A quality assurance solution from BST

© BST GmbH

BST draws a positive conclusion for 2023 and focuses on innovations in 2024

BST GmbH is a major player in the web-processing industry: its intelligent solutions mitigate current challenges in various sectors. In the face of complex framework conditions such as energy shortages, a lack of skilled workers, sustainability requirements and economic pressure, the company relies on innovation to meet the requirements of its customers from a wide range of sectors such as printing and packaging, paper and films, rubber and tyres, batteries and fuel cells, while ensuring the highest quality standards. “This is possible thanks to SMARTData, which enables us to optimise production processes across all processes and make a valuable contribution to conserving the raw materials used in terms of sustainability, as well as through consistent customer proximity,” says Jörg Westphal, Executive Vice President for the Flexible Materials division. In this interview, he gives a brief outline of last year’s challenges and successes as well as his visions for 2024.

In 2023, BST took part in all relevant German and international trade fairs in its sectors. What was your motivation and what is your conclusion?

2023 was indeed an intensive trade fair year. The feedback from our customers was very positive across the board. After the pandemic-related break, it became clear that we need trade fairs. B2B sales is and remains a people’s business and direct customer contact is essential for successful business relationships. Only through personal dialogue can we gain a realistic impression of what moves our customers. That is why we will continue our trade fair programme in 2024. And that is also why we are continuing to evaluate which markets we need to become more involved in, possibly with new branches. For example, two of our international subsidiaries have moved into new premises: BST Italia with a new location in Florence and BST Iberica is now operating at a new address in Barcelona.

From 28 May to 7 June 2024, BST will be represented at drupa, the world’s leading trade fair for printing technologies, in Düsseldorf. What can visitors expect at the BST stand?

We will be setting off a veritable firework display of innovations and are looking forward to presenting numerous new products after an 8-year break. The focus will be on user-orientated and networkable complete solutions that generate real added value for customers.

What messages would you like to convey to customers and interested parties with your trade fair appearance?

BST sees it as its task to understand the challenges and problems of customers in a wide range of manufacturing sectors and to develop systems that are easy to use and enable long-term process optimisation and increased efficiency. Whether it’s waste avoidance, resource conservation or digitalisation, BST systems provide tailor-made answers to the industry’s current issues and give users a valuable sense of security across all process steps. Smart data is the keyword here.

How can BST specifically optimise production processes with smart data?

SMARTData is a manufacturer-independent concept and makes it possible to integrate and standardise the digital workflow. This ensures perfect printing results: The system integrates prepress solutions across process boundaries to create productivity-enhancing applications: By automatically providing all required data to all components right at the start of the job, SMARTData eliminates set-up time and the resulting waste, as the centralised job interface prevents manual errors. As the process continues, SMARTData logs all anomalies (events) with positional accuracy and analyses the data for automatic optimisation. This applies not only to the process currently being analysed, but also to downstream processes. Thanks to the large amount of data collected, we can also anticipate future problems and know today what our customers will need tomorrow.

In addition to the core business of printing and packaging, your company is also increasingly focussing on the battery industry. How is BST positioned here?

BST generates the majority of its turnover in the print and packaging sector, but battery and fuel cell production is becoming increasingly important worldwide and also for us as a company. The Asian market in particular is opening up promising business relationships. That is why we founded a new subsidiary, Elexis BST Korea, just in time for the start of 2024. This will enable us to directly serve the most promising region for the battery industry at present and fully utilise the high market volume that South Korea offers. In order to meet the demand for our system solutions, in this case surface inspection, we officially opened our new BST Italia production site in Florence in October last year. This serves as a centre of excellence for the BST iPQ-Surface surface inspection systems, a core solution for the battery industry. At the end of 2023, we were able to record an order intake above budget – including the largest single order in BST’s company history to date. Without the creation of the new Italian production site, it would not have been possible to realise this order. The production of iPQ-Surface ENERGY is of strategic importance for BST in the new battery and fuel cell markets.

You just mentioned iPQ-Surface as the core solution for the battery industry. What are the USPs of your surface inspection system?

Our high-end inspection system specifically for battery cell production is iPQ-Surface ENERGY: it ensures the flawless quality of the coating and separator film across all process steps and thus lays the foundation for a first-class end product. The system consists of high-resolution cameras, multiplex lighting and a software architecture with numerous interfaces for easy integration into Industry 4.0 environments. Other features include AI-based defect classification and seamless documentation of quality as well as clear visualisation of all measurement results and defects. This allows iPQ-Surface ENERGY to effectively reduce material waste – a decisive factor in terms of environmental protection and energy efficiency, as the reject rate in battery cell production is currently in the double-digit range. In addition, iPQ-Surface ENERGY, like all our solutions, impresses with its clear user interface. This makes the system intuitive and easy to use, which is a major advantage when it comes to tackling the shortage of skilled labour.

In recent years, the global political situation has led to component shortages and supply bottlenecks in numerous industries. How did BST meet this challenge?

The shortage of components was a major challenge, both for development and liquidity. But as the saying goes: extraordinary situations require extraordinary measures. We had to get creative in order to obtain the necessary electronic components. For example, we had to redesign our circuit boards several times to ensure our ability to deliver. This also enabled us to avoid having to pass on price increases 1:1 to our customers. Fortunately, the situation is currently easing again.

What do you see as the future challenges facing the industry and what solutions does BST offer to overcome them?

The e-mobility sector will continue to grow in the future. In addition, sustainable production processes are becoming increasingly important against the backdrop of the energy transition. BST acts as a direct partner to the battery and fuel cell industry in this area and uses highly efficient quality assurance systems to help ensure that only 100 percent safe and reliable end products are created. Systems such as iPQ-Surface also help customers to achieve sustainability targets by effectively avoiding rejects. Of course, this applies not only to the battery industry, but to all web-processing industries. Our aim is to continue to precisely identify the needs of our customers in the future and support them with holistic solutions to optimise the entire plant operation.


Did you like the content? Share now:

Support us

Support independent and dedicated journalism!

We do not believe in paywalls. Our mission is to serve our industries with up-to-date, independently researched information on the topics that really matter to our community. As a start-up company, M2N Media GmbH comprises of a small team of dedicated people with decades of experience in our industries. If you like what we have to offer, please consider a recurring financial contribution!

We want to grow and become even better at what we do. You can help us in writing our success story! Join the M2N Supporters Club!

Support now via PayPal

Our top supporters will receive all print issues for free! Thank you for your contribution!

To top