I don’t get it, I really don’t get it. The flip chart says it all.

“Colloid science is just too complicated and impractical!”

No, that’s not true.

This view pervades the pharmaceutical industry and is one that I am determined to dispel – or at least try to. That’s my mission.

[Note, this article isn’t limited to colloid science. Replace it with the one important to you – I’m sure the message will hold up.]

Let’s get a few things out the way.

A colloid is a substance made up of microscopic objects contained in a bulk material such as a liquid. It’s not the exact definition but it’s close enough.

And what of colloids? Well, more substances exist as colloids in nature and in society than any other form.

The pharmaceutical, paint, lubrication, food, cosmetics, and agricultural industries make their money from selling colloids.

These are multi-billion dollar industries. Sustainable success depends on controlling the products. In other words, understanding the interaction of the microscopic objects with everything else they come into contact with throughout the product’s life.

This is the purpose of colloid science. It’s important.

Encouraging product development and manufacturing teams to adopt some fundamental concepts of colloid science can be like pulling teeth, only to have a set of jaws bear down on your well-intentioned fingers. I lived that – figuratively, of course – for 24 years in the pharmaceutical industry. My experiences taught me a handful of things to explain it.

  • Empire-building middle management who favor trial-and-error – and are averse to colloid science – are fearful of losing their prominence to others who can develop and control products with greater efficiency and lower costs of poor quality
  • Teams have had poor results trying to use colloid science in the past
  • Lack of awareness
  • Lack of engagement between product teams and colloid science specialists
  • Colloid science hasn’t been taught effectively – if at all
  • Opportunities aren’t provided to learn colloid science
  • Colloid science experts may have no practical experience of product development and manufacture, resulting in poor credibility
  • Lack of understanding of laboratory instrumentation designed for characterizing colloids, leading to poor decision making and perpetuating the belief that colloid science is of questionable value
  • The growing use of nanotechnology terminology replacing those of the underpinning sciences, leading to a disconnection between colloid science and nanodispersion technology

The result?

  • Repeated and sporadic rounds of firefighting
  • Trial-and-error investigations
  • Unpredictable delays
  • Unnecessary expenditure
  • All leading to billions upon billions of dollars wasted annually.

Successful application of colloid science thrives in an environment opposite to the dysfunctional – and all too common – one laid out above.

  • Senior leadership embraces the use of colloid science
  • Teams are empowered to make judicious use of colloid science
  • Staff are given time to learn the basics of colloid science
  • Learnings are shared across teams and departments
  • Colloid science experts have on-going practical experience of product development and manufacture
  • Staff understand the principles of operation of key analytical methods to ensure appropriate application and decision making
  • Colloid science and nanodispersion technology are seen as one

The result? An empowered organization that can…

  • Improve quality of your colloid or colloid-like products
  • Significantly reduce human resource, time and cost
  • Increase your bottom line

Colloid science isn’t unique. It’s just one of many scientific disciplines that fail to get the traction required in industry to help reduce cost of poor quality. Yet, nearly everything you encounter daily is a colloid, has colloidal properties, or required one or more colloids for its manufacture. There’s no financial explanation for not embracing the science. It’s because of organizational failure and thriving politics.

Think about it. Would you build a rocket to go to the moon without applying rocket science? I hope not.

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