Controlling the color and appearance of products can involve a number of individuals, departments, and suppliers. This process requires a color to be specified, produced, and inspected for accuracy using the appropriate tools, including measurement systems, light booths, and software. Although each company is different in how they operate because of company size, product application, supply chain, and other factors, below we provide an overview of typical job functions that may be involved in this process. This includes solutions to performing more effectively in each role and how color is often coordinated across job functions to meet the defined standard more efficiently.
Depending on the application, the color process often begins with the designer. Their objective is to not only design products that are useful or entertaining, but that are also visually appealing to the customer or end user. Designers specify the color and appearance of the product, among other things.
General role in the color process:
Prior to communicating the selected color to R&D or other departments, the designer can use advanced software to determine if the color is feasible to produce. To accurately communicate the specified color to these departments in numerical terms, the color is quantified using high accuracy color measurement instrumentation. This avoids misinterpretation of specifications by others and helps to move the color process along quicker.
Research and Development / Scientists
Research and development (R&D) professionals are key to creating the color(s) specified by the designer, customer, or internal team. Their goal is to formulate recipes and samples that achieve the specified color the first time.
General role in the color process:
To achieve accurate and consistent results in this role, standardized processes, environmental conditions, and equipment maintenance procedures must first be established. With high accuracy color measurement instrumentation and sophisticated color matching or analysis software, R&D professionals are able to quickly formulate or correct colors and clearly communicate results to others. This increases productivity and eliminates waste.
Production professionals manufacture the finished product. Their objective is to produce products that meet defined quality standards, including color.
General role in the color process:
Tracking key performance metrics, including manufacturing yield and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), is essential to improving the production process and meeting standards more efficiently. Many production managers are now focused on automating the production process and gaining access to real-time data in order to increase uptime and decrease errors. Automated measurements providing real-time data on the production line enable workers to identify and correct out-of-spec product color immediately, eliminating rejects and waste.
To increase productivity and eliminate product rejects within the production process, check out the automated NC-1 In-line Color Monitoring & Control System.
Quality Assurance / Quality Control
Professionals within the quality control field ensure that everything from raw materials to finished products meet defined quality standards through stringent inspections. This includes the color and appearance of products typically specified by the designer, customer, or internal team.
General role in the color process:
Accurate data is essential for quality control to perform effectively. Accurate color measurement instrumentation is required to generate color values of the samples being inspected for comparison against the standard color values. For improving efficiency and performing smarter, more informed assessments, color quality control software is also used to store measurement results, retrieve specifications, and identify out-of-spec color and metamerism* more easily. This ensures the finished product meets color specifications.
To coordinate color seamlessly from design to finished product, standardized equipment, procedures, and conditions must be documented and shared across the supply chain. This ensures the same guidelines and specifications are adhered to for color consistency, accuracy, and improved efficiency.
Processes and conditions to be standardized include:
Visual Evaluation Specifications: Light sources, viewing angles, sample presentation conditions
Measurement Instrument Specifications: Color space, color difference formula, color tolerances, instrument geometry, CIE standard observer, illuminants, sample presentation conditions
* Metamerism: When two or more samples match in color under one light source or viewing condition but not under another
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The technological leader in color and light measurement solutions, Konica Minolta Sensing Americas helps organizations formulate, evaluate, and control color to meet product quality and operational goals more efficiently.
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