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Computer Aided Design for Formula-Based Industries


Computer Aided Design for Formula-Based Industries: Formulating Higher Value from R&D Investments outlines the business value achieved by Revlon, Shiseido / Zotos, Pfizer and other leading companies utilizing “CAD” software for formula-based product development, and provides guidance for similar manufacturers. While “CAD” is usually a term reserved for computer-aided design of physical / mechanical or electrical products, similar enablers are available for chemists, flavorists, and others involved in formulation.

Please enjoy the free Executive Summary below, or click the report title above to download the full PDF (free of charge, no registration required).

Note: Originally published in 2005

Table of Contents

  •  Executive Overview
  • Why Computer Aided Design?
  • Enabling the Chemist / Formulator
  • Manipulating Formulas
  • Documenting Findings – Digitizing the Lab Notebook
  • Having the Right Information at Hand
  • Enabling the R&D Team
  • Sharing Information
  • Managing the R&D Process
  • Product Lifecycle Management – Profit from Innovation
  • Collaborating Outside of R&D
  • Protecting (and Leveraging) Intellectual Property
  • Compliance
  • CAD or PLM for Formulators?
  • CAD and PLM for Formula-Based Industries
  • Summary
  • Recommendations
  • About the Author

Executive Overview

Software applications have drastically improved the productivity of design engineers in many industries, allowing them to achieve designs that were previously not possible with manual, paper-based processes. Today’s complex products were simply not within the reach of engineers prior to the advent of software tools that relieved them of the labor intensive, time-consuming activities required to develop and validate their designs.

Computer Aided Design (CAD) has played a large part in stretching the frontiers of modern products. When many people think of CAD they immediately think of Mechanical CAD (MCAD). Today’s advanced computer chips, however, could not have been realized without Electrical CAD (ECAD) software that enables chip designers to focus on innovative designs instead of manually trudging through hundreds of time-consuming steps. The essence of CAD is to provide a “digital design environment” in which engineers can rapidly develop, iterate and improve designs while reducing the manual effort that creates a barrier to product innovation. Without the advantages of CAD tools implemented over the last decade, the current market leaders in the automotive, aerospace and electronics industries would find themselves at a severe competitive disadvantage in today’s market.

If CAD tools have enabled such great achievements in mechanical and electrical design, why haven’t formulators been relieved of their design burdens? There is certainly a lot of low value effort involved in developing a formula. Formulating chemists should maintain detailed documentation of their design and discovery process in order to protect intellectual property. They must review and take into account detailed information about target product characteristics, raw material specifications, ingredient interactions, ingredient ratios, premixes, wet and dry weights, usage restrictions and formula cost. More importantly, the formulator must be able to quickly iterate their designs in order to manage the trade-offs among cost, product performance, formula stability and regulatory requirements. To support this process, chemists are often forced to piece together spreadsheets and other “homegrown” tools to help solve their problems. Without relieving the R&D formulator of the burden of manual or suboptimal processes, innovation will continue to be hampered, products will be released at a slower pace, and companies will fail to deliver fully optimized product designs. If R&D staff can be relieved of their design overhead, they can develop more iterations in a shorter time— resulting in faster development cycles and significantly more valuable products.

The parallel CAD tools for formula-based product development are beginning to gain broader acceptance. Tools for formula-based R&D have matured to a level that provides the equivalent value to what CAD provides in other disciplines, allowing the designer to innovate without consuming significant time performing burdensome “grunt work.” CAD, however, is not the only tool used in successful R&D environments. The value of CAD increases significantly when integrated with Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) applications. PLM extends product information and business processes beyond the individual designer, allowing them to both collaborate and to leverage product innovation for corporate profits. PLM tools can also provide an infrastructure for companies to seamlessly enable downstream processes that translate the designer’s ingenuity into profitable products. The success of CAD and PLM solutions in discrete industries such as Automotive and Electronics points towards significant value for formula-based industries, including Consumer Packaged Goods, Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals, Food & Beverage, Specialty Chemicals and Paints.

This paper outlines the results achieved by Revlon, Shiseido / Zotos, Pfizer and other leading companies that have utilized CAD software for formula-based product development, and provides guidance for similar manufacturers to achieve their R&D goals. Specifically, we review the success that these innovators have achieved, and highlight—via real life examples—the business value that CAD and PLM solutions can offer to formula-based industries across several key functions:

  • To the formulator, chemist or product developer, PLM-enabled CAD provides an automated, electronic lab notebook, a set of useful design tools, a tool to collaborate with others, and a powerful information-finding tool.
  • To R&D management, PLM-enabled CAD is a productivity enhancer, a window to view overall R&D activities, and a way to make business rules visible so formulators consider them early in the design process.
  • To corporate management, PLM-enabled CAD is a way to ensure compliance and better manage IP assets at the source of corporate value.

Based on these interviews and the benefits that these companies have achieved, we conclude that successfully implementing a CAD for Formulation strategy unlocks a tremendous amount of business value in an R&D organization—and provides a means for companies to more rapidly harness innovation for profits.


  1. I found the great report fit to my work but I cannot use the full version of this report I think the link for the report is broken. How to download it?

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