HEBRON, KY. (Oct. 19, 4:15 p.m. ET) — Upticks in the cosmetics and personal-care industries are prompting Mauer USA to expand its North American caps and closures plant's footprint by a third.
“Expansion is imminent. We are in discussions to add up to 20,000 square feet in 2012,” Jim Rivard, vice president of operations, said during an Oct. 7 tour of the company's Hebron plant.
The proposed addition, the first since Mauer opened the 40,000-square-foot facility in 2007, would add more manufacturing and warehouse capacity for the injection molder, the U.S. subsidiary of Karlsruhe, Germany-based Kutterer Mauer AG.
Mauer operates 19 KraussMaffei CX-series all-hydraulic, twin-platen injection molding machines equipped with high-pressure air-feed systems, robotic unloaders and self-contained packaging units.
Mauer's presses range from 50-350 tons of clamping force and several molds have been fitted with rotating cores to enable two-shot capability.
Two of the CX-350 units were delivered in early October by KraussMaffei Corp. — the Florence, Ky.-based division of Germany's KraussMaffei AG — and each machine will be outfitted with a 16-cavity mold for making shampoo and conditioner bottle closures. (Watch a brief video of a 16-cavity mold in action.)
Mauer molds polypropylene flip-top and snap-on caps in sizes from 20-50 millimeters and some secondary polyethylene components using a palette of more than 140 colors. In addition to virgin resin, the plant processes some regrind material.
To give an idea of the volume on the production floor, a single injection machine molds about 500,000 caps daily for toothpaste tubes, Rivard said.
To fill its orders, Mauer employs 23 in molding, warehouse and assembly operations and has been running around-the-clock seven days a week since March 2010. While all of Mauer's tooling comes from Germany, the company operates an on-site maintenance shop.
The assembly room currently supplies a customer with tube-end dispensing assemblies for topical ointments. “The [dispensers] are big in Europe, but they're just starting to get established in the U.S.,” Rivard said.
Mauer's plant uses 5 acres of a 14-acre lot in a quasi-rural setting, and the proposed expansion would result in a central warehouse with comparably sized manufacturing areas on either side, Rivard said.
The addition would be similar to the existing European-style building, with drop ceilings hiding overhead electrical, water, air and material supply conduits (as well as keeping contamination to a minimum) in the factory, and plenty of natural and efficient fluorescent lighting would be included in the design, he said. A newly installed, 5-ton, overhead-track crane will be duplicated in the new building to enable equipment change-outs.
Mauer USA is constantly working with customers and suppliers to innovate, especially in the area of lightweighting, Rivard said. One customer recently asked for a 50mm flip-top that was 30 percent lighter than anything else Mauer makes in that size.
“We're pushing the limits and moving the mark, as far as what is possible for the thin-walled closure, especially for the 50mm closure, which is the bread and butter of the tube industry,” he said.
The privately held parent company was formed in 2008 when Mauer AG of Ubstadt-Weiher, Germany, merged with closures maker Kutterer Kunststofftechnik of Karlsruhe to form Kutterer Mauer AG.
Kutterer Mauer operates plants in Karlsruhe, Ubstadt-Weiher and Drei Gleichen, Germany; a facility in Trzebiel, Poland; and the factory in Kentucky.
While the parent company does not disclose sales, its customers include such global brand owners as F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., L´Oréal Group, Nestlé SA, Procter & Gamble and Sara Lee Corp.