Companies which manufacture products typically need development scientists who understand and control the processes used to make the final product. Development scientists work across the manufacturing industry, on products as diverse as foods, medicines, cosmetics and paints.
Process development scientists aim to optimise the performance of manufacturing systems. They are responsible for identifying and developing new processes for product manufacture, as well as putting in place process controls to make sure the products are of a high quality and are manufactured in a reproducible manner.
Product development scientists work with research scientists to develop new ideas and scientific discoveries, which can be used in the manufacture of new products. They also develop and improve existing products.
Product and process development scientists are concerned with improving the efficiency and profitability of the manufactured product.
Typical work activities
Exact job roles differ depending on whether you choose to work in process or product development.
Tasks carried out by process development scientists tend to include:
- devising new processes, or refining existing ones, to optimise the manufacturing process;
- planning, carrying out and supervising process trials in laboratories, pilot plants or factories;
- scaling up the production process via plant trials, making changes to raw materials or components and process parameters to ensure quality is maintained during large-scale production;
- improving yields by reducing costs, for example investigating alternative materials or new machinery to improve efficiency, quality and yields in bottleneck areas;
- implementing process controls and devising test methods to assess the production process;
- validating new processes and showing that they are an improvement;
- working with product pipelines at various stages of development;
- developing formulae, specifications and label declarations, and ensuring compliance with the finished product specifications;
- advising on equipment modification to enable process changes for new product development;
- reading and writing technical reports and specifications, and maintaining appropriate records;
- initiating and generating ideas based on reading and research.
Common work tasks carried out by product development scientists include:
- devising methods for making products at the required scale and/or evaluating existing processes to identify areas for improvement;
- formulating and establishing product design and performance objectives, normally in consultation with other functions, including research, marketing and production, as well as contractors, suppliers and customers;
- responding to customer requirements, liaising with suppliers of raw materials and resolving production problems;
- conducting test protocols and procedures, and product evaluation;
- transferring new technologies across a range of product categories;
- writing technical reports and cost estimates, documenting development work and implementing profit improvement programmes;
- generating data to substantiate claims regarding the safety and efficacy of new products (this applies particularly to the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector);
- overseeing the integration of new products with other commercial areas, including brand development, sales strategy, quality assurance, legal, marketing and manufacturing.
Both job roles may involve presenting ideas to senior staff, training and supervising new team members or more junior staff, and reading trade press or attending conferences to keep up to date with industry developments.