Factors to Consider When Formulating an Agricultural Chemical Product

Posted by CJB Applied Technologies on Sep 1, 2020 9:15:00 AM

Beaker for Chemical Formulation

Chemical formulation is complicated. 

You must understand how materials behave and interact with each other before you attempt to create a product for commercialization.

However, when you are equipped with extensive knowledge of product formulation, you will be better able to deliver results in a functional, stable, and usable form.

In this article, we’ll explain what a formulated product is as well as the multitude of factors you should consider during the development process.

 

What Is a Formulated Product?

A formulated product is composed of at least two ingredients that are selected, processed, and combined in a specific way to obtain well-defined target properties, functionality, and performance. 

In the formulation development process, the goal is to put ingredients together to create an end-use product that performs a certain function. In the end, the project needs to meet expectations and quality control standards.

Formulated products can exist in many forms: liquid, semisolid, solid, etc. They have a commercial value and are meant for use in industrial applications or direct consumer use.

 

What Factors Are Involved When Formulating a Product?

There is a lot of work that goes into formulating a product and many factors to consider during the development process. We broke down the components into three categories: materials, processing, and application.

Materials

1. Availability

The materials you use to formulate your product should be easily sourced. If the chemical ingredients are part of a global supply chain, you want to make sure the lead time is short and there’s an adequate supply of quality materials. 

2. Cost 

Your materials have to be affordable. The value of your ingredients and manufacturing must be less than the value of the target application. 

3. Compatibility

The materials must be compatible. They ought to be able to combine physically and chemically without causing any unintended consequences like an explosion or crystallization.

4. Registration Status 

Your materials have to be approved for use for the target application. There’s a list of chemicals and compounds that are authorized for EPA-registered and FDA-approved projects. You do not want any regulatory problems in the end formulation.

5. Freedom to Operate 

Lastly, you need to investigate whether there are patent concerns that would prevent the use or combination of your materials. You have to make sure you are not violating intellectual property by taking some time to conduct proper IP due diligence.

 

Processing

1. Technology Type 

During the formulation development process, you should consider what type of technology you want for the end-use product. For example, are you trying to create a dry or wet product, a suspension or solution, etc? Different methods lead to each technology type.  

2. Physical Characteristics 

Think about the physical characteristics you want the end-use product to have. Are you concerned about flowability, particle size, weight, or density? The needs of your formulation constituents will likely determine your target for those attributes.

3. Shelf Life Desired

Decide how long the shelf life of the end-use product needs to be. This may depend on the channels of trade the product is moved through and where it ends up. Does the product need to remain stable on a store shelf for a year to two years or more? 

4. Storage & Handling Characteristics

Consider the storage and handling requirements of the end-use product. The weight and size of the package—as well as whether the product is corrosive, flammable, or explosive—will determine how it needs to be handled and stored.

5. Packaging Needs 

You should take the packaging needs of the end-use product into consideration. Can the product go into all desired package sizes and still maintain stability? This factor also ties into the desired shelf life and how easy the product is to handle.

6. Constituents 

Contemplate whether the people who will be employing the end-use product will be able to improve its performance. What will they be able to do to enhance the product? Will they be able to adjust the application if their target changes?

7. Spray/Application

Think ahead about how the end-use product will perform in the equipment that disperses it. Will it mix easily in a spray tank? Will it flow through screens? Will it stay suspended? These characteristics must align with how the product gets manufactured.

8. Environmental Considerations

Review environmental considerations of the end-use product. Does it stay where it’s supposed to or blow away with the wind? Will it wash away when it rains? The materials that go into the formulation have to be eco-friendly and do as little damage as possible to the surroundings.

9. Registrability

Just like the original materials have to pass the test, so does the end-use product. Will it be able to be registered with the EPA or FDA? Does it meet the proper safety, performance, and environmental requirements? If not, the product may not be sold commercially.

10. All-in Cost 

The point of making the end-use product is to generate a profit. You should be in an overall cost position where you can compete, make money, and please the user. You need to formulate the product for less than its value while maintaining marketability.

11. Efficacy/Performance

Of course, you want the end-use product to perform as it should. Does it do what it was intended to do? Does it kill bugs, improve gas mileage, or speed up growth? The efficacy must be as good or better than expected at the start of the project.

12. Equipment Availability 

Finally, do you have the equipment needed to combine all of the materials and actually produce the end-use product? You should consider not only pilot batch capabilities, but also large-scale production. 

 

Application

1. Environmental Variability 

The application of the end-use product may have to adapt to certain variables and situations. How does the application work within its environment? Is water, temperature, or humidity a factor? Does the application need to withstand an inch of rain or five? 

2. Compatibility with Other Products

Compatibility is key when it comes to application. For example, farmers often combine chemicals that have different purposes into one tank before they go out and spray a field for optimal efficiency. If one product doesn’t get along with others, the applications may not work. 

3. Manufacturers, Handlers, and Applicators

In the end, you want to take every precaution possible to protect manufacturers, handlers, and applicators from anything that may be hazardous during application of the end-use product. Are you able to use safer chemicals in formulation that will lessen the possibility of exposure for these customers?

Scientist in Lab

Why Considering Factors of Product Formulation Is Important

Now you know what a formulated product does, as well as why it’s important to investigate numerous factors during the development process.

From materials to processing to application, you must explore every desired behavior and unwanted consequence that could arise from formulation. 

CJB Applied Technologies has decades of experience in formulation development. Our extensive knowledge will ensure your product lives up to its intended functionality and performance. 

We can’t wait to discuss your idea and get started on your project.

 

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