How do you produce both energy drink four-packs and 12-oz can double-stacks in the same footprint? It used to be a matter of a laborious mechanical process to change over a multi-diameter multipack systems. But WestRock is integrating new digital tools and capabilities to make the switch a matter of a button-push on a screen with minimized change parts, that achieve change-over times under one hour.
WestRock Packaging Systems’ highly flexible, automated beverage multipack systems enable brands to achieve mass customization at speed and scale to differentiate their products to their consumers. To get there, we design our machines in the cloud using aerospace-quality 3D software and assemble them to include cutting edge connected sensors and servomotors. By working with global partners including Dassault Systems for the software and Bosch for the hardware, we help our customers win with their consumers.
For beverage brands, the market challenge is differentiation: Mature markets are saturated and products need to remain new and innovative. But customization can’t come at the cost of efficiency, so scale remains a critical metric.
Our packaging equipment solutions are a new generation of machines that quickly and automatically move between assembling up to two dozen configurations of container and packaging sizes. Brands need the power to change without losing production time. We provide that ability with machines like our OneTech2 in the attached video, which was recently installed at a Grolsch beer plant in the Netherlands to handle multiple kinds of cluster packs. Or there’s our DuoStack 1250 that can produce single-stacked configurations from 2x2 to 4x6 and double-stacked packaging from 2x2 to 24x24, with tool-less transitions from stacked to flat packaging as short as 30 minutes.
We enhance that flexibility with digital and data-driven capabilities that are often referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). That’s why WestRock Packaging Systems is presenting at this year’s Bosch ConnectedWorld in Berlin, one of the leading European trade events for industrial IoT. One highlight will be a hackathon where industrial developers find new ways to integrate a WestRock Product Orientation Module into processes or design new applications for harnessing data the module collects. The fact that WestRock machinery can be virtually redesigned in the cloud underscores another advantage for customers: Our multipack systems can be updated and reprogramed for future needs without R&D on the floor that would interrupt production.
As our customers’ markets are increasingly disrupted, cost-effective flexibility to put innovative products on shelves becomes ever more critical. One of our beverage customers recently told us they are focusing investment on multipack machines that are “all-singing, all-dancing, all the time.” We believe our combination of deep customer insight, proven mechanical expertise and robust adoption of digital design and smart components means we are delivering that performance.