Quality Magazine

Case Studies: Color Measurement Improves With New Technology

December 1, 2005
The VeriColor system detects subtle color differences, regardless of ambient light conditions and manufacturing environment. Source: X-Rite

For Magna Donnelly (Troy, MI), production downtime is an unacceptable option to meet customer deadlines for finished product. With more than 25,000 mirrors produced daily, or one every second, just minutes of downtime due to inaccurate color verification can cost the company time and money. Most production downtime was attributed to color verification, according to Steve Gidaro, equipment engineer for Magna Donnelly's Alto, MI plant.

Color verification begins with the supplier's own operations. A single

subassembly-such as a door handle, mirror, interior door panel, or instrument panel may consist of multiple parts, and the color of each part must be correct or the assembled unit will be rejected. Color verification technology is used to ensure that all parts are the proper color before they are assembled. Then, using scheduling information from the OEM, color verification technology is used to sort and package finished subassemblies or individual parts into shipping containers for delivery to the OEM in proper sequence for final vehicle assembly.

At Magna Donnelly, each mirror color must be a perfect match to the vehicle.

"Before VeriColor, we used a complex camera-based color verification system on our production lines," Gidaro says. "It was not designed for the industrial environment and had trouble telling the difference between subtle color shifts. This forced us to shut down production lines when an inaccuracy was discovered during final quality assurance."



The VeriColor system industrial grade sensor performs noncontact measurement. Source: X-Rite

In 2003, Gidaro installed a test bed VeriColor system on one production line, an industrial-grade color sensor from X-Rite Inc. (Grandville, MI) that accurately detects the most subtle color differences, regardless of ambient light conditions and manufacturing environment. It protects against the metameric "mismatches" that result in mistaken color identity.

The first system contained two sense heads and a data hub. The rugged sensor heads can be connected one to a hub or installed in a series, up to six per hub. Sensor heads are designed to stand up to repetitive stresses of position and inspect systems. The modular hub unit can be rack mounted up to 75 feet from the sensor heads.

After a couple weeks of running VeriColor on the production line, Gidaro noticed critical differences between VeriColor and existing systems. "We have been investigating color verification systems for over five years, and nothing was as accurate as the VeriColor system," Gidaro says. "We immediately installed VeriColor systems to additional lines. Our operators love it. For them it means no false downtime and higher quality output."

With high-resolution color sensing technology, the system detects subtle color differences on various surfaces and prevents false matches. The VeriColor system stores information for 50 active colors at once, eliminating the need for constant color reprogramming and enables users to verify color across an entire product palette. The system can withstand heat, cold, humidity, shock and contaminants typical of industrial production environments. Operators can configure the system manually or by using the Windows-based software, which offers multiple format options

"Noncontact measurement is possible because, unlike laboratory-grade spectrophotometers and many industrial color sensors, the VeriColor system is unaffected by ambient light," says Brian Teunis, X-Rite's category director of color and appearance. "This means accurate, repeatable measurements can be obtained under typical production lighting conditions."

According to Gidaro, the reduction in downtime alone has already paid for Magna Donnelly's investment in the VeriColor system.



Benefits

• The VeriColor system is a noncontact device and is tolerant of depth fluctuations, surface curves and irregularities.

• Able to distinguish thousands of colors, the VeriColor system stores information for 50 active colors at once, eliminating the need for constant color reprogramming and enables users to verify color across an entire product palette.

• The system can withstand heat, cold, humidity, shock and contaminants typical of industrial production environments.

• Operators can configure the system manually or by using the Windows-based software, which offers multiple format options.



X-Rite Inc.

(800) 248-9748

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www.xrite.com