Interview with Friedbert Klefenz, President of Bosch Packaging Technology

And in pharmaceuticals?
In the pharmaceutical area, key breakthroughs were the launch of continuous dry heat sterilization and the HQL sterilizing tunnel, helping customers boost efficiency. The development of isolation technology for ampoule filling and sealing machines in 1991 is another example, and this laid the cornerstone in the area of containment where Bosch has been successful ever since. One of our most recent developments is the PreVas disposable filling system. PreVas means pre validated and assembled sterilized. The ready-to-install, fully qualified and validated solution reduces cleaning and maintenance costs and is ideal for handling highly potent substances.

What would be your advice to new businesses in the packaging industry?
I would say focus on the customer, the technology, and the people who are responsible for it – the employees. Other words to live by are I would rather lose money than trust. The trust of customers and employees is vital for us. The quality of products and keeping promises must take precedence over short-term gain and profit. A more obvious point is that new businesses must anticipate future trends.

During the last couple of years, which development was promising?
In addition to product innovations, we entered the Asian market at an early stage. This year we celebrate our 10-year anniversary in China. Today we are the largest packaging machinery company located in China in terms of turnover and we will further expand. Looking at our 2010 sales figures, 20% of our sales were generated in Asia.

We are expecting an increase in buying power in these markets in the next years and decades. Our strategy of developing products for local markets has paid off and will continue to do so in the future. We intend to pursue this strategy in other regions as well, for example in Latin America where we expand our sales and service units.

How about Bosch Packaging Technology in Europe and North America?
Although both markets are saturated, I am satisfied with the development of our business there. Europe and North America are key markets for us, comprising 70% of our sales. In Europe we also have important technical R&D centers. For example, our new ITS, an Intelligent Transport System, was developed at our central R&D facility in Waiblingen, Germany. In Europe as well as in North America, our main focus is to help customers meet changing market demands, gain the competitive edge, and bring down production costs. In both regions, complex and fully automated packaging systems continue to be in high demand.

Is Africa a new focus for Bosch?
Not quite new. Our African engagements started years ago. The reason is: In Africa, the agricultural sector develops rapidly in some regions thanks to foreign investments. Also, the individual buying power is steadily increasing, albeit on a smaller scale compared to Asia. Today, the population of the African continent brings total buying volume in the range of Europe. I believe that in fewer than 20 years our business in Africa will be as large as our current business in Asia.

Bosch Packaging Technology supports the Save Food initiative of the FAO – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

What is your motivation to do so?
The initiative brings home the fact that hunger is still one of the most pressing issues in the world. It also reminds us that waste of food and resources needs to be reduced drastically. Packaging is key when it comes to avoiding food loss and waste. Using packaging machines can help to reduce the loss ratio and avoid the waste of valuable resources.

What will be the major challenges for the packaging industry in the next 10 years?
Around the globe, sustainability is a lasting issue. Sustainability means using less energy, avoiding losses and using easily recyclable packaging materials. In developing countries, reducing food waste will be a major issue. If we want to bring about a sustainable improvement, we all have to act together – from UN organizations to regional governments, the agricultural, packaging and food industries as well as local traders, to overcome this challenge in the future.

I believe food safety regulations will also continue to evolve globally to the stringent level of pharmaceutical standards. Producers need to prepare for increased regulations in order to be competitive. Concerning our industry I am convinced that the consolidation phase is not over but will continue.