• Insights

Published on December 1, 2020 by Jenny Maat

Innovation and efficiency improvements lie at the heart of any product development strategy, especially in a world of fast changing consumer needs. The research behind new product development (NPD) must move ever faster, while the competition gets more sophisticated each year. Innovation is crucial to survive, yet in that arena most R&D operations share the same Achilles heel: repetitive trial-and-error lab testing. These resource-heavy processes consume huge amounts of time and budget. They can even fail to give scientists the full picture. 

While lab experimentation will always be part of the NPD process, repeated manual experimentation doesn’t help to keep up with evolving market demands. Trial-and-error is necessary, but it does slow things down – not helpful when competitive pressures are driving a fast go-to-market.

Digital technology provides the solution many companies are searching for. As R&D undergoes its own digital transformation, it makes sense to tap into a solution such as RheoCube. Digitization of the lab doesn’t end the traditional methods, but it does complement them. Simulation as a Service changes the game by optimizing performance and helping scientists to hit their research goals faster, and easier. 

The Need for Increased Productivity

Product development is center-stage in a company’s success, yet R&D productivity gains have become increasingly elusive. It’s a contradiction that has an impact on the bottom line and it’s noticeable in a few sectors. With the emergence of new software, pharmaceutical companies are becoming more precise in their R&D and can cut time to market. These are the kind of time and efficiency gains being sought by companies in every sector. 

Experimental scientists in companies that make food or personal care products benefit as end users of this technology. Empowered with online experimentation, they can quickly change chemical properties, create new particles or manipulate other variables. It all happens much faster than conducting multiple lab experiments, so pinpointing deviations is speedier and more systematic. Faster, deeper insights move product development along and over time a smarter, more cost efficient R&D cycle begins to develop. That’s where this software really starts to impact on the bottom line.

The Human Element

At the root of lab-based R&D inefficiencies is the fact that knowledge is often stored in a scientist’s head as they learn from each experiment. Some new learnings simply don’t get stored in a base of knowledge available to everyone. A shared, open library is needed and as with many other industries, the format for that will be digital. Gathering insights is another challenge. Ironically, an overabundance of information (as seen in the chemical industry) can hinder efficiency in R&D. The constant release of studies, and data has created a “fog” of information. This impacts on the outputs achievable, and slows the speed at which key insights can be found. Human error is another problem as information overload clashes with tight product launch deadlines. 

This is where digital solutions become beneficial. They support a base of clean, vital information by delivering new insights on the materials used to create products. Browser-based experimentation, possible with RheoCube, uses the laws of physics to simulate experimental systems. A scientist can create formulations, tweak parameters and manipulate variables – all in a browser. The ease of this means scientists can dive into scenarios that aren’t always possible with lab-based experiments.

Digital R&D helps to outline what scientists need, and when. This way they can focus on innovative breakthroughs and make more impact.

Staying Relevant

The term ‘digital transformation’ has become pervasive as every industry attempts to harness the potential of digital technologies. The dream for many is to move towards data-driven decision making and R&D is no different. Knee-deep into the fourth industrial revolution, digital is a way to stay relevant and keep up with customer needs. While R&D still appears to be stuck in traditional experimental design, steps are being taken to venture into digital.

Uniting Tradition and Innovation

Digital experimentation software is at the core of a new R&D ecosystem that’s increasingly digital. It’s set to free experimental scientists to work on more value added tasks. Big wins are possible in cost reduction and efficiency gains. And traditional methods don’t have to be shunned! The digitization of R&D is complementary to traditional scientific R&D methodologies. It cuts down on experimentation times, cost, and physical time in a physical lab.

Currently there is only one solution on the market that can highlight the most important aspects of experimental chemical research so researchers themselves aren’t bogged down with weeks of laboratory experiments. RheoCube offers a single solution on our current market that can help your scientists to make their R&D run more efficiently. Traditional methods are never going to be obsolete, but we can continue to learn and improve upon them. While innovative digital software won’t necessarily lead to the demise of the lab, they strengthen workflows and deliver deeper, complementary insights for those working in their white coat. 

About RheoCube

RheoCube is the first digital tool for experimental scientists. As the only solution of its kind, RheoCube is the future of digital R&D. This highly scalable solution lets scientists step into a virtual lab in the cloud. Use on-demand computing capacity, design materials, formulate and experiment in one go. Users can experiment with parameters and variables online, run multiple simultaneous experiments, collaborate virtually, and fine-tune the use of materials. The result is a faster, smarter R&D cycle. RheoCube was developed alongside scientists and industry, resulting in a tried, tested, and trusted product. Our tool grew up alongside the industry, and is ready for your team to start using.