Thinking inside the box Featured

9:56am EDT January 24, 2005
The company name, Ranpak, stands for random packaging, but this Concord Township company doesn't produce petroleum-based peanuts that make a static-cling mess, bubble wrap that is difficult to recycle or airbags that burst or deflate based on temperature and altitude fluctuations.

Ranpak's core product, PadPak, has recently been joined by another biodegradable, renewable and recyclable void-fill product: The FillPak converter, launched in January 2003 in the United States and Europe, turns kraft paper into a star-shaped tube, which is geometrically the most efficient way to fill an empty space in a cardboard box. Several 100-cubic-foot boxes of Ranpak fanfold paper can be queued in the machine stand, allowing a packer to focus on filling boxes and not on changeover time.

"It's been demonstrated that it's faster than any other competitive system, so throughput increases when you use it," says Ranpak CEO Dave Gabrielsen. "The cost per cubic foot of paper compared to other commodities is low, and as a result of all these petrochemical cost increases in the marketplace ... the polystyrene products and the polyethylene products have gone through the roof."

Another Ranpak packaging system, AccuFill, figures out how much packing material is needed to fill a void in the top of a box and then lets the FillPak converter know. AccuFill users often see material usage reductions of between 10 percent and 25 percent.

Gabrielsen says the packaging industry "has tended not to be terribly innovative," with "Styrofoam peanuts put in a box today by a person wearing blue jeans, much the same way they put them in the same box or a similar kind of box back in the 60s." He says his company has been able to create these innovative products by listening to its customers.

"Most of what we've done with -- first FillPak and then AccuFill after it -- have all come as a result of just watching what our customers do and watching some of the problems that they have with the products that they use," he says.

In addition to its corporate headquarters, Ranpak has manufacturing facilities in Nevada and The Netherlands and a sales office in Singapore.

HOW TO REACH: Ranpak Corp., (800) RAN-PAK7 or