There’s an old saying in manufacturing: “There’s never time to do it right, but there’s always time to do it twice.” This phrase is almost always uttered after cutting a corner to hasten the development time on a project, resulting in a catastrophic failure during the production phase, while up against immovable delivery dates and unrelenting pressure. The lesson is familiar, having learned it countless times before; manufacturers and brands will throw limitless hours and dollars at production problems that could have been avoided with proper scale-up and a thoughtfully conducted pilot run.
Pilots, or small-scale pre-production runs, offer a myriad of benefits and should be considered an essential element of any robust product development process. Their primary purpose in the skincare industry is to prove the viability of a formula, a packaging concept, or a combination of both. The benefits include but are not limited to:
- Lowering the risk of production failure
- Determining and understanding process deviations and resulting quality impacts
- Setting realistic expectations, defining, and verifying expected results
- Identifying areas for improvement in batching, filling, or packaging.
- Identifying scale-up pitfalls and windfalls.
- Assessing the true performance of a formula or package
There are several decisions to be made while planning for a pilot. Chief among them is how long a pilot should run, and how many units will provide sufficient enough evidence to reach reliable conclusions. Success should be defined before a pilot is conducted. This is a collaborative effort between us, the manufacturer, and you, our customer. The pilot goals and scope are debated prior to the run, while outcomes and conclusions are shared upon its completion. If all goes to plan, then production can take place with confidence. Alternatively, adjustments can be made to formulas, methods, or machines and the process can begin anew.
The greatest risk to a successful pilot is viewing it as a vehicle to deliver a predetermined outcome. Yes, it’s nice when a pilot proves itself a formality, but it far better viewed as an opportunity to experiment and learn when the stakes are low, the cost in dollars and reputation are few, and there remains time to resolve any unexpected results. No, pilots are not inexpensive, but they are always less costly than “doing it twice."
Please talk to your Twincraft Salesperson, Formulator, Packaging Specialist, or Account Manager about our piloting process and the most beneficial Piloting Plan for your project.