Aug 8, 2019

Driving innovations through cutting-edge R&D

Innovative icon Persil

Persil innovations


Innovations are a major growth driver. They are the reason why Persil has developed into a leading brand since its invention in 1907. This year has seen four new members of the Persil family – most notably the new Persil DISCS with four powerful chambers. But what is behind these innovations? Which new technologies and formulations? In short: How does cutting-edge research & development turn into an innovative product?

Persil DISCS – state-of-the-art R&D technology in four chambers

Every innovation poses a challenge to research and development – this especially applied to the new Persil DISCS. Generally speaking, some of the key ingredients of a good detergent are not always optimally understood. One example: The enzyme cellulase, which helps to smooth the surface of the fabric and prevent fading, is not very compatible with another enzyme called protease. So, these two ingredients are kept separate from each other by the chamber system. It is only during the wash cycle that the ingredients combine and are immediately able to take effect. Another innovation is the special “bonding” effect between the individual chambers and water. The dosage of the water droplets must be so precise that the “seams” between the chambers remain closed during transport and storage, but quickly dissolve in the wash cycle along with the entire film. Each pre-measured disc combines powerful stain removal, long-lasting freshness, superior fabric care and deep cleaning. There are product variants for white as well as and color washes. This makes the job of doing the laundry even easier.

To stand still is to go backwards” – three questions for Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller-Kirschbaum, Head of Research and Development for Henkel’s Laundry & Home Care unit

112 years of Persil. Is it even possible to come up with anything new?

There’s no need to worry. As long as consumer desires exist, we will continue to develop innovations. As the consumer is placed at the heart of our business and – thanks in particular to digitalization – we are becoming ever closer to our target groups, we are constantly gaining new insights into lifestyle, consumer habits and consumer demands. Take new eating habits, for example: More and more people are buying ready meals. These contain certain consistency agents, also known as thickeners. These consistency agents make food stains stick extremely stubbornly to your laundry. This is where enzymes can help. To be able to remove these stains even more effectively, we have, for instance, specially adapted the enzyme mix for Persil to provide a deep clean.

How has research and development changed over the past few years?

Research has changed a lot, it has become very fast-paced, multidisciplinary and complex. Engineers, chemists and other roles such as marketing, sales, production and logistics work closely together from the outset. The range of requirements has grown, especially in terms of collaboration with innovation partners. Take the new Persil DISCS, for example. The machine needed to manufacture the discs cannot be bought anywhere in the world, so we had to develop a prototype in collaboration with a specialist machine manufacturer. And the packaging of detergents: Packaging has to be designed to be more robust in order to be able to withstand transport in terms of e-commerce without damage. And the changes in ingredients: Even more concentrated, and therefore more powerful.

So many Persil innovations already in the first half of the year – where do you start with all these new ideas?

In research, to stand still is to go backwards. We started a long while ago and we are already working on the next innovation and the one after that. You’ll be surprised.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller-Kirschbaum, Head of Research and Development for Henkel’s Laundry & Home Care unit

Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller-Kirschbaum, Head of Research and Development for Henkel’s Laundry & Home Care unit

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