Woolworths took the decision to implement a print quality assurance programme based on the Mellow Colour methodology. This decision was based, in part, on the success of a similar programme that Marks and Spencer have run for the past seven years. Initially two of Woolworth’s print suppliers adopted the programme and the initial implementation was done this year.
This initial rollout was handled by Alan Dresch – the owner and founder of Mellow Colour in the UK – and assisted by DigitalView (the Mellow Colour partner for Southern Africa). One of these print companies is ITL. The Mellow Colour rollout to the printer is a two-staged implementation and ITL achieved Stage 2 last week. ITL is the first company in South Africa to achieve the ‘Mellow Colour ISO 12647-2 Proficient Printer’ as well as the ‘Mellow Colour ImpressionProof Certified Printer’ status. This means that ITL prints consistently above 80% compared to the ISO standard and can therefore submit job data online for virtual sign-off.
Although Woolworths’ decision to introduce this programme was based on the success achieved by Marks & Spencer in the UK, there were other important considerations:
1. Shorten product time to market: There are sometimes delays in the supply of marketing and packaging material due to quality and accuracy issues. The Mellow Colour programme is designed to assist printers to achieve standardisation and colour accuracy.
2. Reduce costs and reduce their carbon footprint: The need for excessive travel to print suppliers to sign off material adds significant costs to the cost of goods. Reducing the need to travel to suppliers for sign-off helps to save costs but also reduces their carbon footprint at the same time. Mellow Colour provides training and tools to enable print suppliers to upload jobs online, giving Woolworths the assurance that the job is printed to standard and can therefore issue virtual sign-off.
‘Quality is one of our core values at Woolworths – it’s what sets us apart. That’s why we take great pride in maintaining the highest level of print quality and colour management with our suppliers. To live up to these ideals, we’ve embarked on an exciting journey to become a top retailer in the Southern Hemisphere and to maintain the highest print precision quality across Australia and South Africa. Our target is to assist our preferred print supplier-base to reach a virtual sign-off process by June 2017. Our congratulations to ITL for their success in getting to this point,’ said Raven Gengiah, Woolworths Artwork Production Manager.
How Does Mellow Colour Work?
1. Training is the key: Printers who wish to implement the system, firstly undergo an audit of their plants to establish whether the correct tools and skills are in place to enable them to print to standard. Once this is done, recommendations are made on tools that may be needed to achieve quality goals. Once this has been taken care of, the next step is a comprehensive training of all staff involved in the production process. Standard operating procedures are drawn up by the customer for each section of production to ensure that they all delivers work that will ultimately result in product that conforms to the ISO standard for print.
2. Software tools: Mellow Colour produces a set of software tools to measure printed material and score it against the standard – the higher the score the closer the printed piece will be to matching the desired product specification. These tools also provide assistance in troubleshooting problems in production, making it easier to determine where issues are and how to remedy them.