In 1972, the first Ranpak converter was built, setting the stage for decades of innovation backing up our commitment to reducing harmful plastic pollution on a global scale. That converter was the original machine in what would become the basis of our PadPak® cushioning converter line, which continues to serve in the field today providing high-quality cushioning across a broad range of packaging applications and product types.
Recently, the opportunity to revisit and upgrade PadPak® paper cushioning was spearheaded by our product development experts with the advancement of the PadPak® Auto-Coiler. We’ve interviewed Product Engineer Ted Siegel on what makes Auto-Coiler special, and the unique opportunity to improve on our classic converter line.
Q: Thanks for being here Ted. Can you please share a bit of background on your involvement with the Auto-Coiler project?
A: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I’ve been with Ranpak as a Product Engineer in the cushioning product family for almost three years now. I was responsible for the mechanical design improvement aspects of the project. Most importantly I was able to experience the full scope of the project, being a part of the first stages and now watching the success after our North American launch.
I handled the project management aspect for a core team that consisted of marketing, engineering, production, quality, and procurement. When considering what to improve, we pulled in as many opinions as we could. Some of the opinions we sourced came from packaging engineering, our field service managers, salespeople, and our global counterparts.
We also spent a considerable amount of time with our distributor partners and end-users. Our aim was to include as many next generation features in our design as possible. In fact, certain elements of the functionality on the software side of the machine are now at the top of the market in terms of what they’re able to do.
Q: What prompted Ranpak to develop the Auto-Coiler, and how does it meet customer needs?
A: Simply put, the Auto-Coiler adds to our legacy PadPak® line, which over the years has been continuously developed between our engineering and marketing teams in Europe and in the US.
This specific design creates an accessory to the PadPak® SR machine that enables the creation of paper coils. Our customers have found that a coiled pad is a valuable option to have for cushioning particularly heavy and higher-value items. In lieu of the Auto-Coiler, packers would have needed to create these coils manually from the straight pads created by one of our other PadPak® converters. The Auto-Coiler makes this into an easy and automated process, which saves on packaging time, and increasing throughput per shift. Also, it meets the need to have a sustainable extreme cushioning solution compared to environmentally harmful alternatives.
Q: What types of items is the Auto-Coiler designed to protect?
A: The Auto-Coiler is just like our original PadPak® converters in the fact that it is incredibly versatile. Because of the density controls for coil production as well as the ability to customize pad dimensions, it’s well suited to any application where extra cushioning is required in the box and can be fine-tuned to provide the correct amount of protection. Some industries that we support include home furnishings, industrial manufacturing, automotive, and medical. Auto-Coiler is able to create sustainable protection during shipment for items ranging from a piece of furniture, to a medical device, all the way up to heavy duty brakes or machine parts.
Q: How did the development of the Auto-Coiler provide an opportunity to re-engineer the technology?
A: The Auto-Coiler in one form or another has existed for several years. There’s history there, but this represents the next step in the evolution of the functionality. The genesis of the project started with the decision to in-source and use American manufacturing to create a product that could improve our customer response time. Once we knew that we would be in-sourcing and understood the scope of what that meant, it made sense for us to revisit the machine on a technical level as well. We had an opportunity to make design changes and reconsider what was already in existence.
Q: What innovations are you most proud of including in the Auto-Coiler release?
A: Our field service team collected data from machines that were currently in the field as well as the engineering history of the PadPak® line of machines, which allowed us to dig through what had been tried before and what could still be improved.
One of the biggest innovations that sets our current machine apart is the ability to separate pad production seamlessly from coils to straight pads for both cushioning and blocking and bracing. When a customer uses the converter, our user interface allows them to create recipes—sequences of pads and coils. Extremely complex pack designs are now produced with one touch of a button.
We also spent time trying to improve the look of the coil itself. From an aesthetic and unboxing perspective, our next generation of coils are symmetrical and even in diameter to create a uniformity of presentation that is visually appealing. While the protection is the same, the visual difference is big.
We worked specifically to make our user interface as easy to use as possible to save time and improve the productivity of the people who will be using our converters. We also added a touch screen remote control box to let people who are working in a warehouse setting have more flexibility in the position of the Auto-Coiler in the pack station and in how they use the machine.
Ultimately, our goal was to make the most innovative, easy to use, and reliable technology that we could, and in that I am proud to say we have succeeded.
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