White Paper – Formulations and Physical Processing: Importance, Challenges and Strategies for Process Innovators

Executive Summary

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There is currently a lot of interest about high-value manufacturing in the advanced economies and in those economies that aspire to move up the value curve.  Consequently the interest in high added value formulated products is also significant.

These functional products produced through physical processing are a very significant proportion of global manufactured output worth £1000bns pa worldwide (RSC, 2009).  Formulated products come in many physical forms: tablets, granules, solutions, dispersions, emulsions, creams, gels and often have complex microstructures, for example polymer networks, emulsions, colloids, crystal networks and agglomerates to name a few.

“Physical Processes” experience many and varied problems in design and operation compared with the processing of “simple” liquids and gasses. Past works offer an important foundation for current efforts to tackle the issues, challenges and opportunities to improve the success rate of process innovation in the industry.

To respond to these challenges and remain competitive requires that many technological subjects come together in an interdisciplinary effort. Gary Pisano suggests that “superior process development capabilities, if developed and managed properly, could be a hidden advantage for companies competing on the basis of product innovation.”

We examine and expand previous studies by Merrow on the challenges of scaling up physical processes. One key idea is that the plant startup rate is somewhat predictable and based on the number of new process steps, the nature of the feedstock and the quality of the heat and mass balance.

We caution against outsourcing responsibility for your process development and relying on only using equipment vendors. Numerous studies have shown that using specialists with process technology knowledge early in the process development can head off problems after start up.

It is critical to consider the scale-up strategy following, for example, the guidance in our Process Scale-up strategy model and advocate novel processes must be demonstrated to make them investable propositions. The evidence base is overwhelming in that choosing to build a pilot plant greatly improves the outcome of novel process innovation at scale when following good practice process development techniques, like technology auditing and technology risk assessment.

We suggest a word model to guide the scale up decision based on process novelty and process material properties.

Process Strategy Decision-Making













Call to Action

We hope you found this summary valuable and a full report is available on request.  Founder of System growth Consulting, Rob Munro has spent 25 years in blue-chip multinational chemical companies helping develop, run and commercialise formulations-based businesses and is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

We work with high-value manufacturing businesses to build enduring innovation capability through coaching, consultancy and training.

Our clients run businesses that operate within or serve the process industries and we are accredited coaches in the Growth Accelerator service and Manufacturing Advisory Service.

  • New Product & Process Development – Manufacturing processes that transform competitive advantage.
  • High Performance Innovation – Building an innovation system that delivers.
  • Growth EngineTM – Identify and implement strategies for financial growth.
  • Project Selection – Ensure the right projects are created, selected and managed.
  • Project Management – Innovation project management for successful delivery.
  • Technology Risk Assessment & Audit – Manage project technical risks and outcomes.

Please visit www.systemgrowthconsulting.com

And then contact us for a no risk discussion. If we can help, we will.



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