Natura tracks investment in the cloud platform in a partnership with Google to test new active ingredients and cosmetics virtually in the cloud for real gains in flexibility, performance, time and resource savings in new product development.
Natura has already eliminated the testing of animal products in 2006 and has adopted more than 60 alternative methodologies, such as the use of a 3D skin, created in the laboratory. Now the tests have become even more digital, comprehensive and 30% faster.
In practice, the Cloud environment performs the tests using algorithms customized by Natura itself. In the model a virtual molecule is created – from a substance / real active – in an environment in which the interactions that it can pass, such as variations in temperature or contact and absorption with water, are simulated.
Technically, the algorithm runs on the Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), an open-source container orchestration system that automates the implementation, scaling, and management of applications in data repositories. A radical change. “The bench tests spent a much longer time. In addition, our current methodology investigates the components and concentrations and reactions without using the skin of a person or animals, simulating their impact. We have achieved great agility, with high scalability, security and at a lower cost on Google’s cloud platform. We were able to reduce the product launch window by 1/3 – from 1 year to 8 months. Our goal is to eliminate the datacenters themselves by 2020, “explains Felipe Moz, IT specialist at Natura.
Before the digital tests, Natura tested the potential of a plant for a specific benefit, such as hydration, strengthening or to increase the brightness of hair. Then it tested the same plant for another cosmetic benefit. Now, with the development of new technologies, the company is able to test, at one time, more than 400 different activations.
“The amount of data these surveys generate is stratospheric and, that´s why, we needed a place to store that information and infrastructure to cross them,” said Daniel Gonzaga, director of product innovation for Natura in Google’s announcement.
“With a skin test, you can see the reaction if it turns red. On a computer, it’s much more complex, “says Antonio Chaddad, Google Cloud account executive.
The tests would not be possible without the Natura databases. With years of accumulated research, in addition to public databases of universities around the world, the cosmetics company has accumulated knowledge about how different molecules react with each other and with human skin or hair.
The tests are only done for new active principles or different combinations between them. The basis of the cosmetic, such as cream, mousse or powder form, is the same already used in other products. “The sensory part depends on common formulas, if the product is drier or creamy, it warms or cools the skin. The benefit comes from the active compound, “explains Gonzaga.
After the tests in the cloud, the final product will be tested on 3D skin and by consumers. But, instead of testing 10 varieties, it will be only two or three, already better defined.
The cost factor is celebrated. With only 10% of the volume expected to be invested in testing the virtual environment effectively used, Natura was able to channel resources to other investments. “The result was well below the estimate. We spend a lot less and get a performance higher than expected. With the lower cost per test, we ended up making an even bigger volume than expected “, counts Natura’s IT specialist.
“When a company, like Natura, needs to use the service, capacity is not limited by the number of computers themselves and can be increased as needed. At the end of the tests, it stops using the equipment and thus paying for it, as well as the costs of maintaining and updating the equipment with the new technologies, which are charged to Google, generating savings, “says Chaddad.