Developing  21st Century Formulated Products & Manufacturing  Processes - Challenges & Opportunities
John Carroll

Technology Strategy Director
National Formulation Centre (CPI)

Formulation, the creation of multi-component, often multi-phase products, is an enabling capability creating value through intricate microstructures and powerful ingredient synergies. It underpins many sectors in our economy and high-value manufacturing industries globally.

The formulated products market in the UK is worth around £180 billion pa with a potential for companies in emerging overseas markets of around £1,000 billion pa.

The UK formulation industry is underpinned by a strong academic and industrial infrastructure involving particle design and colloid science, modelling and simulation, bespoke measurement and high-throughput automation.

In 2015  in recognition of the importance of this of this sector to the UK economy the UK government set up the National Formulation Centre within the High Value Manufacturing Catapult to connect and leverage UK expertise,  to ensure  the UK maintains leading edge capability in  the formulation sector.

This talk will describe the work of the centre and how it is addressing the challenges & opportunities to support formulated product development & manufacturing in the UK.




Automated Formulation and Data Management for New Product Innovation
Mark Baker
Automated Formulation & Characterisation Manger
Unilver Research & Development
Port Sunlight

 Unilever is a global FMCG business whose purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace. We work to create a better future every day, with brands and services that help people feel good, look good, and get more out of life.

A key enabler for the rapid innovation of new liquid products, such as Dove hair shampoos and Persil laundry liquids, is the use of Automation and Data management tools to create and screen new materials and formulations.

This talk will discuss a new robotic formulation system (Geoff) which seamlessly links Unilever’s bespoke Ingredient and Formulation Registry system ‘FLOW’ and its Experiment Management System ‘EMS’ into a single coherent workflow.

This robot was created with support from a Regional Growth Fund grant to develop a ‘High Throughput Formulation Centre’.



The Use of High Throughput Experimentation to Accelerate Decorative Coatings Research
Chris Lampard
HTE Technical and Team Leader
AkzoNobel Decorative Paints

The use of high throughput robotics combined with experimental design techniques has transformed the way coatings systems are formulated at AkzoNobel.

This talk will discuss the development of our approach to coatings research using robotics illustrated by real life case studies showing how we can deliver products to market faster with increased confidence that formulations are optimised.




Use of HTFS to determine agrochemical formulation robustness and manufacturability

Ian Tovey
Automation Team Leader
Formulation Development
Jealott's Hill
Lab automation is an ideal tool for the generation of large sets of samples and large datasets corresponding to them.

This work outlines an example where Syngenta has used high throughput formulation systems to qualify the robustness of an agrochemical formulation prior to first full-scale manufacture and sale.




The National High Throughput Formulation Laboratory
Mark Taylor
National Formulation Centre

CPI is further building its capability in High Throughput Experimentation (HTE) with the addition of state-of-the-art equipment at its National Formulation Centre laboratories in Sedgefield.

High throughput approaches provide a quick and convenient approach for screening of a wide range of formulation space.

The extensive CPI HTE offering enables end to end high throughput campaigns to be realised. Campaigns begin with an initial design of experiments, moving to safe handling and dispense of a wide range of materials, on and offline mixing, characterisation of liquid formulations, application to substrates, cure and monitoring of cure behaviour, testing of final material properties linking to key product attributes and finally data analytics and modelling to optimise the ideal formulation for a given application.

New additions to the centre’s existing high throughput equipment include a Chemspeed Formax and a Chemspeed Swing; automated formulation and platforms capable of dispensing, mixing and characterising liquid and powder formulations such as detergents, personal care products, inks, and paints and coatings, to name but a few. Thermostatically controlled formulation vessels allow a variety of process conditions to be explored simultaneously, whilst online characterisation techniques include an integrated rheometer and viscometer, NIR and particle sizing probes.

To analyse the turbidity of liquids and the stability of suspended particles over time, CPI has invested in a Turbiscan unit with the capability to analyse up to 54 samples at a time, detecting sedimentation and creaming processes. In addition to this, a LUMiSizerÒ for the study of accelerated sedimentation and will provide clients with a wealth of data on product performance. A 96 position auto-sampler has been added to the centre’s existing DSC instrumentation which further expands capability to study cure processes as part of high throughput workflows.

Equipment is currently in the process of being installed and commissioned at CPI’s facilities in NETPark, Sedgefield, and will be up and running for use in both private and publicly funded projects in the new year.

By investing in this equipment, CPI is making High Throughput capability available to UK companies of all sizes, enabling them to investigate a much broader range of formulation possibilities more rapidly and with much less waste in the development process. By utilising this equipment alongside CPI’s industrially relevant expertise companies can interrogate large datasets and quickly determine the optimum formulation for their product with less risk and less waste.

Director of CPI’s National Formulation Centre Graeme Cruickshank said: “Our strategy is to enable UK companies to learn small, fast and thoroughly. Investment into high throughput experimentation platforms such as these will help to generate large datasets about optimum formulations and pave the way to developing predictive models, in turn driving efficiency and productivity in the product development process.”




Design for Manufacture
Professor Peter Fryer
School of Chemical Engineering
Birmingham University

The talk will discuss challenges in formulated product manufacture, particularly in the development of new products.

Examples will be taken from the EPSRC CDT in Formulation Engineering, which has had funding since 2001, and works with leading formulation companies such as Rolls Royce, P+G, Johnson Matthey, Unilever, Pepsico and Mondelez. 




Design of Experiments for High Throughput Chemistry
James Cawse

High-throughput methods of chemical experimentation present a challenge to experimental planning. Experiments run in arrays of dozens to hundreds and more require rethinking of the classic methods of Design of Experiments. In fact, the fundamental assumptions of classical DOE are challenged, such as:
•    “Smooth” experimental space
•    “Sparse” set of factors and interactions
•    Reducible to “low” dimensionality

At GE Global research, twenty years of research had been done on a catalyst for diphenyl carbonate (a polycarbonate raw material) and its productivity was still 10-fold too low for commercial use. Using high throughput methods, that productivity gap was jumped in less than 18 months1. Other industrially significant high throughput studies involved Harley Davidson windshields2 and (at Dow Corning) LED phosphor encapsulants.

All of these were approached using a strategic program including:
•    Careful choice of the experimental space with keen scientific understanding.
•    Selection of factors and levels for a diverse view of the space.
•    Estimation of the complexity of the system and resources needed.
•    Understanding the sources and amount of variation and the amount of “difference that makes a difference”3.
•    Recognizing the “Procrustean Bed” of the physical array and available technology.

When these are understood, the actual experimental array can be planned using a combination of classical, optimal, and more modern statistical tools.

1. Spivack, Cawse, et. al. Combinatorial discovery of metal co-catalysts for the carbonylation of phenol, App. Cat. A, 254 (2003), 5-25.
2. Chisholm et. al., The development of combinatorial chemistry methods for coating development. I. Overview of the experimental factory, Prog. in Org. Coatings, 45(2002), 313-321.
3.  Bateson, G., Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Univ. Chicago Press, 2000, 459.




How to do HTE right
Jamie Marsay
Senior Manager

One size does not fit all, and HTE/automation/harmonisation is no exception. Engineering a bespoke system or procedure that will become an intrinsic and transformative part of an integral process to a company or industry is only possible with collaboration and clarity.  Labman has the experience to know what can and can’t be done, but it’s our clients that know the process and objectives.

There is naturally a chicken and egg scenario when it comes to the clear specification of requirements due to the unknowns on both sides of the project – the client conducting the process and the team designing the system. It’s easy for one to imagine how a new high throughput system can transform a process that is currently executed manually or by a legacy system; however, when the new system changes the way that the process is conducted, streamlines workflows, and perhaps subsequently introduces new possibilities to the process, a more organic and allied approach is required to get HTE right.

This talk will take the process of engineering a high throughput system back to the stage of the very inception of the idea. There are pitfalls to be avoided, myths to be busted and a great deal of experimentation involved in the successful engineering of a high throughput system that will meet and exceed the initial specification. There will also be discussion of the necessity of objectivity, aligning expectations and the possibilities that automation and high throughput engineering can have.