FoldedPak Inc. is a leader in high-performance packaging material and solutions with ExpandOS, a patented packaging material.
Asmall shipping box containing ceramic mugs, incandescent light bulbs and a brick sounds like a recipe for disaster — or, at least, shattered products. But that’s how Denver-based FoldedPak Inc. demonstrates the functionality of its ExpandOS product, die-cut recycled paper shaped into sturdy triangles that expand to hold shipping products firmly in place.
Though they are pieces, the patented product is far more than a replacement for packing peanuts, FoldedPak CEO Jeff Boothman says.
“The first thought people have is that it’s a replacement for packing peanuts,” he says. “But the mind shift we have to get over is it can replace foam-in-place.
“It can replace bubble wrapping,” Boothman adds. “It does, very easily, almost every application. When you put it together in a box, it just locks in place. It connects together and forms this interlocking web.”
The growing packaging material and solutions company now helps a variety of sectors keep fragile, liquid and other products in-tact as they ship across the world.
FoldedPak’s ExpandOS has a strong hold among companies shipping electronics and components, companies performing e-commerce as well as those who ship ceramics – from toilets to high-tech ceramics for scientific applications to dishware.
Auto parts shippers are finding the product to be ideal for heavy pieces and even for auto-related liquids.
“It’s all across the board,” Boothman says.
A New Start
The company, which has 50 years in the packaging field, has been innovating aggressively since the early 2000s and the key product inventors had some experience with a product called E-Cubes, which are essentially molded pulp cubes. However, manufacturing them turned out to be difficult and cost-prohibitive.
Two prime inventors— William Oliver and Larry Goers— went back to the drawing board.
They started with the strongest shape in nature: the triangle.
“The design itself looks pretty simple but there’s so much thought that goes into it,” Boothman says. “The holes and ridges are strategic. Every piece and part has a function.
“The holes are to help with the interlocking and also to reduce weight,” Boothman continues. “Also, the ridges of each of the ExpandOS helps with the interlocking.”
Guides on top facilitate folding, which happens by machine
“There is so much functionality built into the design,” Boothman says. “They are way out-of-the-box thinkers.”
But the end product was still just an end product. The innovators at FoldedPak had to design a method to build a system where ExpandOS would perform on the operations side— at the shipping sites.
Now, ExpandOS is sent to clients as flat pieces of diecut paper.
Those are fed at the customer’s site into a machine at their point of use where it is expanded.
From there, a client can chose a setup: either a conveyer that fills a large hopper or a machine setup where the ExpandOS triangles fall right over a pack-out line.
“The advantage is it expands 25-to-1 at the point of use,” Boothman says. “It’s very freight-efficient.” The design concepts were completed around 2009 and perfected through 2011. Since then, the company has been working to show the broad spectrum of use— and the value— of the ExpandOS system. Outlets such as ProMat 2015 provide strong opportunities, Boothman says.
As an exhibitor, the company left with hundreds of leads.
“Our sales cycles have gotten considerably shorter as people learn about us and stop by the booth,” he says. “We also have a lot wider selection of solutions than we used to have.”
Innovation and Evolution
That inventive stretch continues for the company, which is developing another gamechanger, Boothman says.
“We have another system coming later this year and still are working on (intellectual property),” he says. “It will be a best-in-class solution for e-commerce.”
That follows with what has been happening at the company.
“If I look at the last couple of years, we have focused more on the integration of our solutions,” Boothman says. “It’s been a big push for the past 18 months — a huge innovation cycle for us.”
That stems, in part, from a crew who understands the pain points of operations and warehouse work. Boothman has a background in operations for companies like GE and BP Oil.
Miguel Baldwin a 20-year veteran of UPS, handles FoldedPak’s operations.
“We’re operations people who understand the pain of running a warehouse,” Boothman says. “We look at it from that perspective. We push ourselves to say, ‘How do we make people’s lives easier?’
“We know what it’s like to be on the front lines of operations,” Boothman adds.
Case-in-point are the awkward items that FoldedPak helps clients ship.
“We ship a lot of high-cube items, heavydense items in giant boxes that take a lot of material,” Boothman says. “Think toilet, television, heavy automotive parts.
“If you look at it operationally, we have a solution with a hopper, fed by several machines, where people can pack out a giant ? 6- or 7- cubic-foot ? box in less than a minute,” he adds. “And it’s not just throwing it in there – it works to protect whatever the product is.”
That customer focus is part of the company’s core values and will continue, Boothman adds.
“We are operations-focused and we’re always innovating,” he says. “We are always trying to respond to whatever the market wants.
“We know our customers’ problems are urgent and important until they’re resolved,” Boothman adds.