by Mark Gundlach, Solutions Architect, X-rite
**This article originally appeared on the X-Rite Blog at http://blog.xrite.com/colorcert-productivity/
As the range of substrates, inks, and printing technologies has expanded, so has the challenge of maintaining color quality. A workflow based on digital standards is the easiest way to achieve accuracy and consistency across shifts and sites regardless of production requirements. Adding a quality control solution like ColorCert® to your workflow can boost your bottom line even more.
ColorCert provides specific modules focused on each part of the workflow, helping flexo, gravure, and offset printers remove subjectivity, analyze data, and deliver increased productivity for the packaging industry.
ColorCert is helping UK-based Ultimate Packaging create a more efficient ink kitchen, improve premedia, produce fewer proofs, enhance customer relationships, and achieve an amazing 200% improvement in quality.
What is ColorCert?
ColorCert is modular, job-based workflow solution that enables streamlined communication across your workflow… from prepress, ink room, press room and Root Cause analysis.
ColorCert provides a unique interface focused on simplifying the feedback to the press operator. This allows them to spend less time reviewing data and more time focusing on applying corrective actions, and see the results during the run. It offers an easy way for production managers – and even brand owner clients – to track and analyze massive amounts of data.
By utilizing ColorCert ScoreCard Server, companies can discover areas of opportunity for improvement, enabling a focus on continuous improvement. If the job score is low, it’s easy to analyze the causes and gain insight into ways to optimize production by streamlining and improving processes.
The ColorCert interface is very easy to use, especially when combined with X-Rite eXact Scan, a handy and highly functional handheld spectrophotometer. When utilizing the Scanning functionality, a user can capture massive amounts of data in seconds; capturing the data that is now required for a modern process control workflow. What used to take minutes now takes seconds.
Ultimate Packaging was invited to try PantoneLIVETM and ColorCert® by Asda, a wholly owned subsidiary of Wal-Mart and a key customer for Ultimate Packaging, as part of Asda’s objective to maximize supply chain efficiencies. “We were happy to do so, but at the time we didn’t really think it would make a great deal of difference to our operations,” said Vincent Whatley, X-Rite Coordinator at Ultimate Packaging. “In actual fact, it has made a big difference for us and for Asda.” Ultimate Packaging implemented ColorCert on its newest F&K flexible packaging press where 20% of the work produced is for Asda.
A provider of flexible packaging solutions to a broad array of customers, the company has six flexo presses (8 and 10 colors) in a 100,000 square foot manufacturing plant. “ColorCert gave us visibility into problems we were not aware we had, including with our ICC profiles, ink formulation and proofs.”
How does it work?
Utilizing a combination of ColorCert’s desktop software, the CC Repository (Cloud-based Color Asset Management System), and the CC ScoreCard Server (Cloud-based Reporting Server), every stakeholder in the workflow – including prepress, ink room, press room, in one site or many – can be linked. This allows proper communication of color and print expectations… streamlining communication of color standards, tolerances, and press setup information.
To properly understand print performance, Ultimate Packaging utilized 100%, 70% and 40% patches in their color bar. They were able to place these color bars within the artwork, not restricted to the outer edges of the sheet, to make better use of real estate on expensive substrate. Utilizing the eXact Scan, the press operator scans each roll of material to make sure the proper color and print performance expectations were being maintained. Once the job is completed, the data is automatically uploaded (without a secondary process) to the Asda ScoreCard Server so both Asda and Ultimate Packaging can view quality trending and have fact-based discussions about quality. This dynamic drives clarity of expectations and proactive quality improvement.
Asda can also see which instrument has been used and verify that instruments have been certified with NetProfiler, which gives them confidence in a reliable, closed-loop color measurement and management process. http://www.pantone.com/pages/pantone.aspx?pg=20984
In order to provide sufficient data for full analytics, Ultimate Packaging reports on all of the work the press produces, making the information available through ColorCert Scorecard, so that Asda can see how the press is performing overall.
What have X-Rite solutions done for Ultimate Packaging’s productivity?
- A more efficient ink kitchen. Ultimate Packaging partners with Sun Chemical for on-site ink formulation and dispensing. X-Rite InkFormulation Software and X-Rite color measurement instruments have been key to ensuring both that the correct inks are delivered as well as that inks are formulated accurately for each job. They also use PantoneLIVE digital color standards, integrating with InkFormulation Software and ColorCert Inkroom Tools for increased efficiency, more accurate ink formulation, and less waste on press.
- Improved premedia. Ultimate Packaging partners with a number of repro houses for prepress operations, and ColorCert has enabled them to reduce the amount of retouching required, improving the quality of the profiles being used. “With the data we gathered using ColorCert, we learned a great deal about repeatability, as well as hitting the scores and ICC targets through fingerprinting. It has also helped us work out how variables such as heat, viscosity and temperature were affecting our outcomes. It was a big learning curve, and as a result we have up-skilled our staff and significantly improved our performance and our communication with our repro house partners,” Whatley says
- More accurate production. ColorCert Scorecard has helped Ultimate Packaging easily identify areas to improve performance. This ensures that profiles are correct, plates are correct, inks are accurate, and the company’s partners better understand what is needed. The result? An improvement of 200% in Ultimate’s ColorCert score!
- Better customer relationships. Since implementing ColorCert, Ultimate has a better awareness of what is coming into the building and what is leaving. “Our relationship with Asda was always good, but it has really improved since we implemented PantoneLIVE and ColorCert.” Whatley states. “Having the ColorCert Scorecard in place has given performance visibility to all authorized parties in the supply chain. This helps with communication, putting everyone at ease, knowing that product delivered will be consistent and of highest possible quality.”
If you’d like to learn more about the practical application of ColorCert in a digital packaging workflow, download the full Ultimate Packaging case study http://www.xrite.com/documents/literature/en/L7-591_Ultimate_Packaging_CS_en.pdf
About the Author:
Mark Gundlach is an X-Rite Solution Architect. He has over 24 years of experience working in photography, design, and print environments. He worked for seven years as a commercial photographer, and was one of the first to adopt and use digital photography and color management in a commercial studio. Mark was an early advocate of a fully digital workflow process. Later he used his experience as a system integrator to install and train users on color management, prepress production, pressroom process control, and digital workflow best practices. Mark is a certified IDEAlliance G7TM Expert, Apple Color Management Pro and Color Management Trainer, and has helped hundreds of companies take control of their workflows over his 17 years of professional training.
PANTONE®, PantoneLIVE and other Pantone trademarks are the property of Pantone LLC. All other trademarks or registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Pantone is a wholly owned subsidiary of X-Rite, Incorporated. Licensed under Sun Chemical Corporation. Sun Chemical’s patented technology enables the communication of a consistent, digital description of the desired appearance of a product. – [U.S. Patent Nos. 7,034,960; 7,202,976; 7,268,918; 7,417,764 and their foreign equivalents].
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Source: FlexoGlobal Blog