As drupa 2024 approaches, BOBST has revealed recent developments in its packaging machinery, including energy and cost tracking via the cloud, compatibility with fibre-based and recyclable packaging, reduced waste and energy consumption, and increased productivity.

Two new features have been launched for its cloud-based digital platform, BOBST Connect. This platform intends to improve productivity and is continually updated as BOBST collaborates with its partners in the workflow and automation space.

Workflow with Job and Recipe Management is set to streamline the integration process for customers, allowing them to implement BOBST machines into their existing production and design workflows. They are also expected to unlock fast setup and enhance their productivity with bi-directional job and recipe data synchronization.

Additionally, the Energy Monitoring feature gathers data across jobs, settings, and connected machines to measure energy consumption and costs in real-time.

BOBST has continued to announce a consulting service to guide converters and brand owners through workflow automation, colour and process optimization, end-to-end converting improvements, and regulatory compliance.

It expresses its desire to help its customers achieve their sustainability goals and optimize its own operations – claiming that all new machines purchased in 2024 will improve productivity or efficiency by between 10% and 20%. This includes reductions in waste, substrate, and energy consumption.

BOBST adds that it has sought to make improvements across a range of industry sectors, many of them set to be officially launched at drupa 2024.

In flexible packaging, for example, its smartGRAVURE machine implements automation and digitalization into gravure printing. Aiming to reduce the time and expertise required for setting up and tuning, the technology offers automated colour management, digitalized set-up and controls, and connectivity with BOBST Connect.

smartGRAVURE is expected to raise productivity and output consistency, lessen downtime and complexity, and result in a more sustainable process.

Vacuum metallizing is set to benefit from BOBST’s AI-driven intelligent Metallizing Assistant. Its automated deposition process is designed to support the machine operator and boost output and consistency in the end product.

Similarly, EXPERTLAM 900 is a multi-technology coater and laminator that can be configured in different forms for flexibility in both processes.

When it comes to labelling, BOBST hopes to simplify production for its customers. Its new solutions set their sights on closed-loop workflow from PDF to TWIN PDF; this is anticipated to result in higher productivity, ease of use, and a more sustainable process.

Label converters can use the new features for faster job preparation and completion – and, according to BOBST, this will not rely so heavily on operator skills as traditional processes. A range of new BOBST Connect and pre-press features are said to enhance connection across the production floor, with more details to be revealed at drupa this year.

In pursuit of advanced colour consistency between flexo and digital printing, BOBST has made use of oneECG. Extended Color Gamut printing digitalizes colour matching in a bid to improve upon the capabilities of the human eye; it is hoped to help customers allocate orders to the most suitable technology to reduce waste, increase overall output, and maximize machine utilization and profitability.

BOBST’s oneBARRIER mono-material solutions – including FibreCycle paper-based packaging, a finalist in last year’s Sustainability Awards – were first introduced on the company’s wide-web machines. Now oneBARRIER substrates are compatible with BOBST’s UV-based inline flexo machines on narrow-mid-web solutions, a move expected to benefit the production of high-barrier and recyclable applications.

BOBST’s work in the folding carton industry works towards ‘zero-fault’ packaging. Its EXPERTCUT 106 PER die-cutter offers new features like the ACCUPLATEN system, which increases running speed while reducing the patching effort during setting; it claims to increase performance up to 20%, increase throughput, and take steps towards sustainability.

TooLink is a platform designed to connect machines and tooling and optimize flexibility, job turnaround times, and general productivity by uniting the whole converting process. BOBST has announced that it will soon be applied to folder-gluers to automate recipe management, unlock shorter, simpler changeover, check tool quality, and improve production quality.

For corrugated board, the company is pursuing end-to-end efficiency with a range of robotic solutions for loading and palletizing. These are designed to help customers achieve complete and seamless production lines.

New machines have been added to its lineup, including its flexo folder gluer (FFG) extension. With regular slotted carton (RSC) converting in mind, the additions work towards flexible printing (1/2 colours) and die-cutting; short set-up times with robust designs; and, with the new BOBST JUMBO solution, it hopes to encompass a full line, including stitching, taping, and inline folder-gluer.

MASTERFLEX HD+ is a reference flexo printer that, in BOBST’s view, delivers ‘unmatched’ productivity and high-quality print. Reportedly reaching a throughput of 15,000 sheets per hour and an area of 52 million square meters per year, its new feeder, upstream pre-feeder, and stacker outlet claim to achieve an 8% increase in productivity.

As well as its updated BOBST Connect, the company plans to extend the capacity of its EMEA Logistics Hub by over 60% this year. This is planned to expand its customer reach and service quality while bringing its Genk-based site in line with ‘the highest sustainability certifications’.

Its Remote Assistance service utilizes video and TeamViewer to deliver ‘fast’ and ‘high-priority’ support for electrical and mechanical issues via augmented reality. As such, it is said to reduce downtime – and it now provides live captions and chat translation.

Another addition is its Operational Excellence programme, with which BOBST provides its combined data analysis, process expertise, and consultancy to help customers improve their operations.

A personalized walkthrough of BOBST’s applications, services, and software for the packaging industry will be available at drupa 2024. Visitors to the stage will be presented with a live-show experience recounting BOBST’s industry storylines on a ‘concept machine’.

“We have made great progress with our vision to shape the future of the packaging world based on the pillars of connectivity, digitalization, automation, and sustainability,” said Jean-Pascal Bobst, CEO of Bobst Group. “Now, with an extensive portfolio of solutions that answer our clients’ needs, we can tailor our offering to them based on their evolving requirements over the years to come.

“Our latest solutions announced today, embed machines and software with the aim to increase performance, complementing our global offering beyond machine operation, helping us all to build towards a more connected and sustainable future.”

Our editor at large, Elisabeth Skoda, spoke to a range of attendees to find out what we should expect to see at drupa 2024 and how it builds on previous years.

In other news, Ranpak revealed three new digital tools to enhance its Cut’it! EVO automated in-line packaging machine earlier this year. These were anticipated to keep its customers in line with regulatory requirements while benefitting their competitiveness on the market.

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