“Customers no longer buy machines,” said Jean-Pascal Bobst, CEO of the Switzerland-based Bobst Group. “They buy solutions.”
At K this year, solutions were what the company was providing. The first was a series of applications called oneBARRIER and made possible by the ecosystem of partnerships established by the company that includes Dow, Michelman, Sun Chemical, UPM, Huhtamaki and Zermatt. With the launch of this oneBARRIER family of flexible packaging options here at K, the company aims to supply the market with the packaging solutions needed ‘to meet deadlines on sustainability’, said Nick Copeland, CTO at Bobst.
“The timelines for sustainability are fast running out. A lot of solutions have to be ready by 2025 or earlier. Collaboration is key. We need to bring the experts together to bring the solutions to the market.”
The new family is built on three pillars- three different approaches to enhance the sustainability of flexible packaging. The first, and by far the one with the largest market share said Copeland, is the mono-material structure based on PE or PP. Called PrimeCycle, it is an EVOH-free, top-coat free polyolefin-based barrier solution that offers an alternative to metallised polyester film.
“The examples on show here at K2022 are a major advance compared to the first generation of samples that we presented at K 2019. Our third generation, Hero 3.0, goes beyond just concepts, offering real applications, converted and printed on real-scale equipment,” said Copeland. Bobst’s PrimeCycle barrier film has been awarded a recyclability score of 98% by Institute Cyclos-HTP for recyclability and product responsibility. “It is an extraordinarily high recyclability level for a barrier film,” said Copeland.
The second pillar is a family of paper or fibre-based structures, with which the company is moving away from polymers. Called FibreCycle, it is a full paper, mono-material solution that is wholly recyclable in the paper waste stream, Copeland emphasized. The third trend, or pillar, consists of flexible packaging solutions that are compostable, biodegradable and/or biobased, mainly in response to customer demand.
One complete solution Bobst was also introducing was a new end-to-end fully flexible complete solution for the packaging workflow. Bobst has a full flexible packaging offering. Most of the inefficiency in the packaging supply chain is the supply chain itself, said Jean Pascal Bobst.
“We have streamlined this process, making major improvements with a portfolio of workflows that connect all steps from production and pre-press through to the reels of printed or laminated substrates or high-barrier films or paper. The package is completely integrated and highly flexible.” In other words, he added, the job is the key driver.
Converters won’t need to acquire the whole package, said Sara Alexander, marketing and communications manager for flexible packaging at Bobst. “Converters can simply select what they need for their particular application.” The company was also offering what it calls ‘application management’ for the first time here at K. Application management, said Alexander, can help potentially fast-track key industry applications.
“Or it can provide guidance on the right choice of technology, process, eco-systems of partners, to comply with a brand owner request or a business case for the industry. It can also be a consultation service, for example, for a new greenfield project.”
An important element in the new One complete solution is Bobst Connect, which the company is also showing at the fair – a cloud-based digital platform that links the different steps of the production process through a digitalised and automated workflow. It offers data and digital services in a fully connected cloud. Most importantly, it can link Bobst production equipment with a third-party software. It is already commercially available.
“We are not selling connectivity,” said Jean-Pascal Bobst. “We are selling enhanced productivity.” He added that starting next year, the tool will be a standard feature on all Bobst production cells and machines – although, as Bobst currently has a portfolio of over 70 products, full implementation across the range will take four or five years, he said. New features will be added to the tool every six months.