This article describes how a combination of an ultra scale-down (USD) shear device feeding a microwell centrifugation plate may be used to provide a prediction of how mammalian cell broth will clarify at scale. In particular a method is described that is inherently adaptable to a robotic platform and may be used to predict how the flow rate and capacity (equivalent settling area) of a centrifuge and the choice of feed zone configuration may affect the solids carry over in the supernatant. This is an important consideration as the extent of solids carry over will determine the required size and lifetime of a subsequent filtration stage or the passage of fine particulates and colloidal material affecting the performance and lifetime of chromatography stages. The extent of solids removal observed in individual wells of a microwell plate during centrifugation is shown to correlate with the vertical and horizontal location of the well on the plate. Geometric adjustments to the evaluation of the equivalent settling area of individual wells (ΣM) results in an improved prediction of solids removal as a function of centrifuge capacity. The USD centrifuge settling characteristics need to be as for a range of equivalent flow rates as may be experienced at an industrial scale for a machine of different shear characteristics in the entry feed zone. This was shown to be achievable with two microwell-plate based measurements and the use of varying fill volumes in the microwells to allow the rapid study of a fivefold range of equivalent flow rates (i.e., at full scale for a particular industrial centrifuge) and the effect of a range of feed configurations. The microwell based USD method was used to examine the recovery of CHO-S cells, prepared in a 5 L reactor, at different points of growth and for different levels of exposure to shear post reactor. The combination of particle size distribution measurements of the cells before and after shear and the effect of shear on the solids remaining after centrifugation rate provide insight into the state of the cells throughout the fermentation and the ease with which they and accumulated debris may be removed by continuous centrifugation. Hence bioprocess data are more readily available to help better integrate cell culture and cell removal stages and resolve key bioprocess design issues such as choice of time of harvesting and the impact on product yield and contaminant carry over. Operation at microwell scale allows data acquisition and bioprocess understanding over a wide range of operating conditions that might not normally be achieved during bioprocess development. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2009; 104: 321–331 © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.