Celsis helps CoValence cut critical testing to 24 hours.

Custom and private label contract manufacturer CoValence Laboratories navigates this complexity with ease, capitalizing on its ability to formulate, produce, fill and now test its high-end, cutting edge skincare products much faster than its competition.

With its OTC formulations built from scratch and based on specific requirements i.e. natural colors, no animal testing, active botanicals, parabens, phthalates, sulfates and gluten-free – CoValence Laboratories’ process involves the careful selection and combination of an almost endless supply of ingredients.

Their investment in the right equipment to continue their leadership as a most nimble contract manufacturer. “We have several pieces of equipment in R&D that help speed up launches,” said Melinda Wochner, Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President of Marketing at CoValence. “And we tell all our new customers that we use the Celsis rapid method to give them faster turnaround.”

But it wasn’t always that way. Traditional microbiological product testing takes about 5 days to confirm the absence of contamination. Add at least another day if, like CoValence once did, you send your product samples to an outside testing lab. That is six days of wait time and overhead added to the manufacturing cycle.

Industry Challenges

Increases in disposable income and new consumers in emerging markets are two of the factors leading to a growth in global demand for cosmetics over the next five years, according to IBISWorld’s 2013 “Global Cosmetics Manufacturing Market Research” report. Transparency Market Research estimates projected growth to reach USD $19.2 billion by the year 2015 in the global cosmetic and toiletries market, largely due to new distribution channels such as online retail.

Increasing regulatory requirements, extended delivery times, higher ingredient costs and quality pressures continue to create a must for companies to adopt more efficient product release testing.

Traditional microbial test methods requiring an average five-day wait time for results are no longer a sensible option today.

With a growing international presence, CoValence needed to reduce its product turnaround time to be competitive overseas. It recognized the value of faster product release to meet such increased global demand.

“We make products to order, so if a client needed a product quickly, we’d hurry and make it,” Vlcek explained. “Then we’d be on the phone to tell them that we could deliver it, but they couldn’t sell it yet. To lose an extra five-to-seven days in turnaround time while waiting for test results was a real pain.”

To combat this, the manufacturer considered bringing micro testing in house, but realized this would save only a day or two by not having to send samples to a contract testing lab. There had to be a better way.

“I looked at things in terms of the Theory of Constraints,” said Vlcek, referring to a management improvement method of finding simple solutions to complex problems. “It’s all about identifying the bottlenecks. In our case, we would make the product quickly, but then it would sit in our warehouse for six days,” he explained.

In the case of a contamination, it was even worse. “Everyone’s been there—when there’s an incident and you need to tell the customer that their product won’t be ready for another week. We could make it, but then we still had to hold it for testing again. I wanted to make it on a Wednesday and ship it on a Friday instead of having to hold it over the weekend and lose all that time,” he said.

Process Solution

CoValence decided to adopt a Celsis Rapid Detection system to save time without sacrificing quality and safety. Compared to outsourcing their micro testing with a contract lab, Celsis was able to save CoValence five days of hold time, providing the confirmation needed to release product in about 24 hours.

For those customers who needed their products faster to take advantage of a market opportunity or a slotting space that opened up, CoValence’s adoption of the Celsis Rapid Detection system was a welcome change.

Nonetheless, the manufacturer had a number of obstacles it knew it would face in bringing the system in house.

For example, to bring in the Celsis system, CoValence had to build a micro lab from the ground up. Fortunately, the small footprint of the Celsis instrument did not require much space. Once that was done, two additional staffers were hired for the lab. Neither had any experience with rapid methods, but the system was easy to learn and easy to operate.

A Celsis representative was on site for three days for installation, system qualification (IQ/OQ), and for staff training. The Celsis representative also worked with the lab staff to jump-start validation, a process that, for CoValence, took longer than expected due to the extreme number of customized formulations.

While products are often grouped for validation purposes, CoValence’s produce-on-demand manufacturing model meant it did not necessarily have “like” products available for validation testing at the same time.

“We have so much customized work that we constantly had to change formulations and each had to be validated,” said Vlcek. “I didn’t comprehend how much work would go into validation and the cost of running both side by side. Now that’s come way down and we’re seeing the benefit. There is a real-time savings.”


CoValence reduced the quarantine wait time on finished goods from six days to one day without sacrificing quality or safety. This allowed the manufacturer to ship faster to clients, enabling them to hit the market faster. This also enabled CoValence to invoice earlier. And, while before the Celsis implementation CoValence had a lot of product waiting in bays to pass micro testing, now the manufacturer uses less labor to keep up with leads times while continuing to advance its skincare products through innovation.

“Once CoValence started releasing product with Celsis, they realized the immediate benefit of freeing up warehouse space that was previously dedicated to quarantined inventory. Equally important, and as a great selling tool for them, they were delivering faster turnaround to their clients,” said Christine Kreitzer, Home and Beauty Industry Director, Celsis International Ltd.

In a competitive marketplace such as global cosmetics, process manufacturers will have to implement more efficient means to ensure timely and accurate production to meet growing market demands. Rapid product release systems such as Celsis Rapid Detection will continue to gain adherents as they provide greater product velocity through faster time-to-market release.

  • Reduces working capital requirements—Lowers the required amount of working capital by eliminating several days of manufacturing costs.
  • Decreases stock carrying costs—Helps reduce the amount of capital tied up in finished goods inventory and, therefore, shaves costs for carrying excess stock.
  • Saves warehouse space —Consider the amount of floor space required to store four days’ production of finished goods in quarantine. Faster product release also reduces the amount of space needed to store inventory and safety stock, since replenishment is faster.
  • Streamlines the supply chain—Drives finished goods to market faster, maximizing sale days and accelerating the revenue cycle.
  • Improves recovery from contamination events—Faster detection of contamination not only accelerates recovery time but also reduces the loss percentage.
  • Increases inventory turns – Shorter production cycles enable faster inventory turns for a leaner, more responsive operation.