In order for colour management to work, you need to take an active role in actually managing colour! This starts with the assumption that having a predictable and accurate colour workflow will reduce the time to complete a job – and that the job will be accurate to the customer’s expectations. Colour management will not work if only one employee is keen on the project. It requires a 100% buy-in from management down. Time and money needs to be spent on hardware and software to learn, test and implement colour management, or it will never work. Why should management interrupt a busy production day to implement colour management? I would respond with these two questions: Do you ever stop production to match a colour? Do all your printing devices match each other? My experience is that this slowdown is not well documented. On an offset press, this could mean you run for an extra 10 to 15 minutes to achieve proper colour on a challenging job. On a digital device, it can mean an additional 15 minutes is taken matching a proof or a spot colour.
If you’re doing this several times a day (say for 260 days a year), it translates into huge losses. If your shop has sales close to 2 million per year, then 30 minutes of downtime costs you $256.41 a day. That doesn’t seem like much until you multiply it over a year. Then you can see that the time spent adjusting colour, adds up to $66,000 in losses. If your shop has sales closer to 5 million, then 30 minutes of lost production costs you $641.03 a day. If you were to gain an additional 30 minutes, you can earn $150,000 a year! I use 30 minutes a day, but honestly, that’s a conservative number. A large number of shops today are spending over 30 minutes a day chasing proper colour.
I hope the above explanation will help you to see the value of implementing a colour-managed workflow. A good place to start would be to create a logbook to track the time your company is spending making adjustments to jobs (or to your device) to match colour. Ideally, the job should flow through your system without interruptions. But the reality is that this doesn’t usually happen. Once you know how much time is being spent, you can begin to look at where to start. The first step to creating a fully colour-managed workflow is to determine exactly where your shop is right now. How are you measuring colour? Are you measuring density only at press, or can you measure colour? Do you have the resources internally, or do you need to outsource? Do you have one or two production employees that will take the lead and will invest the time to keep this program moving?
Understanding what your baseline is for daily production capabilities is the foundation to building an efficient production process. Once you understand your baseline, you can understand how standards, tolerances, deviation and variation can actually make you a better printer, while being more efficient and consistent. Once these key factors are established within the production process, you can determine how to take action. Moving on from there might include looking at various certifications that can elevate your brand. A certified shop can proudly display its certifications to potential customers and show your existing customer base that you’re taking colour seriously. The most prominent in North America is G7, which comes in a few levels of conformance. ISO and Fogra are used primarily in Europe.
But it’s not enough to simply acquire the certifications; you must maintain this process over time. This is where data comes in. Today we have some great options to track your data to ensure that all your plants, devices and people are meeting expectations. If your goals are to be as efficient as possible, win over new clients, and take on more complex and lucrative jobs, then feel free to reach out to me and I’ll do whatever I can to point you in the right direction.
Angus Pady is a colour management expert working with FujiFilm in Toronto. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org