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Case Studies

CASE STUDIES

Avomeen Analytical Services understands the importance of confidentiality in serving our clients’ needs. All of our projects are maintained in secure facilities, and all employees have signed non-disclosure agreements.

The following sample projects are presented in a modified format to protect the identity of the client and the specific details of their project:

Cosmetic Innovative Reformulation

A California cosmetic company turned to Avomeen to reformulate their product and make innovative changes.

Manufacturer Product Liability

A national fast food franchise lost millions due to defective gift bags which emitted an off-odor.

Degradation Analysis of an Oxycodone Tablet

A New Jersey based pharmaceutical company grew concerned regarding API degradation.

Extractables/Leachables Study for a Controlled Drug Solution in a PET Bottle

Avomeen provided customized extractables and leachables testing for a pharmaceutical company.

Healthcare Diagnostic Kit Reformulation

A healthcare product manufacturer desired to create their own line of diagnostic kits.

Investigative Analysis for Personal Injury Litigation

A lawyer with a complex personal injury case came to Avomeen to analyze items for unknown contaminants.

PRODUCT CONTAMINATION

Industry: Food and Beverage

Background

A regional food manufacturer was experiencing discoloration of its sealed consumer products weeks before the expiration date. As the contamination extended to a majority of their product line, the manufacturer was in need of immediate resolution. The company contacted Avomeen to investigate and identify the root cause of the discoloration in order to determine remediation methods.

Approach

Understanding the strict time constraints the food manufacturer was facing, Avomeen offered a weekend rush service. The products were delivered to the laboratory on Friday, and results were available to the client on the following Monday morning. Due to the unknown nature of the contaminant, Avomeen’s scientists devised a multi-disciplined approach to determining the contaminant. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) and Gas Chromatography (GC) analyses revealed that the off-color was not the result of a chemical contaminant. Avomeen then performed a full range of microbiological analyses.

Solution

Microbiological analyses confirmed the cause of the contamination to be coliform bacteria. Upon discussion of methodology and results with Avomeen’s scientists, the customer used our report and findings to develop and enforce stricter sanitation practices amongst their employees.

PRODUCT REFORMULATION

Industry: Manufacturing

Background

A distributor of specialty pens and writing instruments relied on one US-based manufacturer to produce the inks used in their products. When the distributor was informed that their manufacturer was moving production overseas, in order to avoid safety and potential quality issues, the distributor turned to Avomeen to identify the formula and production process for their preferred ink product.

Approach

Avomeen’s scientists implemented a multi-phase solution to provide the distributor with an improved ink product. Ink samples from the current US-based manufacturer as well as a competitive product were deformulated. The use of advanced analytical instrumentation and techniques including Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR), Gas Chromatography (GC), Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy (LC/MS), and Advanced Extractions led to the identification of the components in both ink samples, as well as the quantities of each component.

Avomeen’s formulation scientists then consulted with the distributor regarding performance criteria for the reformulated ink, and the distributor communicated a desire to improve upon the existing ink product. Discussions revealed that the distributor was interested in developing a product with a higher sheen and shortened drying time.

Solution

The results of the deformulation analyses provided Avomeen’s formulation scientists with valuable information regarding the preferred and competitive ink products. Taking into account the results of the deformulation analysis, as well as years of industry experience, expertise, and advanced knowledge of ink formulations, Avomeen developed an improved ink formulation which met the distributor’s improved performance criteria. Avomeen provided complete formula details, mixing procedures, and process information, and the specialty pen distributor was then able to gain total control over the manufacturing process.

PRODUCT INNOVATION

Industry: Household Products

Background

An entrepreneur approached Avomeen’s Product Development & Innovation team with a need to develop a new cleaning product.  He had researched a number of cleaners and acquired samples of the best products that were currently on the market.  He then sent the samples of these products to Avomeen, along with performance criteria for the innovative product.

Approach

Avomeen’s scientists implemented a multi-phase solution to provide the entrepreneur with an innovative cleaning product that met specific performance criteria and specifications. Our scientists utilized their deformulation expertise as well as advanced analytical instrumentation and techniques including Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR), Gas Chromatography (GC), Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy (LC/MS), and Advanced Extractions to identify the active and inactive ingredients within the marketed products. They then compiled a detailed report which consisted of academic research, industry experience and knowledge, and patent applications.

Solution

The detailed report provided vital information that was used by Avomeen’s formulation scientists during the product development process. Our scientists developed a number of trial formulations of the innovative cleaning solution for the entrepreneur to test and evaluate. Taking into account the entrepreneur’s comments, feedback, and specifications, the formula was refined and finalized. Avomeen provided the entrepreneur with complete formula details, mixing procedures, and process information, and assisted with transfer of the formulation to a contract blender who the entrepreneur had contracted to manufacture and distribute the product on his behalf.

FAILURE ANALYSIS LABORATORY

Industry: Manufacturing

Background

A producer of pressure measurement devices that measured less than 1 mm in size was experiencing microscopic contamination and, as a result, the devices were being returned by customers. The producer was concerned that they would lose market share due to these failed products, and sought out Avomeen to determine the root cause of the failure.

Approach

Avomeen’s scientists utilized advanced instrumentation and techniques to identify the contaminant, including Scanning Electron Microscope and Energy Dispersive X-Ray (SEM/EDS). SEM/EDS analyses provided high magnification pictures (100-1000x), in addition to elemental scans of the microscopic contaminant particles.

Solution

As a result of SEM/EDS analysis, Avomeen’s scientists concluded that the contamination was not the result of a structural defect, as particles were loosely on top of the product. The contaminant was found to be a byproduct of plastic degradation, the cause of which was traced back to the plastic tubing used during the manufacturing process. The manufacturer prevented contamination of additional devices by making modifications to the tubing used in their manufacturing process.

EXTRACTABLE & LEACHABLE TESTING

Industry: Packaging Manufacturer

Background

A manufacturer of consumer goods wanted to reduce costs by switching finished product packaging from glass jars to plastic bottles. The manufacturer had safety concerns about switching to plastic bottles, as plastics are known to leach chemicals such as additives. Three plastic bottle vendors were identified by the manufacturer who then contracted Avomeen to identify which of the three plastic bottles was the safest and leached the least amount of chemicals into the finished product.

Approach

Avomeen’s scientists performed extractable and leachable studies (E&L studies), exposing the plastic bottle to temperatures and simulants to replicate real life conditions. Advanced analytical techniques and instrumentation including Gas Chromatography (GC), Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy (LC/MS) were used to identify and quantify leachants in each of the three bottles at the parts per million level.

Solution

The E&L study performed by Avomeen identified the supplier with the safest plastic packaging. The manufacturer was confident in the choice of supplier and bottle when they transitioned from glass to plastic packaging, and were able to reduce costs while maintaining their safety standards.

SCIENTIFIC LITIGATION SUPPORT SERVICES

Industry: Consumer Products

Background

A fast food restaurant was involved in a legal dispute with three suppliers over a defective giveaway that resulted in the loss of millions of dollars. Thousands of gift bags containing a plastic children’s toy and candy were defective and emitted a strong chemical odor when opened. The legal battle involved the fast food franchise, manufacturer of the plastic toy, the plastic bag vendor, and the supplier of the candy. The fast food franchise relied on Avomeen’s scientists to determine which party was liable for their loss.

Approach

Avomeen’s scientists built specialized equipment that collected the odorous chemical using a charcoal absorbent. The chemicals were then desorbed and analyzed by advanced, ultra-sensitive Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) instrumentation.

Solution

The chemicals were identified as residual monomers in the manufacturing of the plastic toy. The fast food franchise relied on the analytical testing, data, and results Avomeen provided to seek damages from the toy manufacturer and recoup their losses from the defective product.

PRODUCT FAILURE

Industry: Food and Beverage

Background

A distributor returned a shipment of bottles to a beverage bottle manufacturer due to a slimy, unknown material on the bottles. The manufacturer looked to Avomeen to identify the nature of the material coating the bottles in question.

Approach

Avomeen’s scientists carefully separated the slimy material from the affected bottles and analyzed samples by Raman Spectroscopy. Research and industry experience indicated that the deposit may be residual cleaner, and the spectrum of the unknown material was compared with thousands of spectra of detergents and cleaners.

Solution

The spectra of the slimy material produced by Raman Spectroscopy was a perfect match for a commercial cleaning agent. The bottle manufacturer traced the root cause to a failed cleaning system within the bottle filling plant, which the manufacturer was able to quickly resolve.

PRODUCT FAILURE – MANUFACTURING

Industry: Automotive Manufacturing

Background

An automobile manufacturer observed peeling and premature breakage an automobile bumper, which was comprised of a blend of polymers. The manufacturer engaged Avomeen to determine the mode of failure and root cause of peeling and premature breakage.

Approach

Avomeen’s scientists utilized both spectroscopy and microscopy to determine the mode of failure. Examination of the peeling and separation of layers on the bumper with high-resolution microscopy indicated adhesion failure at the point of separation.  Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) analysis revealed that a polymer compatibilizer had not been added to the polymer blend in the failed product, which must be present in order for the polymers to fully blend.

Solution

Avomeen’s formulation scientists modified the polymer blend that was used to manufacture the automobile bumper, adding a compatibilizer to the formula. The addition of the compatibilizer solved the breakage and peeling problem the manufacturer had been experiencing.

UNKNOWN MATERIAL ID

Industry: Pharmaceutical

Background

A manufacturer of over-the-counter (OTC) products was forced to shut down their production line after finding black specks in one of their products. The manufacturer was confident that the contamination was contained to the last lot produced as release testing was performed on each lot immediately after manufacturing. The unknown source and identity of the contaminant were the cause of concerns regarding the safety of the product, and the production line had to remain shut down until an in-depth investigation was conducted and the origin of the contamination determined.

Approach

Avomeen’s scientists utilized Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) equipped with a microscope to obtain spectra of the black particles present within the contaminated tablets. Analyses revealed that the contaminant was comprised of a polymer-based material, most likely from a rubber component used within the manufacturing line. As several types of rubber gaskets and connectors were used within the production line, our skilled scientists obtained samples of replacement parts from the manufacturing line and compared the chemical composition of the contaminant to the various rubber replacement parts used within the facility.

Solution

Avomeen’s investigative analyses helped the manufacturer to narrow down the number potential parts that could be the source of the defect. Armed with this knowledge, the manufacturer was able to more effectively and extensively examine their equipment, which led to the discovery of a damaged gasket. Further analyses confirmed that the black particles were of the same chemical composition as the damaged gasket that was found, verifying that this was indeed the source of the contamination.

The manufacturer replaced the damaged gasket and performed a thorough cleaning of their manufacturing lines and equipment. Production was resumed, and lot release testing confirmed that the product was now free of contaminants, much to the satisfaction of the manufacturer.

PRODUCT SAFETY – IMPORT HOLD ALERT

Industry: Consumer Products

Background

Authorities withheld a shipment of imported tattoo inks at the port of entry, citing a suspicion that a number of the artificial coloring agents in the inks were banned within the U.S. The distributor importing these inks believed that the product complied with the U.S. regulations that govern these products.

Approach

The distributor turned to Avomeen to analyze samples of the inks in question, requesting that Avomeen definitively determine whether the inks contain any banned coloring agents. Avomeen’s scientists analyzed the inks using Ultraviolet-visible (UV/Vis) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to determine the artificial coloring agents within the products.

Solution

One of Avomeen’s import hold experts reviewed the data and verified that none of the coloring agents within the inks were included in the directory of banned coloring compounds. Avomeen then worked with U.S. Customs Agents to have the distributor’s shipment released without any further interruptions, much to the distributor’s satisfaction.

MANUFACTURING PROBLEM SOLVING

Industry: Food and Beverage

Problem: Product Defect – Plastic film found floating in beer cans

Solution: As customers of a popular beer company opened up their drinks, they were surprised by the finding of an unknown thin film material floating in their beverage.  Concerned about protecting their brand’s reputation and ensuring the safety of their product, the company contacted Avomeen to analyze their beverage.

Our chemist’s goals in solving their product’s defect were to:

  • Identify the unknown material
  • Quickly develop a solution to prevent the foreign substance from contaminating their product
  • Ensure the safety of their product
  • Help them get their production line restarted

The polymer film was isolated and then analyzed by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR).  Our analysis determined that the unknown material was actually parts of an epoxy resin that was used to protect the aluminum can from oxidizing.  This material is commonly used as an interior coating on beverage cans, but due to an adhesion failure caused from an incomplete curing process, it was becoming dislodged during shipping.

Working with the manufacturer our scientists were able to help them properly adjust their cans curing process, which in turn solved the coatings adhesion failure and eliminated the film material from coming loose and floating in their beverage product.  We also helped them put proper quality control tests in place to prevent this type of product failure from happening in the future.

The client was very pleased that we were able to quickly solve their product defect and get their production line back on track.  The client also used the announcement of their new quality control procedures to help reassure their customers of their ongoing mission to develop a quality product.

FORMULATION DEVELOPMENT

Industry: Cosmetics

Background

An entrepreneur approached Avomeen’s product innovation scientists for assistance in developing an all-natural anti-aging treatment. The entrepreneur had detailed specific performance criteria for the finished product, and had also identified three different competitive products which had specific desirable qualities.

Approach

Avomeen’s deformulation scientists used advanced instrumentation and techniques, including Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) and Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy (LC/MS) to reverse engineer the competitive samples. The exact ingredients of the competitive products were identified and quantified during the deformulation analysis.

Solution

Avomeen’s formulation scientists used data generated from the deformulation analysis, in addition to the client’s performance specifications, to develop a new anti-aging product using all-natural ingredients of higher quality than any product currently on the market. Our scientists developed a number of trial formulations of the innovative anti-aging product for the entrepreneur to test and evaluate. Taking into account the entrepreneur’s comments, feedback, and specifications, the formula was refined and finalized. Avomeen provided the entrepreneur with complete formula details, mixing procedures, and process information, and assisted with transfer of the formulation to a contract blender who the entrepreneur had contracted to manufacture and distribute the product on their behalf.

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