BST GmbH – Leading Full-Range Supplier of Quality Assurance Systems

The successful evolution of the business now known as BST GmbH began with the development of the first register control system for gravure printing machines by the company eltromat in 1960. The company, now a subsidiary of elexis AG, has added many innovative system solutions to its product portfolio over the years and has become one of the world's leading full-range suppliers of quality-assurance systems for the web-processing industries. BST GmbH's extensive product portfolio includes individual components, compatible systems for new machines, retrofit equipment, and complete automation and workflow solutions for web guiding, surface inspection, web monitoring, register control, 100% inspection, color measurement and management, and automation.

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The company has more than 15,000 customers all over the world in the printing and packaging, paper and film, rubber and tire, battery and fuel cell, and printed and organic electronics industries. BST is currently managed by the Management Board of elexis AG, which includes Alexander-Felix Heck and Ingo Koesfeld, and its operations have expanded far beyond Germany: the establishment of BST France in 1983 was followed by subsidiaries BST North America, BST Japan, BST Italia, BST Iberica, BST Latina, BST India, and, in 2005, BST China. Every day, over 360 employees at the main production plant in Bielefeld and 600 employees at international locations are working to optimiz the production processes of customers using innovative products and services in accordance with the BST pledge: “Perfecting your Performance.”

Perfection through innovation

First-class products require first-class quality. This applies to the production or conversion of web materials in general, whether it be packaging, foil extrusion, printed electronics, the production of battery cells or narrow web printing. Ensuring smooth production processes and high-quality results in these web-processing industries requires advanced technology for continuous quality monitoring. For decades, BST GmbH has been demonstrating its pioneering spirit and powers of innovation in this field. In 1974, the company developed the world’s first register control system with light-guide sensors. In 1990, it set standards with the world’s first 100% inspection system. And in 2018, it brought out the FRAMEGuide, a unique pivoting frame design for web guiding that allows maximum precision with the smallest possible installation space. More recently, at the beginning of 2022, BST introduced an innovative product called PROView in the field of web monitoring<s>:</s> This individually adaptable system monitors printing processes even at very high web speeds of 1,000 meters per minute. To this day, inventiveness and an innovative mindset continue to form an integral part of the company’s DNA. “These days, when supplies can sometimes be short and energy is scarce as well, we want to support our customers with forward-looking technology and wide-ranging expertise in quality assurance and process optimization,” says Jörg Westphal, executive vice president of the Business Unit Flexible Materials with key responsibility for development, sales and marketing at BST. “So we are supplying customized system solutions optimized to the needs of users – to ensure the best product results and satisfied customers.”

Perfectly fitting solutions for every field of application

Depending on the requirement and field of use, customers can choose between single components, standard applications or systems linked up through a complex network. The focus is always on the best possible fit between customer needs and products. BST's dense global network of sales and service points enables comprehensive customer support from the start, allowing the solution to be precisely aligned to individual customer requirements in any given case.. Whether it is a matter of guiding the web in a variety of production processes, registering print marks, or adhering to prescribed color standards, BST can offer the perfect solution.

The innovative iPQ-Surface system is one of the most recent products in the field of surface inspection, which is a core competency at BST. Using superior grade hardware components like high-resolution cameras and multiplex illumination, this surface inspection system reliably performs real-time identification of typical defects in a variety of materials as well as in coatings and laminations.

Thanks to their modular design and flexible plug-and-play technology, BST solutions can be perfectly integrated into existing industrial infrastructure. “What all BST systems have in common are benefits to the customer that can be measured straightaway,” says Westphal. “In concrete terms, that means time and money saved, higher production rates and consistently flawless results. Naturally, our systems also satisfy international standards for use globally.”

Automation and digitization of production processes

“To make sure our customers can overcome all of the present and future challenges of their day-to-day production, we support them with intelligent application solutions as well as tailored automation systems,” says Jörgen Schumacher, director of the Industry Solutions area at BST. “As part of that work, we combine optical systems with networked BST web guiding systems. The result is solutions that deliver maximum efficiency for our customers’ systems and that can not only identify defects, but can also prevent them over the long term.” The product portfolio for comprehensively optimized production processes is rounded out by SMARTData: This central data management feature with open interfaces makes it possible to integrate various systems, including systems and sensors from other suppliers. When quality data incorporates web positions, it becomes possible to exploit and work with this data across processes. This enables complete quality documentation and maximum quality control for the end product.

Long-term process optimization

In addition to guaranteeing production results of consistently high quality, BST systems make a major contribution to the acceleration of production workflows and the long-term optimization of the entire value chain. Through early detection, documentation and analysis of defects with the help of BST quality assurance systems, manufacturers can target reductions in material waste and significantly increase overall equipment efficiency. These systems also allow BST GmbH to meet its responsibility with regard to resource conservation and the protection of the environment and climate.

Maximum customer focus

“A customer relationship based on a spirit of partnership doesn’t end with the conclusion of a contract,” says Jörg Westphal. “Our commitment to perfecting your performance refers not just to supplying first-class products and solutions that allow our customer to maximize its quality and productivity but also to guaranteeing this performance globally over the long term.” With locations in ten countries on four continents and approximately 100 service employees working in the field, BST provides a wide-coverage international service network ready to help with equipment start-up, maintenance or repair. This allows the company to support its customers during the entire production process – from material manufacturing to further handling and conversion. “Satisfying the individual needs of our customers in the best possible way and responding to the growing demands of the web-processing industry with innovative system solutions will remain our paramount objective in the future,” says Westphal. “We are committed to that – with a passion for perfection and our entire know-how.”

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