Expert's Opinion

Scale-Up Should Not Be An Afterthought!

By Thomas Bowe, CCA Industries | December 9, 2010

Tom Bowe provides insights on this critical part of product development.

No formula is successful until it is manufactured and distributed. No technology is innovative until it is available to consumers. Both require mass production, which requires monitored scale-up from the bench to production.

In the rush to market and the pressure to accomplish this on shorter development schedules, scale-up is often an afterthought.The ability to easily and predictably manufacture your finished product is a crucial step in any product development. It is also essential to formula ownership.
Often in the rush to project completion, insufficient attention is paid to exactly how the batch is going together. The most common difficulty in scale-ups is the conversion of mixing requirements from the bench to a larger kettle. The chemist on the bench will have a more favorable shear-to-volume ratio than will be encountered in production. This must be considered when mixing methods and times are being determined. Often a change from prop mixing to homogenization is required.

Also, order of ingredient additions can have a large impact in a production environment when it appeared to have no issues on the bench. Chemists must be mindful to the transitions in their batches as each ingredient is added. An extended mixing time on the bench to fully incorporate an addition will necessitate adjustments for larger batches as this type of mixing and time are not available. Often production issues are caused by improper procedure originating at the bench. Temperature and mixing requirements are as important to formula success as the ingredient itself.

The ultimate source of formula expertise is the development chemist. The person who observed the formula evolve on the bench should also be present during the scale-up process.This seems to be a common disconnect today as many chemists end their involvement when a formula is passed to a process engineer. Most evaluations during a batch procedure are visual. These should be made by the person most familiar with the formula as it transitions from separate phases to a finished product. The chemist should take an authoritative role during batching procedure to ensure proper blending is achieved as it was on the bench. Again, formula ownership includes proper production technique and final batch quality.

Ingredient suppliers have a similar responsibility when introducing new technologies. Elaborate procedures and difficult handling of any technology will prevent its broad application into multiple product forms. Partial neutralization, confusing pre-blends and/or high shear mixing at low temperatures are steps often presented as necessary for the inclusion of new technologies. These requirements dampen chemists’ interest in a new system and will lead to production issues and unsuccessful batches. Ingredients must be easy to handle and store. Batch addition should require little effort and incorporation should be quick. Remembering your intended end-user will improve acceptability and the chances for success.

About the Author
Thomas Bowe has over 30 years of formulating experience with various personal care companies including Avon and Estée Lauder. His main areas of expertise are focused on skin care and sun care product development. He received a BS in Biology from Ramapo College and an MA in Cosmetic Science from Farleigh Dickinson University.Technical seminars presented at personal care conventions around the world.He is currently in charge of research and development at CCA Industries.

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