A FORMULATOR screen shot.
is a new generation of lab-book formulation software for adhesive chemists. The
product includes tools to more efficiently develop formulations that meet
technical and cost targets, provide performance calculations as developed by
the end user, and track and meet regulatory and QC test requirements.
FORMULATOR provides a secure, audited and economical collaborative-development
system to configure, implement, and expand formulations. It also supports
technical field service configurations, multi-laboratory data exchange, toll
manufacturer data exchange and multi-lingual regulatory output.
Many laboratories develop and manage custom spreadsheets for
tasks such as formula development, costing, small production operations, and
inventory tracking. Spreadsheets provide the end user with valuable calculation
tools that fill short-term needs but, over time, present numerous issues, including
- Poor to nonexistent security.
- Extremely difficult auditing.
- Changes are not logged.
- Crash recovery is only as good as the most recent backup.
- Difficulties searching for specific formulas or raw materials meeting
- Analysis is fixed; changes require re-programming the
- No intermediate formula analysis is available without extensive
- Cost updates are problematic, and are often difficult to apply at the
To provide the basic functions required in a laboratory
development or piloting environment, an application like FORMULATOR is
required. FORMULATOR provides user management, auditing, search, analysis and a
range of support, including the following features.
- Security is set at user, group or module levels. Formulas can be
divided into groups, and users can be restricted to no access or read-only
access to these groups.
- Auditing is automatic, and revisions are user/date/time
- Data logging is electronic Lab-Book CFR 11 compliant.
- SQL Server/MySQL versions provide up-to-the-minute crash
- Raw materials and formulations can be searched for using a variety of
conditions, with spot “where used” and full search-and-replace
- Analysis tools are flexible and defined by user.
- Multi-level intermediate analysis is standard.
- Cost updates can be integrated off the shelf from ERP or accounting
data, and then propagated to any number of levels in the database.
In addition to solving the most pressing spreadsheet issues, FORMULATOR also
provides the following.
- Certificates of analysis.
- Electronic signature capture.
- Formula dilution/calculation adjustment and targeting.
- Test, QC, pilot, production batch, and related QC and adjustment
- Project and time management, tying together all sampling, development,
- Properties, data elements and calculations are configurable by the
Research and Development Data
The first step in creating an Electronic Lab Book is to
decide which database manager to use. In the past, spreadsheets were extended
from and often tied to databases such as dBase or FoxPro. These older databases
had their own security and scalability issues. Modern relational
database-management systems are designed to work efficiently on most Microsoft
Windows and Open Source servers (such as Linux), and are constantly evolving.
When creating FORMULATOR, the ability to work with most leading-edge databases
was a primary requirement. A common data interface now supports Microsoft
Access, MSSQL Server, Sun Microsystems’ MySQL and Oracle, independent of the
specific database-management system. The information and user functions
onscreen are the same regardless of the database chosen.
The extensible software-design approach provides a series of tools and
utilities that allow for user-created criteria for data and mathematical
functions. Rather than hard-coding the functions, the program allows the user
to create their own units of measure (weight and volume), physical properties,
equations, quality control functions, tests and testing criteria, hazardous
materials criteria by CAS and EINECS number, repeated phrases, repeated
manufacturing instructions, cost criteria, auto-numbering schema, inventory
status, and conversions, and allows the user to add additional raw materials,
formula, and hazardous-materials fields.
FORMULATOR relies on user-created raw materials, which are used within
formulas. Formulas can then be used as raw materials within other formulas. The
amount of any one raw material can be expanded and consolidated from the full
formula for equation and regulatory purposes. Quality-control test requirements
are tied to each formula singularly or as a series of tests. Regulatory
criteria can be identified first by raw material then by formula.
Once a formula is ready, a test batch can be created with the amounts for each
material, instructions and the QC tests to be run and recorded by formula by
test batch. Users can add notes in most of the critical areas of the program.
Most note areas provide basic formatting and font selection. Cut and paste from
other documents is supported.
Using the Software
logical layout and progression is important to the functionality of complex
software. Even more helpful are linkages between modules and setup and
configuration, with the availability of context-sensitive Help windows.
FORMULATOR provides highly complex functions in a clear and straightforward
fashion. Links between functions and setup screens make it easy to add and
modify fields and functions. The program also allows the user to view and work
with multiple compares - of various formulas, of the equation results for a
series of formulas, and to look back on every change in a formula since it was
Program and Data Security
Spreadsheets have little security. A database-management
system, however, provides security as well as scalability, backup and recovery,
and auditing. Security on each table can be set by user or group, and can range
from “Full Access” to “Read Only” to “No Access.”
FORMULATOR also provides application-level security. Regardless of the database
security levels, the software provides each user or group of users a set of
security privileges for each module in the system, from “Administrator” to
“Supervisor” to “Add/Update/Delete” to “Read Only” and “No Access.”
Each user or user group can also be prevented from viewing any cost data within
the system. For many companies, the cost of materials and formulas is
privileged information. FORMULATOR’s application security can set up certain
users with no access to any cost information.
Security can also be set up by type of formula. This is desirable for companies
with separate research groups and plant-support chemists. It allows research to
use a common materials database, yet keep future development limited to those
authorized to be working on them.
FORMULATOR also supports electronic signature capture for accounts requiring
sign-off at critical points in the formulation, QC, or batching process.
Software like FORMULATOR that runs on a modern database
platform can outperform spreadsheets in reliability of use, speed of
formulation, collaborative development, security of technology and transfer to
production. Cost analysis using database information ensures that quotations
cover not only the current raw-material and container cost, but labor and
overhead as well. The information gathered in a well-managed database will also
ensure valid input for regulatory worker safety MSDS and hazardous label
For more information, phone (908) 735-2248 or