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Datacolor/AAPN webinar explores digital color management evolution

Posted August 12, 2021


By Devin Steele


Today, Datacolor, a Trusted Partner of the Americas Apparel Producers Network (AAPN), hosted a virtual event, "Color Evolution Physical to Digital – Building Trust, Saving Cost, Shortening the Supply Chain.”


During the discussion, which attracted 249 registrants, panelists that included brands and suppliers dispensed information about the latest color technology tools and how the benefits of moving to a digital color management workflow are being realized – accelerated during the pandemic.


Moderator Ken Butts, global key account team manager at Datacolor, set the stage by explaining the process of visual vs. digital color workflow and noting that at the onset of COVID, it became nearly impossible for a colorist to meet with a supplier.


“Whereas it might have been impractical or difficult to travel to anywhere in the world, all of a sudden it became impossible,” he said. “Not only that, but people were no longer in the office, and you don’t have access to a light cabinet, if you have one, and you don’t have access to a spectrophotometer, if you have one. We were caught in a situation where color must still be developed, reviewed and approved, but there really wasn’t an effective or efficient way to do that.


“So what have people in the retail and apparel industry done?” he continued. “How have they resolved that problem in a process that they’ve become accustomed to following for 20 years and have it all of a sudden turned on its head? And how do we move forward?”


Karen McGhee, senior manager of Color Forecasting and Execution at Walmart, explained that at the start of the crisis, it became apparent that electronic color was the only answer for the global retailer.


“That eliminated a substantial portion of the physical samples, cutting time and action for the labs, the supplier community and us,” she said, adding that a third-party lab handles its initial color testing. “Turnaround now on electronic lab dips is about 24 hours. That’s pretty standard for a supplier to submit and get an answer back. This has also provided significant increased visibility to all parties, too.”

McGhee fully explained how the process now works and how digitization of color evaluation is becoming the norm.


Later joining the conversation were panelists Tim Williams, marketing manager at Color Solutions International (CSI), which supplies Walmart and may others its ColorFlow® digital color workflow tool; and Andrew Fraser, director of global quality control at LKH Sourcing, a Walmart services supplier.

AAPN board member Linda Tiberi, principal at Tiberi Global Solutions, served as host for the network.


Watch the presentation here.

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