Connectivity, automation, digitization, environment: Jean-Pascal Bobst keeps repeating, this is the future of printing and modeling of smooth and corrugated cardboard, paper and other complex packaging. In June 2020, in the midst of the Covid crisis, the Swiss group’s boss aimed to build the future of his company on these four pillars and adapt his printing and forming machines accordingly. Two years later, it remains a sure sign – as he announced during a press conference in Mex (Switzerland), at the group’s headquarters, on June 8 – that “the recent economic, political and health crises prove him right”. The group he chairs is doing well. Turnover increased by almost 200 million from CHF 1.3 billion to CHF 1.5 billion between 2020 and 2021 and the order backlog is full. “ We will probably do even better in 2022 because demand is very strong, in all the businesses where we are present and in all regions of the world. The war in Ukraine only impacted us by up to 50 million euros,” he said. he guarantees. What to approach the future with serenity.
If the digital revolution has already started for some time at Bobst, whether it’s just Mouvent label presses, or connected tools, or even the control interfaces of its folders and quality control, the next few weeks will also be the ones where Bobst Connect, the The group’s new connected platform, will be released after launch on June 22. The idea is to digitize the machines as much as possible, collect as much production data as possible and use it for analysis and improvement. The architecture responds to the IoT model: each machine corresponds to an object. Data can be consulted remotely, via the cloud. For packaging converters, accustomed, it is true, to still traditional processes, the change is radical. But, as Léonard Badet, the group’s R&D manager, reminds us, this tool “will allow better management of the workforce in a market where recruitment is becoming increasingly complicated and will offer manufacturers the possibility to further automate processes and increase the productivity of your assets”. Concretely, Bobst Connect will allow packaging and labeling manufacturers to access all the main performance indicators of the facilities, from the yield, the quantity produced, to the famous overall efficiency rate (Overall Equipment Effectiveness, OEE) in passing through the number of breakdowns, their duration, their nature, the waste produced, ink consumption, etc. Some manufacturers already offer these services. Bobst proposes to go further, responding to unmet needs. The manufacturer quotes one of its French customers, Autajon, in its presentation: “We were able to calculate the OEE, but we would be very interested in knowing in more detail the waste we produce. We are not able to do this alone.” With Bobst Connect, machine data – including waste produced – is analyzed in real time, reworked and synthesized in the form of tables, the famous “dashboards”, customizable according to individual needs, with the aim of , finally, to focus on the dysfunctions to eliminate them. “From July onwards, all machines leaving our workshops will be able to be connected”, says Leonardo Badet.
Ouitl specialist but open
Questions related to data security and cyber attacks? The manufacturer relies on Microsoft’s ability to manage, as a service provider, the links and servers. “We are not going to reinvent the dust, the tests we have carried out so far are conclusive, our tool is safe and will respect the confidentiality required”, sweeps Léonard Badet. A second step will be to use this platform to prepare work on machines in advance, to manage tools and maintenance issues. In this case, Bobst opted for an open tool, capable of interfacing with other software and machines used in the market, such as DTP solutions such as Esko and Illustrator. Eventually, according to Jean-Pascal Bobst’s vision, the entire packaging manufacturing and printing process will be digitized and overseen by Bobst Connect, which will operate within the framework of a complex yet seamlessly communicative ecosystem. The manufacturer sees several important advantages for its processing customers, first of all greater responsiveness, but also defect-free production, more agility and the possibility to better respond to market changes, represented, for example, by e-commerce. At the same time, the manufacturer wants to involve the upstream part of the graphic chain, that is, the brands and designers, and the downstream part, from the packer to the final consumer, through the distributor. Thus, everyone should be able to benefit from greater “connectivity”, the brand, for example, will be able to count on a faster time-to-market, avoiding multiple round trips and coordinating the work of printers located in the four corners of the world. when the distributor – or the e-merchant – will be able to track your orders thanks to the QR codes that will be printed on the package at your request. This “vision” also involves the development of a single PDF that will contain the graphic information, clearly the visual and the information contained in the packaging, as is currently the case, but also the data that will allow controlling the printing stations or the jet heads from paint, to the nearest picoliter, to cutting and shaping tools, including, of course, finishing. “We will get there, but it will take another five or seven years,” he said. understands Jean-Pascal Bobst. Automated factories, equipped with connected machines, working from files combining visuals, information and data for production: the revolution is for tomorrow in printing!
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