
Package printers serving all markets are also looking to optimize their operations. “They also want to be very efficient,” Bennett says. “So, they’re embracing our go-to-market approach with our All-in-One technology, which prints, finishes, and embellishes all in line so you don’t have to go to secondary processes.”
In the flexible packaging market, Fontolliet sees “it’s more about the changes in the structure of the package instead of embellishment. This is being driven by the need for better recyclability of flexible packaging substrates. So the trend is for flexible packaging converters to move to mono material whenever possible.”
Running many of these more sustainable materials can be a challenge for printers. Therefore, it becomes even more important to monitor and analyze printing and converting processes. “When people start to come to our Competence Center, they’re going to see how everything ties together,” Fleming says. “We’ll be able to show a sort of a war room, where on the monitors, they can see the status of all the equipment, the equipments’s efficiency, and how to use that data.”
Conrad notes that this will be especially helpful for flexo customers. “Under a digital printing process, it’s fairly obvious how you get a file in,” he says. “We plan to have platemaking at the Center that will create a path for a digital file to follow through the entire process. These files will go into systems like our quality control systems and our digital inspection table.”
The system showcased will be BOBST Connect, which is an all-in-one digital platform that enhances and improves package manufacturing productivity by bringing data and digital services together in one fully connected platform.
How to leverage the competence center
For now, converters must wait to experience BOBST’s new Competence Center. However, the company is exhibiting for the first time at PRINTING United Expo. It encourages attendees to come to booth B17059 to learn more about the company’s offerings and how to leverage this new technology center.