Property Mapping - it's good to have a (quality) critical friend

The IChemE's ChemEngDay 2018 annual conference on 27th March 2018 included a presentation by Britest Senior Innovation Specialist Martin Edwards outlining a recent expansion in the capability of the Britest toolkit which is helping process chemists and engineers understand how the properties and performance of the products they are making are influenced by the materials and equipment they are using, and by the processing conditions.

Entitled "Property Mapping: whole process critical quality influencing pathways visualised - What do I need to get right to make the product right?" the presentation describes how the property Mapping methodology allows users to construct a map-like tree diagram showing the links between each product attribute and all relevant material, equipment and process variables.

For multi-step processes, the properties of key intermediates are considered, along with starting materials, and the strength and response behaviour of relationships are also represented. Often it is of interest to map several product properties to a common set of influencing factors.

Interactivity key to overcoming complexity

Clearly such multi-factorial maps can quickly become very complex, so interactivity is key to making them useful. Using suitable software, Britest Property Maps allows selected information and critical pathways to be drawn out and highlighted from the overall complexity.

Highlighting a quality critical pathway

Seeing the wood for the trees - highlighting a quality critical pathway in a Property Map for tablet granulation 

Property Mapping holds great promise to drive better process design and improvement in many areas. In the case of pharmaceutical manufacturing, the ability to keep Critical Quality Attributes (CQAs) within required ranges by controlling Material Attributes and Process Parameters is at the heart of the Quality by Design initiative. Similar concepts are however, relevant to chemical manufacture more generally. Property Maps can for instance help focus effort in a troubleshooting activity, by pointing to likely causes of product failure. They can be used in technical risk assessment, looking at likely effects of changes to raw material properties or process conditions. In process control, they can help visualise which process parameters need to be controlled to keep product attributes within the required ranges. The analysis can also help to identify which factors need to be included in a numerical model, and the maps used to display the model outputs.

if you think Property Mapping might be the quality-critical friend you've been looking to improve your understanding of how your process as an interdependent system, contact Martin Edwards or Mark Talford to find out more.