Top 7 Reasons to Invest in Trials and Pilot Runs With a Toll Processor

Justin Klinger, Mar 3, 2022 10:25:00 AM

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Manufacturers often need to perform project trials, pilot runs, and preliminary studies in the process of commercializing new products, improving existing ones, troubleshooting and documenting processes, and more.

Many brands perform trials and pilot projects in-house, utilizing internal research and development teams. Since protecting trade secrets and other confidential company information is often key to product success, it can make sense to keep development work within your own four walls.

But working closely with a trusted toll processing partner can offer opportunities to achieve your pilot project goals with less risk while potentially reducing costs, improving data collection, and even shortening timelines.

And when you establish a relationship with a toll processor, protecting your confidentiality, intellectual property, and product formulations is a matter of trust. Plus, an experienced custom toll manufacturer knows exactly what it takes to replicate processes, meet specifications, and provide the quality assurance documentation your company needs to validate R&D and product development projects.

Whether your internal teams are already fully engaged, you’re facing personnel challenges, or a trial requires equipment beyond your current capabilities, here are seven great reasons to tap into the expertise of your trusted toll processing partner’s material scientists, engineers, and equipment operators.

Why Perform Pilot Projects with Your Custom Processing Team?

Pilot runs and trials can help you gather vital data to inform decision-making about whether a material can be commercialized, how products can be improved, whether processes can be optimized, and even whether to make major capital investments on additional milling machines or other processing equipment.

When you entrust your tolling partner with investigating options for industrial blending and milling processes such as wet and dry grinding, jet milling, extraction, formulation, and other processes, you have plenty to gain.

1. Develop and commercialize new products with less risk

Access to a greater selection of industrial equipment means you can try new processes without the capital investment needed to add another milling capability. Maybe your current process involves dry grinding, and you want to investigate the potential benefits of a wet milling process to achieve a smaller particle size of a high-value active ingredient.

An experienced toll processor’s technical team has access to the equipment, but they also have extensive process knowledge. That means not only less risk in terms of the equipment investment, but also less risk to your high-value materials. Small-scale trials run by expert hands will make the most of your investment.

2. Gather actionable data on materials and processes

Your toll processor’s technical teams run trials and pilot runs all the time, so it’s not a deviation from regular operations for them. They have procedures in place for preparing, performing, and documenting outcomes following standard practices for data you can trust.

More and better data leads to more predictable outcomes when you scale up to production, better informed material specifications, and data-based decisions about equipment investments.

3. Document ideal processing conditions and procedures

Another important factor to consider is preparing for production-scale processing. A toll processor’s scientists and engineers do this on a daily basis. 

They establish and document processing conditions and standard operating procedures to assure reliable quality, meet regulatory requirements, and ensure predictable, repeatable, and consistent production on the processing line. This can be especially important for formulations that include challenging materials.

4. Try out new processes

Small tweaks can have big consequences in a product formulation. Factors like particle size and morphology can affect everything from product stability to efficacy to something as simple as color. For this reason alone, process experimentation can be a wise investment that can lead to product innovations.

It can also be worth exploring whether your material specifications can be met on different equipment, or using different settings for faster outcomes. These optimizations can lead to lower production costs, shorter timelines, and other efficiencies.

5. Investigate new materials

If you’re exploring lower-cost material substitutions, more sustainable alternatives to meet consumer preferences, or options to help your production survive in a tough supply chain environment, a tolling partner with pilot and trial capabilities can be a great way to gather the data fast.

6. Shorten R&D timelines

Research and development can be quite a long-term investment, so anything you can do to move closer to commercialization, the better. A toll processor can help you build out redundancy to replicate processes and control variables to gather more meaningful data, faster.

7. Optimize processes before scaling up

Technical teams can also closely replicate production-scale processes, to help you anticipate, understand, and overcome challenges that can arise as you scale up production.

Remember, a toll processor’s material scientists are experts at more than laboratory processes and data collection and analysis. They have years of experience with a wide range of materials and processes, and they work through scaling up to production levels on a regular basis.

They’re intimately familiar with more than just lab-scale machines. They regularly work with production equipment, troubleshooting with operators to ensure that even the most challenging materials meet customer specifications.

An Extension of Your Internal Team

Over time, as your relationship with your technical team deepens and grows, you’ll see them as an extension of your own internal R&D team. After all, a toll processor understands that long-term customer relationships are built on trust. So as their material scientists discover and document efficiencies, optimizations, and other ways to save time and money, they’ll share that knowledge with you. Over the long run, that adds up to cost-effective operations that help keep your business competitive and innovative.

Explore the many ways a toll processor can help your organization improve efficiency, quality, speed to market and more in a side-by-side comparison with in-house production. Get our free guide, Comparing the Benefits of Toll Processing and In-House Manufacturing. Click below to download your copy now.

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