Jean-Pascal Bobst is the fourth generation of his family to take the helm at BOBST, a world-leading supplier of processing, printing and converting equipment and services for the label and packaging industries. Founded in 1890 in Switzerland, the company operates in more than 50 countries and employs more than 5,800 people across the globe. Today, when sustainability is at the forefront of every company’s agenda, BOBST’s packaging expertise and innovations are more important than ever before.

“We have very clear strategies to develop recyclable packaging, create less waste and design machines to use less water and ink,” says Mr. Bobst, who was named CEO in 2009.

We talk to Mr. Bobst about how data is transforming the industry and its business models, and Bobst’s dedication to building a more sustainable future.

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Accenture: Can you share examples of groundbreaking technology innovations at BOBST?

Jean-Pascal Bobst: One example is how we are changing the business model of how we sell equipment and services. Most of the time, we sell a machine and then sell services on the side. Our new business model focuses on selling equipment with performance solutions. This means we offer digital service value on top of the physical product such as optimized consumables or service uptime, which is made possible in particular through IoT-powered connectivity. As an example, the BOBST Remote Monitoring application is a comprehensive production reporting Software-as-a-Service designed to access remotely detailed machine production, process and technical data in real time. This has transformed our client relationships, making us jointly responsible for their equipment achieving the best possible performance. We only launched this new business model two years ago, and I believe it will continue to evolve and make up the majority of our sales within five to ten years.

Accenture: What is BOBST’s role in driving the sustainability agenda?

JPB: The first sustainability report we printed was in 2000, so we started early. However, we know we need to put much more emphasis on developing the right solutions for the digital packaging supply chain in order to optimize the industry’s overall impact. With 65% recycled packaging by 2025, the European Commission has set an ambitious sustainable development goal for converters. Achieving it will require equipment that uses ever-less inks, consumables and energy as well as recyclable and biodegradable substrates. These are the areas where BOBST and its partners are increasing investments and innovations. We have very clear strategies to develop recyclable packaging, create less waste and design machines to use less water to clean equipment and less ink. For example, the new ACCUCHECK has been designed to meet customers’ needs to produce “zero-fault” packaging, which means right first time, every time. By checking the quality of every package throughout the production process it helps decrease waste up to 20% and improves quality of the final product. It also ensures brand conformity, reduces production costs and generates a better management of unforeseen events.

Accenture: What is BOBST’s approach to developing new materials and techniques that minimize environmental impact?

Dr. KB: Finding sustainable alternatives to non-recyclable plastics is one of the most important challenges of our time. It is a particular challenge for flexible packaging such as that used for food packaging. Flexible plastic materials are really the best packaging for food and, of course, one of our main drivers is to provide food for everybody on this planet. I’m therefore convinced that plastics are here to stay if they are used and reused sustainably. However, we have developed recyclable plastics that do not contain aluminum foil or any treatment that prevents recycling. BOBST has been working hard with partners in that area and in 2021 we launched the “Generation 2.0” samples of high barrier flexible packaging solutions designed for recyclability, taking us to our ultimate goal of being able to provide completely recyclable packaging solutions. These breakthroughs will help the industry to become much more responsible.

At BOBST, we embrace the value of industry collaborations and partnerships along the whole flexible packaging value chain, while increasing digitalization, automation, and connectivity in the process. All players—including governments and each of us—must act now in order to change the way packages are designed, produced and used to ultimately help meet the sustainability pledges that have been made by organizations all over the world.

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