Product Reformulations an Opportune Time to Adopt Rapid Methods
Reformulations have long helped companies adapt their products to meet the evolving needs of consumers. More recently there has been pressure on companies to revisit the preservatives used in personal care products, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enacted revisions to sunscreen/SPF ratings that sent a number of manufacturers back to the lab. Changes in raw material supply and pricing also play a role in reformulation. Whatever the impetus, one silver lining to the work of reformulation is the ability to speed up testing and reduce costs by also introducing a rapid microbial quality screening.
Since reformulation requires companies to re-validate their current product testing methods, it can be a perfect time to run parallel testing with a rapid method, like Celsis, during the validation process, said Christine Kreitzer, director of home and beauty for Celsis Rapid Detection. Qualitative, absence-presence assays are easier than other methods to validate, she explained. Plus, the ability to detect bacteria, yeast and mould in just 24 hours will free up significant working capital throughout the entire supply chain.
For manufacturers that still rely on traditional microbial testing, adopting a rapid micro screening will take days out of the production cycle, leading to a leaner and more responsive supply chain. Below, Celsis Rapid Detection outlines why there has never been a better time to adopt rapid micro quality testing.
Why Rapid Methods
The personal care industry is an ideal place for rapid screening. Manufacturing and packaging of home and beauty products are done under conditions today that produce quality goods--within-spec and safe for release--the vast majority of the time. Yet traditional microbial limits testing typically takes 3-7 days for results. That's a long time to wait when you have a quality manufacturing process in place. And while there is nothing to identify and nothing to count on the lab's agar plates, there is plenty of working capital being tied up.
The Economics of Rapid Methods
Rapid methods succeed best when their use helps a company reduce costs and create a competitive advantage. While an increase in daily lab testing costs are often associated with rapid testing, the operational and, hence, financial benefits far outweigh this additional expense. The typical return on invested capital exceeds $500,000 per plant in 5-year net present value (NPV), according to a financial model developed by an international management consulting firm for a global consumer product manufacturer.
The overall economic value of the rapid method is derived from three areas. First, there is an initial savings of working capital that is generated by cutting days from the production cycle. This allows companies to make significant reductions in inventory and safety stock, freeing up warehouse space and reducing the overall cost to manufacture. Second, the company now has a significant amount of working capital that has been released and can be more profitably reinvested in the business. The third key area is the faster notification of potential contamination. By detecting issues faster, the company can reduce the impact of contamination events when they do occur. In many cases, contamination savings alone will offset the increased cost of reagents.
Other benefits that are not factored into the financial model include: improved finances from a shorter cash cycle; reduced retail and distribution center out-of-stocks and the resulting reduction in lost sales; increased customer satisfaction and good will from faster order turnaround time; and brand protection from reducing the risk of contaminated product reaching consumers.
Making the Case for Rapid Methods During Reformulation
Product reformulation - and the necessary revalidation that accompanies it - should prompt companies to evaluate their product requirements from a holistic perspective. This approach looks at product success from the standpoint of consumer and regulatory acceptance as well as maximizing the contribution to overall profitability. Thus, companies currently using rapid methods to release products in 48 hours also can benefit by validating a newer reagent technology for 24-hour release.
Validation services are available from Celsis Rapid Detection as well as from contract labs globally. Taking the extra step to validate rapid screening technology concurrent with reformulation is a time saver that can reduce costs and have a significant, positive impact on a company's bottom line. Visit www.celsis.com/home-and-beauty to learn more.
Tags: Microbial Limit Testing, Total Counts, Yeasts & Moulds
Date Published: November 20, 2012
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