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Mary Kay unscrambles labor-intensive line

Besides speed, any equipment on the Body Care line must fit into Mary Kay's packaging philosophy, which places a premium on flexibility. That's understandable.

New product introductions and restaged offerings in different containers are carefully and regularly planned to keep some 475 independent beauty consultants worldwide supplied with beauty products they sell directly to consumers.

"Clearly the products this line fills make it the most versatile line at our manufacturing plant" says Stan Martin the plant's production engineer. "The main advantage of the line is its flexibility. Besides the different bottle shapes and sizes product viscosities range from foamy to liquid. Any equipment that we use on the line must be versatile enough to function within those parameters."

The Body Care line produces nearly 7.5 million bottles a year. The line runs seven days a week averaging about 20 hours/day producing six products in five different bottles:

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- Oblong-shaped bottles of glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate with a dispensing cap that are shrink-wrapped in polyvinyl chloride film. These white opaque bottles are used for 7-oz Body Care Cleansing Gel and Body Care Moisturizing Lotion as well as two Private Spa limited-edition promotional items.

- A reverse-tapered high-density polyethylene bottle used for 8-oz offerings of Exquisite Bath and Shower Gel and Exquisite Body Lotion. For these products a layer of 25% post-consumer recycled HDPE is sandwiched between two virgin layers. Designed for a more upscale market the Gel includes a dispensing plug with a three-piece stylized closure while Body Lotion comes with a dispensing pump. Both Exquisite offerings are later packed in a paperboard carton containing recycled material.

- A smaller reverse-tapered HDPE bottle with an esthetic high-gloss finish for Deep Cleanser Formula 3 sold in a 6.5-oz size. The bottle is packed in a paperboard carton.

- An HDPE apothecary-type opaque bottle holding 7.9 oz of Finishing Spray with a pump spray dispenser and overcap. A tamper-evident shrink band completes this package. This product was being packaged at the time of PW's recent visit.

Mary Kay relies on multiple suppliers for its predecorated bottles closures and cartons. This gives the company flexibility in terms of availability and pricing issues. Two primary bottle suppliers however are Owens-Illinois (Toledo OH) and Silgan Plastics (Chesterfield MO). Bottles are purchased through distributor Berlin Packaging (Chicago IL). For the oblong shapes bottle molders use Eastman Chemical's (Kingsport TN) Eastar(TM) PETG resin.

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