Writing in its international patent, L’Oréal said it had designed a smart network that integrated digital information with on-the-ground processing and packaging, enabling single-unit personalised hair dye kits to be manufactured and bottled on-demand. Consumers ordered their custom hair dye formulations via an app or online, following a video consultation with a colourist or participating in a ‘colour quiz’.
“There is a need to provide a larger variety of colour formulations, and even customisable colour formulations, to make available for customer purchase,” L’Oréal wrote in its patent filing.
However, conventional systems made it difficult to “efficiently predict and make available” such a large variety of hair dye formulations at a large scale, it said.
‘Collaborative robots’ for smart made-to-order hair dye kits
L’Oréal had therefore designed a robotic processing system that used digital barcode scanning, data and artificial intelligence (AI) to fill single-unit bottles according to personalised e-commerce orders.
“The system described herein produces personalised cosmetic products on-demand in a factory. The machine is comprised of several different stations linked together by collaborative robots. The system is self-organising, and the stations figure out on their own what they need to do in order to produce the products.” L’Oréal said the system was “highly automated”, requiring just one full-time operator.
L’Oréal said a central server orchestrated production processes, monitored quality and efficiency, provided live traceability dashboard information and could also sequence orders using AI.
Made-to-order hair dye bottles were then labelled with the customer name and formula number, along with recommended application information, the shade level and the tone.
L’Oréal said its system offered the “fastest personalised manufacturing to date”, running at a speed of ten units per minute with a current capacity of 1.5 million units per year. Capacity, however, could be increased heavily in the coming years, with the addition of just one or two machines, and the system could easily cater to new hair dye formulations, it said.
‘Made-to-stock’ – bulk fill strategy also integrated
Beyond manufacturing customised orders, L’Oréal said the system had also been designed to formulate and fill ‘made-to-stock’ products – generic dye colours which were in high demand.
Bag-in-box large volume containers stored standard use compounds and could be accessed using a special valve and probe; larger sized hardened containers held heavy use compounds.
These could then either be used directly by L’Oréal for future orders or transported and used by third-party fillers.
WIPO International Patent No. WO/2020/180792
Published on: September 10, 2020. Filed on: March 2, 2020.
Title: “System for generating a custom hair dye formulation”
Inventor: L’Oréal – D. Rosenberg and P. Gambutti