Product Formulation

Designing the "Next Big Thing"

By |2013-07-03T10:59:21-05:00July 3, 2013||

Product FormulationA recent Accenture report on innovation presents some eye-opening statistics on the viewpoints of executives in large companies in the US, the UK, and France. The report indicates:

Innovation is important: 93% of executives surveyed say their companies depend on innovation for long-term success

Current innovation strategies aren’t working:Only 18% of executives believe their company derives a competitive advantage from its innovation strategy

The situation is getting worse: Executives are less satisfied with innovation performance today than they were in 2009

Imagine: these are huge organizations (revenues greater than US $100 million), with millions of dollars invested in lab equipment and pilot plants and the best and brightest scientists, but they are still struggling to come up with the “next big thing”. At ProSensus, we knew some companies like that.

They came to us because they heard through the grapevine that we could save them from the dreaded cycle of “guess and check”. They needed a totally new product in a few months, not a few years. They had been told by a colleague or acquaintance that Dr. John F. MacGregor, acclaimed chemical engineer and statistician, and his multi-disciplinary team at ProSensus would be able to make sense of all their spreadsheets, databases, and disparate DOE’s.

Our ProFormulate process has enabled these companies to formulate products like top-selling golf balls, polymeric materials for medical devices, high-performance coatings, and even muffins, to exacting criteria. The Accenture report confirms what we have been saying for several years: companies with a formal system for innovation get better ROI on their R&D and tend to be first-to-market with new products.

ProSensus helps companies take advantage of all accumulated knowledge to formulate products that leapfrog the competition. It sounds incredible, but it’s not incredibly difficult.

ProFormulate: A Five-Step Framework for Rapid Product Formulation

  1. Implement and maintain good databases. Many clients didn’t have good databases initially, so we stitched their data together into a well organized spreadsheet, including raw material properties, formulations, final product properties, and even process data.
  2. Build latent variable models. These models extract information about which raw materials, raw material properties, and processing conditions affect each of the final product properties.
  3. Design experiments to augment existing knowledge. ProSensus can design experiments that make use of the accumulated data and models – there’s no need to start over with each project. And in addition, latent variable DOE’s are much more efficient than traditional DOE’s, so our clients can be first-to-market.
  4. Update models with DOE data. The addition of DOE data makes the models smarter and better able to predict which raw materials and process conditions affect which final properties.
  5. Formulate new products. ProSensus uses numerical optimization methods to “run the model backwards”. You define your desired product properties and constraints, and we tell you how to get there at lowest cost.

Whether you’re looking to develop a line extension, a reformulation or something entirely new, the ProFormulate process can work for you. Contact us today to discuss a pilot project with ProSensus.

About the Author: Emily Nichols

Emily Nichols
Emily Nichols, MASc
Project Leader
Emily was a project leader at ProSensus from 2011-2015. Emily holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Systems & Computing and a Master’s Degree in Applied Science from McMaster University. During her time at ProSensus, she was involved in many client projects using multivariate analysis to solve challenging problems.