Member Spotlight: Norm Kukuk, Vice President Marketing, ORBIS Corporation, Member RPA Board of Directors

RPA Editor: Describe the products and services that your company offers

Kukuk: ORBIS provides reusable packaging products and services that move, store and handle product in the supply chain faster, safer and more cost-effectively. To streamline the implementation of packaging, ORBIS offers on-site and off-site implementation services. We also provide packaging management services to optimize the use of packaging throughout the supply chain – making sure that the right pallets and containers are in the right place at the right time to meet users’ supply chain needs. ORBIS has been in packaging and material handling for more than 160 years.

RPA Editor: Describe the areas of the supply chain where your services and products play a role

Kukuk: Plastic reusable packaging products are used to move, store and distribute product within a single operation or the entire supply chain. From raw material to finished goods, plastic reusable packaging safely and efficiently moves material/product along different points of the supply chain and ultimately to its destination. Reusable packaging products are ideal for multiple-trip applications in a closed-loop environment or within a well-managed supply chain. They can also be used effectively in a managed open-loop system when accompanied by reverse logistics to return empty containers or pallets for re-use or replenishment.

RPA Editor: Describe some of the challenges that impede companies from implementing reusable packaging

Kukuk: There are two. One is the level of effort needed for implementation. It is critical to engage employees and supply chain partners to develop a plan for a seamless integration. We often encourage pilot programs to test the effectiveness and get all parties involved. Although reusable packaging can touch every point in the supply chain, its implementation can be a natural part of the user’s supply chain evolution.

The second is the perception about the ability/process to get packaging back. Reusable packaging works well in tightly controlled, closed loops. But it also works in more open loops when all supply chain partners are educated and engaged. To be successful, it is important to 1) Get all stakeholders involved early in the process; 2) Conduct a full analysis of their systems; 3) Work with their suppliers to educate and help them comply and 4) Conduct a pilot/trial to test the packaging in their system.

RPA Editor: Describe some of the successes you or your customers have had with implementing reusable packaging.

Kukuk: Users have a variety of objectives when they consider reusable packaging, and they often discover additional benefits along the way. For example, many choose packaging to optimize truckloads to ship more product to meet their own production demands. In the meantime, they find other cost reduction opportunities. Typical successes we see include:
• Decreased product damage rates
• Improved workspace cleanliness
• Reduced employee injuries
• Improved ergonomics
• Optimized vertical and floor space in warehouses
• Reduced waste and the associated disposal costs
• Improved sanitation
• Easier visual inventory
• Reduced packaging cost due to eliminated expendable packaging costs
• More repeatable performance in automated systems. No downtime due to non-standardized packaging.
• Optimized unit loads (more totes per pallet, more pallets per truckload)

RPA Editor: What are the key changes you see happening in the reusable marketplace in the near future?

Kukuk: More collaboration among supply chain partners. For example, integrators, packaging providers and end users coming together to take a strategic approach to the entire supply chain to drive cost out, add efficiency and lessen their environmental impact. I also believe there will be an increased focus on reducing the environmental impact of the supply chain related to energy usage, solid waste generation and greenhouse gas emissions. Packaging can impact this in terms of transportation optimization, storage efficiencies, rightsizing packaging for the product being handled/shipped, and more.

RPA Editor: What is your role within the RPA and why did you chose to become a member of the leadership team?

Kukuk: I am currently on the RPA board of Directors. I am enthusiastic about educating the marketplace and delivering the powerful message of the value of reusables – their productivity improvements and sustainable impacts. It’s an honor to be a part of a passionate industry team that enjoys the chance to build momentum around this effort.

RPA Editor: What has your company gained from its membership in the RPA?

Kukuk: ORBIS Corporation utilizes the RPA for networking opportunities to assist in educating end-users and to share ORBIS’ in-depth experiences with reusable packaging conversions. ORBIS has been fortunate to be able to participate in many educational panels and speaking engagements sponsored by the RPA at industry tradeshow events. In addition, being part of an association team that explores future technologies and observes industries benefiting from reusables and how packaging can be utilized today and into the future, is an exciting opportunity for ORBIS.