The Benefits of Digital Color Management

The apparel industry is currently undergoing a significant technological shift. A new wave of sophisticated supply chain management solutions is addressing longstanding challenges across the supply chain in areas like quality management, production tracking, and compliance. With the help of these technologies, brands are enhancing their agility, gaining a much clearer view of their global supply networks, and reacting more effectively to market demands. 


A long-standing challenge in the apparel manufacturing process has been color management. The traditional approach to achieving the desired color for a product has been both time-consuming and inefficient, often without guaranteeing that the intended color will be achieved at the end of the process. 


However, this is changing as new technologies specifically target and resolve color-related issues, thereby accelerating the process. These supply chain management solutions are turning the tide in color management, offering a quicker, more reliable route to the desired result. By implementing a digital color management solution, apparel brands gain multiple benefits, from cost and time savings to increased product consistency. This gives them a competitive edge in an already densely populated industry. 


The Traditional Color Management Process 


In the traditional color approval and evaluation process, the brand first determines a target color for a production run and communicates this to their supplier. The supplier then prepares a lab dip (a small sample/swatch of color) that matches the proposed target color and sends it to the brand for evaluation. This process often does not end with the first attempt. Typically, multiple approval cycles are needed; suppliers and the brand send multiple lab dips back and forth until they reach a consensus that the desired color has been accurately replicated. 


This iterative process not only incurs significant shipping costs due to the geographical distance between the brand’s hub and factories, but also leads to considerable time wastage. The process is riddled with inefficiencies, consuming valuable resources. Despite the extensive effort, the end result might fall short of the initial color target. This failure to achieve the desired outcome after a resource-intensive process underlines the urgent need for a more efficient and reliable solution for color management. 


Observer Metamerism 


The most significant challenge with traditional color management processes is the heavy dependence on subjective assessments. Brands typically use a visual assessment to determine whether a lab dip is indeed the correct color, a method that is often highly unreliable. 


The problem with this approach primarily lies in a phenomenon known as observer metamerism: color that seems accurate under a certain light might not appear the same in another environment or under different lighting conditions. This emphasizes the inherent flaw in relying solely on visual assessments for color approvals – the human eye simply isn’t enough to determine with accuracy whether the desired color has been met. There’s a clear need for a more objective, reliable approach to color management and color quality control.  


The Digital Color Management Process 


As mentioned, the apparel industry’s landscape is being transformed by new technologies, streamlining supply chain operations, and enhancing global network visibility. Like these supply chain management solutions, digital color management software is entering the market to alleviate the pain points commonly associated with traditional color management. 


Unlike the conventional process where lab dips are physically shipped back and forth, a digital color management solution allows lab dips to be uploaded and evaluated digitally using spectral data. Software like ColordesQ, can determine if the target color has been achieved using information provided by spectral data through QTX files. This approach eliminates guesswork and transitions color matching from a subjective to an objective process, with visual assessments serving as additional verification. 


Benefits of Digital Color Management 


The adoption of a digital color management solution offers several tangible benefits. First, it saves thousands of days in the process, as there are no lab dip shipments to be sent back and forth. Instead, the color quality control solution can quickly determine if the target color has been met or not and communicate the findings to the brand. The significant reduction in courier shipments also save the brand money, as up to 80% of the costs associated with physical lab dips in the traditional process are gone. 

Second, digital color management improves the “right-first-time” rate. Brands are more likely to achieve their desired color on the first try, eliminating the need for repeated approval cycles. Additionally, the transition to digital significantly reduces the carbon footprint associated with traditional color approval processes, contributing to a more sustainable and eco-friendly supply chain. 


ColordesQ: A Pioneer in Digital Color Management 


As one of the leading solutions in this domain, ColordesQ revolutionizes the color management process. By offering an objective, data-driven approach, ColordesQ enables brands to implement greater color consistency and color quality control across their manufacturing processes. From job creation, lab dip submission, production runs, to approvals, ColordesQ supports supply chain participants every step of the way.


Digital color management has the potential to revolutionize the apparel industry by enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, and promoting sustainability. With the adoption of technologies like ColordesQ, brands can bypass the limitations of traditional color management, and achieve greater color consistency and accuracy. As the industry becomes increasingly digitized, embracing digital color management is not just an option, but a necessity for the forward-thinking apparel brand. 

The Benefits of Digital Color Management
Triple Tree Solutions
Published 19 July 2023

Further Reading