For emerging start-ups in a capex-heavy industry such as manufacturing, achieving resilience and stability early has a direct link to the company’s future growth prospects. These challenges faced by manufacturing start-ups have been amplified by recent, industry-wide issues concerning supply-chain bottlenecks, economic uncertainty and worker shortages.
Yet, despite these pressures, Denmark-based paper bottle manufacturer Paboco, The Paper Bottle Company, has stood firm. The company has established a product-market fit and delivered consistently for its growing list of customers, supported by the company’s joint venture ownership.
Its growth has been aided by several tailwinds, including the increased (and likely to continue increasing) consumer interest in sustainable packaging. With the support of Rockwell Automation, Paboco has been able to navigate a challenging landscape in receiving components with shortages on the global market to meet this growing demand.
Bringing Innovation to Everyday Products
Paboco was founded in 2019 as a joint venture between pulp-and-paper manufacturer BillerudKorsnäs and plastic bottle manufacturing specialist ALPLA. The company has a single purpose: to pioneer the transformation to scalable manufacturing platform for paper bottles. It is embracing the trend of bio/paper-based products that is becoming more appealing to eco-conscious consumers as well as the mass market.
However, to take steps towards fulfilling its vision, there are some obstacles that needed to be tackled. Firstly, bringing a visionary yet technically challenging product to market required the adoption of new manufacturing technologies. This involved a series of considerations in areas such as research, process, and skills to ensure the technologies are deployed in a reliable and consistent way.
Secondly, Paboco needed to pay strict attention to its unit costs. Bottling is typically a low unit-cost industry, so being the first adopter of an emerging technology still required competitiveness in terms of price point. Thirdly, in operationalizing the new processes, it was important that production accounted for contingencies that differ from more conventional forms of bottling. For example, with the use raw paper materials there is an increased risk of damage, so provision had to be made to keep its supplies dry.
A further challenge came in the form of process automation. Paboco is the owner of the manufacturing technology and holds expertise in packaging innovation; however, the company realized that its path to growth could be limited without a strategy to find the most optimal setup to automatize the process efficiently. The company therefore established a partnership with a specialized machine manufacturer, and Rockwell Automation, to support the development of an automatized machine platform for its first production facility near Copenhagen.
While the companies are at different levels of maturity – Rockwell is more than 100 years old and has a footprint that extends across the globe; Paboco is an upcoming manufacturer on the global stage – the partnership has proved productive to date, owing in part to the different expertise and perspectives each partner brings.