Scaling up a recipe can create quality defects that are not visible on bench or pilot plant.
The cookies were beautiful and everyone was so excited about them. They ticked all the boxes. Plenty of chocolate pieces, lovely melt in the mouth texture, a balanced aroma of chocolate mixed in with vanilla and baked biscuit notes and a gorgeous colour that made them look fresh and inviting. They were not the ones in the photograph, but looked just as homemade. The only snag was that they had only been made on the bench and here was the team talking about what the launch event would be like !
If only the forming equipment in the factory were as gentle as the hands of the product developer… Machines want to run fast, squash and squeeze and push this lovely soft dough and all the inclusions in it. By the way, machines hate inclusions. In fact they can’t stand them.
You can see where this is going now, can’t you ? The minute we started testing the recipe on the full scale production line, at the correct batch size and at speeds that gave optimum performance for the equipment and delivered a throughput that made the product financially viable, a big part of the loveliness off the product started to disappeared. The shape and homemade appearance was altered, the chocolate pieces were smashed and brown streaks of smeared chocolate were making the golden colour of the cookie turn a dirty shade of brown. The only consolation was that it still tasted great.
Can we fix this? Yes we can! to paraphrase Bob the builder, but it needs work and the combined efforts of the manufacturing team, the process developer and the product developer. There are things that can be done with the mixing and forming equipment, ways to make the inclusions less susceptible to damage and manufacturing practices that can be put in place to control production better. The key point for a product developer is to make sure they scale up their recipe as soon as possible and to plan some trouble shooting time in the project’s time plan. It also pays to speak with their manufacturing colleagues and invite them to share their knowledge and experience early on in a project. One thing I’ve learned is that when faced with a challenge, the best course of action is to reach out to colleagues and get their input and help. A collaborative solution is always better than one you come up with on your own… unless your surname is Einstein !
#scaleup #innovation #productdevelopment