Effective colour management the key to profitability in packaging

Colour is a critical component of a company’s brand and its products. It defines and identifies one product from another. This becomes even more important in the world of retail packaging where colour on the shelf can make all the difference. This means that brand owners – and by extension – their printers are under pressure to ensure consistent colour. Colour is the foundation of brand identity and if the colour is not right the entire supply chain can be compromised.

In addition to this, brand owners are under pressure to streamline processes, improve efficiency, manage costs and reduce waste. Printers play an important part in this process, but also have to provide consistent service and quality in order to assist brand owners in their endeavours. A big part of this comes into how colour is produced. In this regard, colour is not subjective – colour is stored as a spectral curve which acts as an exact specification for printers and converters to match.. Every colour can be measured and therefore, accurately recreated time after time. In order to do this efficiently on the press (with minimal waste and downtime), best practice equipment and processes are required.

While the pressure falls on the printers and converters, they are not alone in their endeavours. Sun Chemical, as the leading global supplier in inks and pigments have developed robust processes, partnering with other market leaders like Pantone and X-rite, in order to support printers in measuring and recreating brand colours as accurately as possible while increasing their operational efficiencies and ensuring best utilisation of available capacity.

The requirement for digital colour communication is growing in the market. It has become increasingly important in the full workflow of packaging production and Sun Chemical is actively involved in driving best practice and meeting the needs of the market. The Sun Chemical Global Colour Management Team co-ordinates the latest technology and best practice to ensure that a consistent approach of high standard is deployed to Sun Chemical sites across the globe.

The Sun Chemical South Africa team has been part of this deployment. It has been a few years now since the first team visited Europe for in-depth training on the tools, technology and methodologies being introduced globally. The outcome of this has been the establishment of a fully integrated Central Colour Matching Laboratory (CCML) at the Durban site (the first in Africa to service the print and packaging industry).

The latest colour measurement and management hardware, software and techniques are in use at the local CCML. The expertise and experience of the local team has grown exponentially with ongoing support from the Global Colour Management Team.

The South African team has a direct link to the central colour management databases in Europe. This ensures a strong alignment to the European standards and helps deliver this standardised approach to our South African customer base. This alignment provides an added benefit for multi-national and multi-site printers operating in South Africa. It has enabled ease of transfer of information, strong controls in digital colour communication, and reduced risk associated with the movement of work between plants.

Strong integration of Sun Chemical sites with the Global Colour Management Team has helped drive the exponential increase in expertise and capabilities within Sun Chemical South Africa. Strong integration and alignment of approach is also needed with our customers in order that we deliver the maximum benefit for our customers.

Effective colour management is an integrated process and not a single Procedure. We are pleased to have partnered with several customers who have embraced the best practice approach and the benefits are becoming tangible. As the partnerships and projects mature, we look forward to helping our customers with various business improvement initiatives well beyond colour management alone.

Sun Chemical has developed the SunColorBox which may be progressively introduced into the colour management workflow dependent on the current available infrastructure and status of the colour management approach. SunColorBox is a fully optimised ‘toolbox’ of digital applications and services that ensures precise colour at every stage of the print production cycle.

This toolbox includes: Private Cloud; SunConsulting service; SunCMYK and SunECG for the management of process printing; SunDigiProof which produces quick onsite colour accurate proofs; SunDigiGuide, a digitally printed colour standards book that accurately communicates colours to customers in a visual but accurate way; SunMatch, which enables full digital colour communication between ink supply and customer networks across multiple locations to achieve the best, quickest and lowest cost colour match; SunColorQC, which enables measurement controls to be put in place to monitor production; and PantoneLIVE, which through Sun Chemical’s partnership with Pantone is used to underpin the colour offering, together with colour management hardware and software from X-Rite Pantone.

‘SunColorBox is the most complete digital colour management solution on the market. One hundred percent digital colour management, integrated on a global scale, is now a reality. SunColorBox is unique in that all users operate in a fully-digital workflow, producing colours that match the original specifications,’ said Patrice Aurenty, Business Leader, Colour Management, Sun Chemical.

The local CCML has selectively implemented several of the tools based on the current market demand in South Africa. These include: latest hardware from X-Rite Pantone; latest ink formulation and quality control software from X-Rite Pantone; SunDigiproof capabilities; and access to PantoneLIVE and the European SunMatch platform that helps maintain a high level of efficiency and accuracy even for a remote location like South Africa.

Sun Chemical South Africa, continues to engage with customers to help deliver the benefits of digital colour management and together with the Global Colour Management Team is well poised to engage with customers who are driven to maximise the value that can be derived through the integrated approach available through SunColorBox.

Through this initiative and with these solotions, printers and converters are assured of accurate colour matching which will make the process of achieving consistent and predictable colour easy while delivering reduced waste, and improved efficiency and profitability.