The leaders at BOBST were seeing a growing demand for flexible packaging and wanted a way to demonstrate what it had to offer its customers. Those discussions led to the expansion of what the company calls its “Competence Center,” which is in the early stages of construction in Georgia and slated to open in 2024.
“The new Competence Center in Atlanta will be a valuable resource for the print industry in North America,” says Katie Graham, BOBST regional marketing and communications manager. “It will provide a space for converters to learn about the latest trends in flexo printing and how to use BOBST’s technology to their advantage.”
The center also will help to build relationships between converters and suppliers and to serve as a source of research and development, Graham adds. BOBST is a global supplier of substrate processing, printing, and converting equipment for the label, flexible packaging, folding carton, and corrugated board industries.
The company would not disclose how much it is investing in the center. But Graham says the research and relationships will be invaluable as the company continues to develop new technologies to meet the needs of the print industry in North America.
“The new center is a significant investment in the print industry, and it is a clear indication of BOBST’s commitment to this region,” she adds. “The center will help to strengthen the print industry in North America and to keep it competitive in the global market.”
Founded in 1890 in Switzerland, BOBST runs 19 production facilities in 11 countries and employs more than 6,100 people worldwide. BOBST North America Inc. is based in New Jersey. The new Competence Center, which will be expanded beyond the scope of an original demonstration center, will be in Cumming, a suburb of Atlanta.
“This new Competence Center will be around five times the size of our previous demonstration center in Alpharetta, and by adding flexible packaging solutions to our label portfolio, we are putting the full range of BOBST’s offer firmly on the map here in the U.S.,” Emilio Corti, region business director, Americas at BOBST, said in a statement. “The center will allow visitors to see our latest technologies up close and even try out their jobs on our machines. It will be a new hub of innovation and collaboration in the U.S. market.”
The timing of the project was strategic, the company also says.
“The global demand for flexible packaging is growing, and BOBST wanted to be at the forefront of this trend,” Graham says, who adds that flexibles increasingly are used in products from food to beverages to personal care products.
“The demand for flexible packaging is growing because it is a lightweight, durable, and cost-effective way to package products,” she says. “We are working toward a more sustainable world of flexible packaging and to create packaging that is recyclable and environmentally friendly.”
The Flexible Packaging Association’s annual “State of the U.S. Flexible Packaging Industry Report” released earlier this year estimates that the total flexible packaging industry in the U.S. produced about $42.9 billion in annual sales in 2022. That is a 15.3% increase from the $37.2 billion in 2021, the report says.
Flexible packaging is the second largest packaging segment in the U.S., with corrugated paper being No. 1. And it accounts for about 21% of the overall packaging industry, according to the report.
Other Center Details
BOBST’s new center will also showcase label printing technology. And it will include several new features:
- A training center that will offer courses on flexo printing and other printing technologies.
- A customer experience center where converters can see the company’s latest products and solutions in action.
- Research and development capabilities where BOBST can support the development of new technologies and solutions.
“As well as providing easy access for those in the U.S. to the latest BOBST technologies, the Competence Center will create a best-in-class customer experience,” Corti says. “We can use it to support and train customers on our equipment, showing how to maximize the technology and fulfill their needs whether that is greater efficiency, productivity, sustainability, or something else.”
Editor’s note: The location of the Competence Center was updated on December 7, 2023.
Thomas A. Barstow is senior editor at FlexPackVOICE®.