Vitracoat wanted to speed up that process, so they partnered with a company that manufactures color reading instruments to develop a small, hand-held spectrophotometer that allows for instantaneous color comparison. It has an algorithm that not only reads the color, but also interfaces with Vitracoat’s color database.
“There are other portable spectrophotometers, but it’s the library of information that’s unique,” says Steve Houston, Vitracoat Americas director of sales and marketing.
Sales staff can use the spectrophotometer at customer sites to test color samples and, in real time using an app on their phone, connect with the Vitracoat database to search for all the products that match the tested sample.
“Without the connection to the database, all you’re doing is comparing one color to another, and the customer has to be physically with you,” says Houston. “This allows us to bring the eye of our lab to the customer’s facility.”
Search results immediately show colors that are close matches, and list each color’s numeric readings comparing the Delta-E numbers. Results also include chemistry, physical properties, cure schedule, gloss, price point, inventory amount and location of current inventory. Customers can pick the product that best fits their needs or request test panels made with sample colors that can be shipped out the same day as the on-site spectrometer reading.
“The old process in the field was a visual evaluation without numeric readings, so it wasn’t exact,” says Houston. “The benefit of this new tool is that it eliminates subjectivity, gives the customer confidence and comfort that this is the correct color, and speeds up the process.”
All the technicians and sales staff have the Vitra-Vision spectrometer in the field. “They use it every day,” says Houston. “We’re always talking color, and we’re always talking matching.”
The tool can also be used to confirm color accuracy on site during customers test runs.
“We can compare that color to the actual standard and get a reading instantaneously,” says Houston. “It takes away the visual or subjective view and gives you a numeric reading immediately.”
The organizations that will benefit the most from the tool will be custom coaters whose coating needs vary and change quickly.
“It’s the customers with the unpredictable needs that will benefit most because they need the quick turnaround with accurate colors,” says Houston. “Speed is the key; they need a match quickly.”
The customer is going to get the same product and the same answer, according to Houston. “They’re just going to get it so much faster.”