Spectrophotometers for Measuring Co Guarantee Gin Quality Control

One of my cousins has been a bartender for long enough that at family gatherings our relatives have stopped asking when she’s going back to nursing school. She never did seem that interested in the medical profession. Works for me. While I might ask someone else for help if I needed the Heimlich maneuver, I’d unhesitatingly go to this cousin for advice on cocktails. Seeking to better her knowledge of her chosen profession, she’s a regular on the craft distillery tour circuit. She’ll even plan trips to far-flung cities to get a taste of the gins, whiskeys, rums, piscos, baijiu’s, and sometimes moonshine!

She and I both like gin, and lacking any true knowledge of the subject on my own, I follow her advice on gin brands unfailingly. This last Thanksgiving, she surprised me by changing course, telling me to avoid a gin we’d been drinking together for years. “They’re no good anymore,” she said. “It’s been coming out cloudy.” As always, I took her advice.

hard alcohol
Customers expect crystal clear, water white gin. Image Credit: Flickr User Graeme Maclean (CC BY 2.0)

 

Gin Manufacturers Depend on Color Quality Control to Ensure Brand Consistency

Brand consistency is important for gin manufacturers. Distilleries distinguish themselves by their proprietary mix of botanicals1 and distillation process. So when a distillery accidentally deviates from its formula, it loses the essential essence of its brand. This can happen through variation in raw materials, such as botanicals or neutral spirits. Botanicals can vary widely2, with different suppliers, crop year, or batch. Cloudiness can occur in distilled spirits3 from imperfectly filtered water, fusel oils, or the use of activated carbon filters. As long as these differences are noticeable to consumers, they have the potential to cost a company business.

Companies who produce inconsistent gin stand to lose sales. Customers who’ve developed a loyalty to that particular gin blend will be disappointed and may consider trying a different company’s product. Similarly, new customers who notice unexpected colors or cloudiness may not even give that gin a chance. Either way, gin companies are losing more than a single sale when QA is not bulletproof. According to Gin Foundry’s 2016 survey4 62% of customers expect to always be asked what type of gin they’d like in their cocktail at the bar. In addition, 56% of customers always ask for a particular brand of gin when ordering gin and tonic. Both of these numbers rose from 2015’s survey. These numbers are strong indications that customers buy gin based on established preferences. Alcohol purchases can be reflexive, the result of habit, and so customers who choose a different brand may stick with that brand for life.

 

Transmission Spectrophotometers Objectively Assess the Color of Gin

For these reasons, color and haze quality control is essential for gin manufacturers. That’s why manufacturers employ transmission spectrophotometers and haze measurement instruments to detect any deficiencies before any batch is bottled and shipped. These instruments objectively assess the color and haze of transparent liquids, like gin.

Aviation Gin
Quality control is as essential for small craft distilleries as for large manufacturers. Image Credit: Flickr User Brandon O’Connor (CC BY 2.0)

Simple Instruments Allow Easy Workflow Integration

While it may seem complicated, in practice the operation of these instruments is simple. The first step is calibration. Every eight hours, the instrument is calibrated, to ensure measurement accuracy. In modern machines, like HunterLab’s Vista, calibration is accomplished with a single touch of a button.

Once calibrated, technicians select the standard they wish to measure samples against. For a company that only makes one product—gin—there will only be one standard to choose from. Companies distilling more than one liquor can choose from a number of standards saved in the instrument’s memory.

From there, technicians place a sample of gin in the instrument’s sample compartment. The instrument measures the sample and displays the results as compared to the selected standard on its screen. If the sample’s results are within the company’s tolerance, it passes the test. All of this takes about three seconds.

With earlier instruments, these steps would need to be repeated twice: once to measure color with the transmission spectrophotometer, and again to measure haze with a separate instrument. However, as both measurements can be assessed using the same principles, it isn’t necessary to perform them with two separate instruments. HunterLab’s Vista can measure both color and haze simultaneously. This saves distillers time and frees up benchtop space in their quality control labs.

The ease of use, small footprint, and cost-efficiency of HunterLab’s Vista makes it an ideal choice for gin manufacturers looking to improve their quality assurance processes. To learn more about how Vista can help keep your gin clear and on-color, contact our friendly, knowledgeable sales professionals today.

  1. “The Production of Gin,” 2017, http://www.ginvodka.org/history/ginProduction.asp
  2. “A day in the life of a quality control officer,” 2015, https://talesofthecocktail.com/in-depth/day-life-quality-control-officer
  3. “Cloudy Spirit,” 2015, http://homedistiller.org/distill/dtw/cloudy
  4. “GINFOGRAPHIC 2016,” 2016, http://www.ginfoundry.com/insights/ginfographic-2016/

Why Measuring the Color of Vanilla Ice Cream Matters Now More Than Ever

ice cream cone
As the ice cream market becomes more competitive and specialized than ever before, spectrophotometric color measurement is becoming increasingly critical to monitor appearance and quality. Image Source: Pexels user Pixabay

 

Summer is a time for lazy days at the beach, backyard barbecue parties, and chasing fireflies into the evening. It’s also the time for ice cream. Whether lured by the familiar sound of the neighborhood ice cream truck or drawn in by a new wave of socially conscious ice cream shops, we flock toward these frozen treats in massive numbers1. According to Fortune, Americans spent over $13 billion on ice cream in 2013, “not including restaurant sales,” and the average consumer will eat ice cream almost 22 pounds of ice cream each year2. Despite the explosion of the frozen yogurt market, ice cream sales still outnumber frozen yogurt sales by a factor of 24 to 1. What’s more, ice cream sales have shot up in recent years in countries like Turkey, Brazil, and China, adding to what is currently a $78 billion global business.

 

However, the ice cream market is changing. As the public has become both more health conscious and more interested in food sourcing and quality, ice cream manufacturers have had to re-evaluate their production and marketing strategies. For some, this has meant moving toward more natural ingredients, devoid of the artificial colors and flavors many major ice cream producers have relied on for years. For others, it has opened the door to ice cream manufacturing for the first time, giving creameries the opportunity to enter the burgeoning premium ice cream market. In cities like Los Angeles and New York, people are lining up around the block to sample novel flavors like sticky rice and mango or labneh with pistachio and candied orange offered by artisanal shops3.

 

But despite the introduction of virtually limitless new and novel flavors, the most popular ice cream variety remains vanilla. According to the International Ice Cream Association, vanilla ice cream is preferred by 29% of consumers, with chocolate coming in second place at a mere 8.9%4. With the transformations occurring within the world of ice cream, however, vanilla can no longer simply be, well, vanilla. Rising consumer demand for high quality products is forcing both long-time players and newcomers to raise the bar and perfect their vanilla ice creams. With the stakes higher than ever, spectrophotometric color measurement is now becoming an increasingly critical part of the manufacturing process.

 

vanilla
The color of vanilla ice cream is affected by a range of process variables, including whether real vanilla or synthetic vanillin is used in the manufacturing process. Image Source: Flickr user Joy

 

Why the Color of Vanilla Ice Cream Matters

 

Color is a vital aspect of any food; research has confirmed again and again that what we see deeply affects how we experience foods and can make or break a particular food product. This may be particularly true of food “basics”, like vanilla ice cream. Consumers have specific expectations of what vanilla ice cream looks like and while there may be a range of acceptable colors, a product that falls outside of that range can turn off customers simply due to appearance.

 

Part of this is logical; the color of vanilla ice cream reflects its ingredients and we may reasonably expect a yellowish creamy variety to taste different than a pale white vanilla ice cream. The color of ice cream flavored using natural vanilla is typically different than that flavored using vanillin, for example. The other part, however, is sentimental. “Ice cream is about sense memory,” says Michael Palmer, owner of McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, a Santa Monica-based creamery with a number of popular Los Angeles-area outposts5. “Everybody has a story, a memory about ice cream.” Part of that sense memory is aesthetic; you want vanilla ice cream to look a certain way because you remember it looking that way in the past, regardless of whether appearance is directly correlated to the flavor. Because, ultimately, it is not just the taste, but the experience of ice cream consumers are seeking. And that experience begins with sight.

 

Spectrophotometers are ideally suited to measure the color of vanilla ice cream to ensure the highest level of quality in every batch. Image Source: Pexels user Madeline Tallmann

 

Measuring the Color of Ice Cream

 

The ideal color of vanilla ice cream is subjective and will vary according to each manufacturer’s process and preferences. Creating and reproducing that color, however, requires objective analytical tools. This is particularly true when working with pale shades that can be particularly susceptible to the impact of ambient light and other environmental interferences. Additionally, the nature of ice cream itself presents unique challenges for accurately assessing color. As Rachael Stothard writes:

 

The physical characteristics of ice cream do make it hard to measure consistently; it would be detrimental to alter the production process to attempt to attain a sample of the frozen finished product and most measurements would be taken in a warm laboratory meaning the sample would be changing consistency as it melts. Therefore, when talking of measuring the color of ice cream, it is not the frozen matter being measured but rather the liquid substance that gives ice cream its desired color.6

 

Spectrophotometers are ideally suited to measure the color of ice cream via sophisticated optical geometries that allow you to accurately capture reflectance values over the visible spectrum.

 

Ice cream samples should preferably be poured or pipetted in circular, glass cups that fit flush against the sample area and allows the liquid “to be distributed evenly for measurements. Plastic cups may be used in environments with a high risk of breakage, although plastic’s susceptibility to scratching could compromise measurement accuracy. To enhance the reliability of results, each sample should either be covered by an opaque cover or backed by a white backing tile depending on your preference. One sample from a batch, however, is not enough. Rather, multiple measurements should be taken of each sample and multiple samples should be analyzed from each batch. Sample averaging will allow you to achieve the greatest insight into the color behavior of each batch, optimizing accuracy.

 

The Benefits of Color Measurement

 

Measuring the color of vanilla ice cream has multiple benefits that enhance overall quality and ensure that your product is the best it can be. First, it gives you the data you need to determine the exact shade of white needed for your ice cream. During the product development process, spectrophotometric analysis allows you to determine the impact of each variable on color and gives you the opportunity to tailor your manufacturing process to create your standard and tolerance range. Once in production, spectrophotometers allow you to monitor your ice creams by automatically alerting you when a batch falls outside of your desired tolerance. When this happens, you have the opportunity to halt production to determine the cause of the variation, minimizing product waste and making it possible to quarantine faulty product.

 

In today’s competitive environment, the ability to tailor the appearance of your vanilla ice cream to your exact specifications and consistently reproduce that color in each batch can be imperative to attracting discerning consumers. At the same time, the ability to prevent the release of a faulty product while minimizing material and labor waste has real economic benefits. As such, investment in a spectrophotometric instrument can pay for itself many times over during the course of its life.

 

HunterLab Quality

 

HunterLab has been on the cutting edge of color measurement technology for over 60 years. Today, we offer the most advanced spectrophotometers and accessories available to suit the needs of both large and small ice cream producers. With versatile, user-friendly designs, our instruments are easily integrated into any manufacturing environment to give you the highest level of quality control at any stage of your process. Contact us to learn more about our renowned range of products and let us help you select the right instrument for your needs.

  1. “Ice Cream With A Side of Social Justice Has Arrived in Times Square”, May 24, 2017, http://gothamist.com/2017/05/24/ice_and_vice_times_square.php#photo-1
  2. “Do We Still Scream for Ice Cream?” July 24, 2014, http://fortune.com/2014/07/24/ice-cream-sales/
  3. “You Scream, I Scream … At the Price of Ice Cream”, August 3, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/04/dining/04icecream.html
  4. “The Top 15 Most Popular Ice Cream Flavors”, July 30, 2008, http://www.foodchannel.com/articles/article/the-top-15-most-popular-ice-cream-flavors/
  5. “Artisanal Ice Cream Is Taking Over L.A.”, http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/new-ice-cream-shops-create-freezing-frenzy-in-la
  6. “How to Measure the Color of Ice Cream”, January 16, 2015, http://mail.colourmeasure.com/knowledge-base/2015-01-16-how-to-measure-the-colour-of-ice-cream

Blow molders Need Transmittance Spectrophotometers for Efficient Color Quality Control

We’ve all walked into a store on a hot summer day looking for a cold and refreshing beverage. When I lived in Canada and would visit the US, I was always floored by the wide variety of soda flavors to choose from on the shelf. Ultimately, beverage color played a role in my final selection, but mostly it was the bottle color that really swung my vote. Bottle color is essential to the brands of established companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi1 and for up and coming companies that want to establish themselves.

 

7UP
The characteristic green bottle of 7UP makes it easy to identify and suggests a certain flavor. Image Credit: Flickr User El Gran Dee (CC BY 2.0)

 

 

Color Consistency Is Essential for Blow Molders

 

Not only is the color of the bottle a major feature of manufacturers’ brands, but its transparency must also be consistent. This means that it is integral that blow mold manufacturers produce consistently colored products. Some people, like myself, associate bottle color with the taste that we think matches that particular shade. Others with a more sensitive palate actually can taste the long-term effects of UV exposure on their beverages2. This means that if your product is sensitive to certain wavelengths, the color and transparency of your bottle will affect your product’s shelf life.  

 

The need for large-scale consistency dictates the implementation of instrumental color measurement devices, like spectrophotometers. These instruments eliminate the guesswork that human observers must rely on. Spectrophotometers can also record data more quickly and accurately than human observers, by uploading it directly to a computer or network library. Because of these gains in efficiency, most blow molders use spectrophotometers for their color QC.

 

blow molded mouthwash bottles
Some manufacturers prefer transparent bottles, to showcase the color of their products. Image Credit: Flickr User Jeff Kimmel (CC BY 2.0)

 

Opaque and Transparent Plastics Require Different Color Measurement Techniques

 

The coloration process that creates opaque and transparent preforms can be inaccurate, which is why manufacturers need color quality control in the first place. A color is injected into preforms in the form of plastic pellets during the molded process. Creating an opaque plastic is a matter of controlling the amount and concentration of pellets added. To create a transparent or translucent clear or colored plastic, a manufacturer adds much less color than an opaque plastic requires. Color inaccuracy can result from differences in the raw pellets, temperature fluctuations during the molding process, or the uneven dispersion of pellets.

 

Spectrophotometers Save Blow Mold Manufacturers Time and Money

 

We at HunterLab have over 60 years of experience creating instruments to help you optimize your QA and QC processes. For blow molders, we recommend using the UltraScan Vis spectrophotometer. To learn more about how we can address your color measurement needs, contact our friendly, knowledgeable sales force today.

 

  1. “Antique Cola and Pop Bottles,” http://www.collectorsweekly.com/bottles/cola
  2. “Physics and Green Beer Bottles,” https://www.wired.com/2013/03/physics-and-green-beer-bottles/

Mouthwash Manufacturers Rely on Spectrophotometers for Color Quality Control to Ensure Brand Consistency

The color of mouthwash has nothing to do with its efficacy. It is not the byproduct of any medicinal ingredients or flavors, nor do mouthwashes of different colors vary in substance. So why do mouthwash manufacturers bother adding coloration to their recipes? Branding.

 

mouthwash on shelf in store
What color does your mouth smell like? Image Credit: Flickr User danjo paluska (CC BY 2.0)

 

Color Is Inextricable From Brand for Mouthwash Companies

 

The bright blues, greens, yellow, and purples of various mouthwashes are intended to differentiate similar products in the eyes of consumers. While they may have the same active ingredients, differently colored mouthwashes look like separate products. The colors of mouthwash brands are also linked to unique flavors and scents. This affects customer choice in a number of ways.

 

For new customers, bold, eye-catching colors attract attention and lend an impression of potency. Particularly strong colors can be linked unconsciously with strong effects. Also, most people have preferences for certain colors (I happen to like yellow and green). Without more compelling reasons to prefer a particular brand, customers may simply pick the color they like the best. Once they’ve picked this color, unless the product is unsatisfactory for some reason—which is doubtful, as one is much the same the other—they’re likely to pick the same color the next time. This preference will be reinforced by any perceived or actual differences in flavor or scent.

Swish mouthwash
Customers develop loyalties towards particular mouthwash colors. Image Credit: Flickr User the impulsivebuy (CC BY 2.0)

 

Quality Control Processes Assure Mouthwash Brand Consistency

 

This effect is lost if manufacturers alter the color of their products, or if their colors lack consistency from batch to batch. For these reasons, manufacturers employ stringent color quality control procedures at their production facilities. Samples of each batch, or enough batches to generate statistical reliability, are measured in test labs before the mouthwash is bottled. Measurement is done at this stage to prevent any extra loss of revenue in bottling materials, bottling machine energy, or delivery costs. Any variation detected at the test lab stage can be corrected by mixing in additional colorants while the mouthwash is still in the vat.

 

For this purpose, most manufacturers have long since jettisoned human observers. Even when comparing mouthwash samples to established standards, human observers are subjective in their analysis of color. Different observers can see different colors. Also, the same observer can see different colors based on lighting, sample size, and even mood. Given the large volumes of mouthwash produced, this subjectivity can result in inconsistent coloration, perhaps even in bottles sitting next to each other on the shelf. As color is such an important factor in consumer choice, this inconsistency could not be allowed to persist.

 

mouthwash
Color consistency is important when producing large volumes of mouthwash. Image Credit: Flickr User Jae-sun Gim (CC BY 2.0)

 

 

Transmission Spectrophotometers Offer Reliable, Objective Color Analysis

 

As a result, manufacturers have turned to spectrophotometers, objective color analysis instruments, to measure their mouthwash. These instruments report color results numerically, and their results are precise. This prevents any inconsistently colored batches from leaving the vat. Not every spectrophotometer measures color in the same way, which is why you should use a transmission spectrophotometer to accurately measures transparent liquids like mouthwash.

 

With over six decades of experience developing spectrophotometers for transparent liquids, HunterLab has engineered a series of solutions ideal for the mouthwash industry. For companies that only manufacture transparent liquids, like mouthwash, and wish to save space in their laboratory the Vista color and haze transmission spectrophotometer is a sound color measurement solution. Much smaller than earlier spectrophotometers, and more affordable, Vista is a top-of-the-line solution for transmission color analysis. For companies testing the color of mouthwash and other opaque liquids or solids, the UltraScan series of spectrophotometers is capable of reflectance and transmittance measurement. While larger than Vista, UltraScan spectrophotometers eliminate the need for a separate instrument to test the color quality of the company’s opaque products. To learn more about which instrument would be ideal for your production process, contact our friendly, professional sales force today.

 

Spectrophotometric Monitoring of Color Consistency Solidifies Brand Identity

camera
Choosing the right color palette for your brand can be vita l to your success. Image Source: Flickr user peace6x

 

Color is all around us. It is part of virtually everything we see, informing our experiences day in and day out in. And on January 20, 2017, the politicians in Washington D.C. wanted to inform your experience of them. Trump in his red tie, Obama with his in blue, Hillary, Ivanka, and Tiffany in white, Michelle in crimson, and, of course, Melania in her sky blue. These colors weren’t accidents, but deliberate choices driven in part by the desire to shape public perception using color psychology.

 

“Colors and brands are very important [for all politicians],” says Dr. Dong Shen, professor of Fashion Merchandising and Design at California State University.1 Shen explains that the inaugural color choices, particularly for the women, were designed to tap into our shared sense of meaning, one that goes beyond red for Republican, blue for Democrat. Melania’s blue, she believes, symbolizes loyalty and trust, while Michelle’s red reflects fire, passion, and sensitivity, although her choice of a more subdued crimson shade signals that she is no longer center stage. Purity was the message sent by Ivanka and Tiffany’s whites while Hillary’s was one of healing. Through their respective shades, these women invited us to see them in particular ways, introducing (or re-introducing) us to their “brands” and sending us messages about their values and identities.

 

Clothing, however, can be changed. If you make a misstep you can just try something new next time. Choosing the right color to introduce a product brand is a far more complex operation, which is why companies go to great lengths to select appropriate color palettes for their brands. “Color is one of the biggest factors that marketers and designers take into account,” says Rose Leadem of Entrepreneur. 2 Color allows you to speak for your product without saying a word, offering a way of instantly “conveying meaning and message” to connect to consumers on a deeply visceral level.3 And deploying color psychology is no easy task; as Leadem explains, “Perception of color can change based on a person’s age, gender, personality, income, and other factors, which means marketers must understand who their target audience is and how they wish the brand to be perceived.” This often means countless hours of research, design work, and testing in order to come up with the right shades.

 

But choosing the perfect color palette for your brand is only the first step. The colors chosen must be reproduced exactly again and again in order to create a cohesive brand identity and fortify that identity through repeated exposure to consumers. Spectrophotometric color measurement is a vital part of that process, ensuring perfect color matching regardless of the material with which you are working.

 

The Importance of Reproduction

 

Color is widely recognized as the most important aspect of a product’s branding materials, as it is the one that is most readily remembered by consumers and instrumental in guiding consumer perception. Iconic brands have perfected this art by creating a strong color scheme. They do this by exposing the public to that scheme again and again and again, until the colors and brands become interchangeable. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Tiffany & Co. have all been wildly successful in this endeavor and can be identified based on color alone in the same way we can identify a Louboutin shoe by its red sole. The colors themselves have become icons, standing in for the brand as a whole – it’s not just red, it’s Coca-Cola red. It’s not just robin’s egg blue, it’s Tiffany blue. Recognizability, then, depends on exact color reproduction to cement the relationship between the product and color in the minds of both current and potential customers. In order to strengthen that connection and encourage instant identification, your chosen shade must be represented each and every time the consumer encounters your product regardless of what form that encounter takes, whether it’s on product labeling and packaging, advertising, or signage.

 

coke bottles
Spectrophotometric color measurements gives you the highest level of insight into color behavior, allowing you to match color and appearance in disparate media. Image Source: Flickr user SoxFanInSD

 

Creating Color Consistency

 

Historically, color consistency has primarily been evaluated via visual inspection. However, the human eye is inherently a subjective evaluator, prone to inaccuracies that compromise the ability to maintain truly consistent color. Spectrophotometers, however, offer a sophisticated, objective way of capturing color information without the vulnerabilities inherent to the human eye. As such, companies across industries rely on spectrophotometric instrumentation to monitor color behavior throughout the production process, ensuring batch-to-batch and lot-to-lot consistency.

 

But what is truly remarkable about spectrophotometers for the purpose of branding isn’t just that they measure color in one type of material. Rather, spectrophotometers are capable of measuring color and appearance in all material forms, allowing you to create color consistency across media with disparate optical properties. From flat, matte papers to translucent plastic films, spectrophotometers offer a range of optical geometries to ensure you have the ability to analyze color quality and product appearance across your entire product line and throughout your packaging and marketing materials. Sophisticated software packages like Easymatch QC facilitate this process, giving you the data you need to produce exact color matches and instantly alerting you to unwanted variations. As a result, you are easily able to quarantine any defective product that may compromise your color/brand strategy and prevent its release into the marketplace.

 

The HunterLab Difference

 

HunterLab has been a pioneer in the field of color measurement for over 60 years. Throughout that time, our advanced technologies have helped our customers create and solidify their brand identities through smart and consistent use of color. Today, we offer a comprehensive range of spectrophotometers capable of analyzing virtually any material performing in even the most challenging conditions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned instruments, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services.

 

  1. “The Color Psychology Behind Inauguration Fashion”, January 21, 2017, http://www.abc10.com/news/local/the-psychology-behind-behind-inauguration-fashion/389407249
  2. “The Role of Color in Branding”, December 10, 2016, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286324
  3. “Color & Branding”, 2012, https://www.colormatters.com/color-and-marketing/color-and-branding

Spectrophotometers Help Control Deodorant and Antiperspirant Stick Color Consistency

For the last thirty-five years, my aunt and uncle have been building a life and love together. By now, their patterns are long established. Settled and in their grooves, they resist any change that might disturb their comfortable routines. The last time I visited was evidence of this; I listened to them argue for a solid hour over a stick of deodorant. My uncle insisted that my aunt bought the wrong stick. My aunt insisted it was the same. My uncle disagreed. My aunt refused to go back to the store. My uncle refused to put on the deodorant. My aunt insisted he use the deodorant because it was the same. My uncle insisted it wasn’t, and that if my aunt wanted him to wear deodorant, she needed to go back to the store to get the right kind. My aunt refused but insisted he wear the deodorant. They repeated these points until it was time for lunch.

 

Deodorants on a shelf
Instead of choosing from dozens of brands every time they go to the store, customers often default to the same deodorant over and over again. Image Credit: Flickr User Clean Wal-Mart (CC BY 2.0)

 

Color Consistency Is Essential to Maintaining Deodorant Brand Loyalty

 

Consistency is important to people purchasing consumable products. Over the course of years of repeated purchases, customers grow accustomed to the particular brand they’re used to purchasing. They know which stick of deodorant they like. Instead of making a new decision every time they go to the store, they choose the same stick over and over again.

 

For deodorant manufacturers, this is a double-edged sword. Cutting one way, this means that brand loyalty will be strong and that customers can recur for decades. Cutting the other way, this means that the product must always be consistent. Changes to the formula of a deodorant or antiperspirant stick will be noticed by consumers. If the product they’re purchasing no longer seems to be the product they like, they may rethink their decision and switch to a different brand.

 

Manufacturers are aware that the color of a stick of solid deodorant is determined by the addition of a few colorants late in the mixing process, and that it has little to do with the efficacy of the product. The average customer, however, only sees the finished product, not the process. To them, a difference in a stick’s color is more noticeable than other changes in formula, and an indicator that other changes may also have occurred. In short, to a customer, two sticks of deodorant that are exactly the same except for color are two entirely different sticks.

 

woman putting on deodorant
Not all customers understand the intricacies of the formulation—or usage—of deodorant & antiperspirant. Image Credit: Flickr User Toby Bradbury (CC BY 2.0)

 

Spectrophotometers Deliver Repeatable Color Quality Control Results

 

So, color consistency is a serious concern for manufacturers of solid deodorants and antiperspirants. That’s why rigorous color quality control and quality assurance processes have been implemented across the industry. In company quality control laboratories, manufacturers test each batch of deodorant with spectrophotometers to ensure that the final color meets standards before it is shipped. They also conduct quality assurance studies using spectrophotometers to ensure that their processes consistently result in correctly colored deodorant.

 

Spectrophotometers are essential instruments for color quality control. By measuring light reflected off opaque substances, such as deodorant, they can generate objective, repeatable reports on that substance’s color. These instruments are significantly more effective than human observers. Human observation is subjective, varying from person to person and from day to day. Humans can also be thrown off by differences in lighting, which spectrophotometers control for with standard illumination settings. Finally, while humans lack specific language for describing small color differences, spectrophotometers generate numerical results. These numerical descriptions allow manufacturers to establish precise tolerances for acceptable deodorant color, that are repeatable across an enterprise and over decades.

 

With over 65 years of experience developing spectrophotometers to measure the color of deodorant and other products, HunterLab intimately understands the industry’s demands. Whether you’re considering upgrading outdated color measurement technology or improving your color quality control process, HunterLab has the experience, tools, and knowledge to help. To learn more, contact the color measurement experts today.

 

Color Quality Control for Traffic Signs Can Be Accomplished with Spectrophotometers

My driving habits changed when I got my commercial driver’s license. I started parallel parking like I was shooting pool. I slowed way down. And I started paying much more attention to traffic signs. Large vehicles react more slowly than smaller ones. An accident involving a large vehicle will be more serious. To drive safely, I needed to make decisions well ahead of time. With my attention divided between the condition of my vehicle, other vehicles, pedestrians, road conditions, and navigation, I needed to quickly and easily identify traffic signs. Color differences and reflectivity of signs made this possible. Without them, the roads would be far less safe to drive.

 

yellow signs
Warning signs are color coded to keep motorists safe. Image Credit: Flickr User Jay Galvin (CC BY 2.0)

 

Retroreflective Sheeting for Traffic Signs Must Meet Federal Color Standards

 

For this reason, traffic signs must conform to the standards established by the Federal Highway Administration1 regarding color and reflectivity. So, manufacturers of retroreflective sheeting for traffic signs must meet rigid color control standards. Whether supplying client companies or the next division of a vertically integrated company, color quality control is an essential stage of traffic sign manufacturing.

 

This is a matter of simple dollars and sense. In either case, rejections at delivery costs more than problems corrected on the production floor. Not only are time and materials wasted, but so are delivery costs and the energy needed to run the machinery. For busy shops, the capacity lost to rework comes with an opportunity cost as well. That time could have been used to fill a new, profitable contract.

 

Highway signs
Highway signs must conform to federal color standards. Image Credit: Flickr User Doug Kerr (CC BY 2.0)

 

Spectrophotometers Accomplish Objective Color Assay

 

Fortunately, the color standards do not rely on subjective, human analysis. When it comes to communicating precise differences in the shades of objects, human language lacks the necessary precision. To improve on our imperfect color description abilities, scientists back in the early 1930’s developed a method to correlate the human perception of color to the instrumental measurement of light in terms of the primary colors Red, Green, and Blue.  This allows an instrument to measure reflected light and provide numerical coordinates. As a result, acceptable tolerances for the colors of traffic signs can be objectively quantified.

 

Few people would claim to be able to look at a color and describe it numerically. A spectrophotometer is designed to do exactly that. As each sheet is extruded, spectrophotometric analysis can determine whether or not it will meet color tolerance standards. If sheets that do not meet standards are being produced at a growing rate, despite adherence to established formulas, managers should inspect their process to discover the problem. Doing so can lead to increased efficiency or adjustments in formulas.

 

old stop sign
Looks like someone was in a hurry. Image Credit: Flickr User GizmoDoc (CC BY 2.0)

 

Choosing the Right Instrument for the Job

 

The effects of texture play a large role in spectrophotometric assay. With retroreflective sheeting, the 45/0 geometry is the prescribed method and the ColorFlexEZ has been chosen by many manufacturers to check their production. The ColorFlexEZ has built in the special retroreflective trapezoidal acceptance tolerancing capability.  

 

With over sixty years of industry experience, the technicians at HunterLab have worked extensively in the color measurement of reflective materials. To learn which spectrophotometer would be best for your process, contact the experts at HunterLab today.

 

  1. “STOPsigns and More Product Info,” 2017, http://www.stopsignsandmore.com/t-product-info.aspx

Colorimetric Scores: Making Sure Your Tomatoes Make the Grade

The bright red color of the tomato can tell us a lot about quality and nutrition.

Color terminology has been changing; what we once called red is now referred to as magenta. Well, you know how the song goes: “you say tomato; I saw tomahto.” However, when it comes to color there is only one standard by which to abide.

Colorimetric scores are an important component for quantifying color in order to create the measurements needed to relate product quality to a grading scale. These scores have been developed through extensive research and analysis of tomato products at various stages of production to ensure color consistency and maturity. Various colorimetric methods and spectrophotometers have been used to revolutionize the tomato industry and lead to higher standards in all tomato-based products. Continue reading

Color Perception Meets Consumer Desires: How to Set the Mood with the Hues of Food

Color perception is the link between how the human eye perceives color and the way the brain processes that information to affect our moods and choices. Scientific research in the area of color perception has revealed that there is a great variation between how each individual sees and views color, yet our brains continually process this information in relatively the same way. The way that humans perceive color plays an important role on the choices we make, especially when it comes to our food selections.

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