The already booming e-commerce sector has skyrocketed even further in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with global revenue from online sales in the second quarter of 2020 growing by an extraordinary 71% compared to the previous year.1
With the vast majority of online products delivered in corrugated packaging, the use of corrugated board in e-commerce is set to expand rapidly—at a CAGR of 14.3% through to 2022, compared to a CAGR of 2.9 for packaging overall.2
For corrugated manufacturers and converters, these surges in demand can be very challenging to deal with, but are a fact of modern business life. These are disruptive times—even before the global pandemic, technology had disrupted retail and manufacturing on a global scale. Combine ever-increasing competition and pressures around shorter times to market, smaller lot sizes, sustainability and quality control, and the pressures are manifold.
Although nobody could have predicted the pandemic, BOBST had already been leading a necessary transformation in the industry to ensure it is prepared for
a rapidly changing world. BOBST has built this transformation around four main pillars: connectivity, digitalization, automation and sustainability. Right now, these values—particularly automation and connectivity—are more essential than ever.
These values are perfectly encapsulated by the BOBST FFG 8.20 EXPERTLINE, which is simply the most efficient solution to make corrugated boxes. It is a highly automated and modular Flexo Folder-Gluer line, which combines multiple flexo press units with slotter, rotary die-cutter and folder-gluer elements. It can convert up to 24,000 boxes per hour, with an incredible set-up or change time of less than two minutes.
This is possible because it is so highly automated, with non-stop feeding at rated speed and smooth and ultra-quick order changeover. Pre-feeding is automatic without operator intervention, as is the introduction of the first sheets of each order. The machine uses Sequential Order Change (SOC) to achieve these ultra-quick set-up times with optimal safety conditions for the operators. Each part of the line begins its set-up of the next job while sheets from the previous order are still clearing its downstream units.
With this advanced level of automation, fewer operators—only two—are needed. They benefit from an extremely user-friendly interface, with an intuitive HMI (human machine interface) allowing full control of the machine through box visualization. The user-friendliness of the line allows for a very fast learning curve for new operators, in case mobility is needed between production lines.
Folding is all fully automated and crucially, the reliability and quality of the boxes are extremely consistent. But the key aspect of the BOBST FFG 8.20 EXPERTLINE for e-commerce pack-aging is its extraordinary productivity. Short set-up times, high speeds and high reliability mean that high volume orders can be met. “If I had to pick a phrase to describe this machine,” said one BOBST customer, Jimmy Garfinkle, who is president of BOBST Mitchel-Lincoln Packaging, “it would be ‘Total Productivity.’ Not only did we replace an aging machine with the new capabilities,” he said, “but we more than doubled our productivity on that line.”
It has also helped companies to
break world records. In 2020, Saica Warrenpoint, a UK-based corrugated converting plant, achieved a world-record throughput of 191,300 boxes in a single eight hour shift on a BOBST FFG 8.20 BS EXPERTLINE.
On top of this exceptional productivity, the line is able to produce multiple height boxes to reduce environmental impact and costs for e-commerce through optimization of the shipping volume, of which 40% is currently air. It offers the widest box range in this category, with a smallest panel of 90mm, a major asset in e-commerce.
e-commerce means taking some uncer-tainties out of the equation—by utilizing greater automation, connectivity, flexi-bility and quality control in production lines through solutions like the BOBST
FFG 8.20 EXPERTLINE, ensuring that challenges become opportunities.