Insights into Henkel product development for laundry and home care products

11/2/2011, Düsseldorf / Germany


Insights into Henkel product development for laundry and home care products

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Around the world there are some 500 experts working on product development on behalf of Henkel’s Laundry & Home Care business sector, endeavoring to discover new substances and methods of fighting soil, dirt and stains. A look at the labs reveals how these researchers – working on something akin to a production line – replicate the everyday problems encountered by consumers around the globe in order to devise the most effective solutions capable of combating them.

Stain application machine
Each year the laundry detergent development people at Henkel produce over two million stains. There is a special stain application machine that applies consumer-relevant, everyday stains such as cocoa, make-up, lipstick and red wine to apparel swatches, rubbing the substances deep into the fabric with small sponges. The uniform, almost identical stains create ideal samples for comparative laundry tests. And for this latter stage of the process, the labs also have at their disposal an impressive “launderette” with 600 washing machines from right round the world.

Dish soiling robot
In order to test the cleaning power of new dishwashing products, the researchers create tough dirt and stains in their dishwashing laboratory – e.g. in the form of dried-on Bolognese sauce, milk or egg-yolk.  A soiling robot applies a precisely metered quantity of a special blend of potato, wheat, rice and corn starch to the test dishes. Like a juggler, the robotic arm darts back and forth between the dish rack, weighscale and starch storage container. With seven axes of movement, it is able to operate with the same kind of flexibility that a human arm has, all of which means an annual output of up to 300,000 stains.

Tea drinking simulator
Each year a tea drinking simulator fills 50,000 cups with freshly brewed black tea, and then, after a short dwell time, intermittently sucks the liquid out again. The standardized stains that remain are typical of the kind of ring structure that arises as people sip such hot beverages. This enables Henkel’s researchers to test the bleaching power of new dishwashing products so as to achieve an optimum level of performance. And to this end, there are 60 automatic dishwashing machines operating in the Global Product Development department in Düsseldorf.

Henkel AG & Co. KGaA

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