Mixers and Agitators for Sunscreen On Sunny Side of Process Development

Author / Editor: Alexander Lukas* / M.A. Manja Wühr

Cost-minimized production of large-volume personal care products by means of specific process developments — Many present-day personal care products are currently sold as private label at supermarkets and discount stores. The customer requirement for low-pricing also includes the demand for a high quality product. Thus, the producers of such products — often contract manufacturers — require a cost reduction and at the same time a high product quality.

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Production unit for 10,000 liters
Production unit for 10,000 liters
(Picture: Ekato; © magdal3na, © Oleksandr Delyk - Fotolia_[M]_Kübert)

The production of private labels in personal care is often subject to recipe changes. This may be necessary due to seasonally manufactured products, special product campaigns or for marketing reasons. As a result, this approach often requires short-term adjustments of the processes to ensure optimal production in terms of quality and cost. But how to realize?

Process Development

A successful implementation of the processes developed in laboratory scale up to production scale requires — especially in such large scales — an accurate knowledge of the product to be produced.

The basic operational steps such as heating and cooling as well as an ideal use of the suitable equipment technology all form the basis for a successful production process. This requires an effective cooperation between the product developers on the customer side and the application engineers on the supplier side (units).

Example: Sun Screen Lotion

A cosmetics manufacturer in southern Europe had to expand its production capacity to produce sun screen lotions for a supermarket chain. The production scale should be 10,000 liters to exploit the remaining free space within the production building. A further process parameter was that the product must be manufactured without using preparation phase vessels. This was an imperative due to the business operation itself and lack of space.

Thus, the challenge was not only to update an existing process using new and modern equipment. But rather a "beaker glass process" from the laboratory in which the premixes were prepared by hand was to be converted to a "single pot process" and at the same time provide the design to realize production scale.

Process Development from Pilot Scale to Shopfloor

At first trials in a three liter scale were carried out in order to define the individual process steps. Based on the data from the smaller scale, further trials were performed in a 100 liter pilot scale unit. By means of the defined parameters resulting from the trials, a basis was defined to provide a successful scale-up. At this time the dosing and entrainment times for the components, the mixing times, the required time for homogenization, vacuum values as well as the required power input for the agitator and homogenizer were defined.