Point-of-Sale Tinting: Keys to setting up a system at an industrial coatings plant

June 20, 2017

Does it make sense to set up a point-of-sale (POS) tinting system in an industrial coatings plant? If the manufacturer only sells 10 colors in one or two bases, then probably not. If a company’s palette features 20 or more colors, and three or more bases are tinted, the answer is maybe, depending on the costs involved in setting up the system versus the benefits of moving to POS tinting.

However, if the manufacturer has a color palette of 30 or more tints and many bases, and supplies custom colors, then the answer is yes. 

First, determine which kind of dispenser works for the system, manual or automatic. Water-based colorants are compatible with either type, but solvent-based generally only use manual dispensers, unless the automated dispenser is retrofitted with components resistant to the solvents being used in the colorants. Manual dispensers are less expensive, but they are not as precise, and that can increase the chances of human error. Automated dispensers are controlled by software that reduces potential errors in tinting.

In theory, all dispensers are basically the same, but they do offer different designs and a variety of features. Work directly with a dispenser manufacturer to discuss which equipment would work best in a particular environment.

Most of the time, dispenser manufacturers have specific software packages that are used with their systems. However, third-party software companies can also have viable solutions.

There are many types of software that control point-of-sale tinting. In its most basic state, the software will tell the dispenser to create a specific color through predetermined formulas loaded into the software. This software is relatively simple, and not difficult to use. The more complex the software, however, the more difficult it is to learn.

More complex software packages allow industrial coatings manufacturers not only to dispense color but to match any color. These systems can also track colors sold, control color inventory and transfer information from one tinting center to another.

Colorants are key to any successful POS tinting system. They should be compatible with all base chemistries to ensure a good performance in every base.

Colorants must have a tight tint strength tolerance, less than +/- 2 percent, for example, and a color tolerance of less than 1.0 CIELAB units or lower. Tint strength variation will have a larger impact on the final color, and the tight strength tolerances lead to color consistency.

The colorants should be thixotropic, becoming thinner with shear. Thixotropic colorants have a higher viscosity when there is low or no shear applied.  Therefore, the colorants will not settle or separate due to higher viscosity when they are not being dispensed. However, when mixed, the viscosity decreases, and the colorants dispense easily and accurately.

Colorants also must be consistent from lot to lot and from year to year. Inconsistency leads to errors, especially when the same color is produced over a long period of time. Consistent colorants allow color formulas to remain viable without the need for adjustments.

Color formulas
A color database must be created before color formulas can be developed, and many colorant suppliers provide this service. Color formulas are developed from information stored in color databases, which allow the matching of custom colors. When a spectrophotometer is attached to the computer running the dispenser, this custom color is easily produced. These formulas can be stored in the software and can be called up to instantly produce any pre-matched color.

Benefits of POS tinting systems
The greatest benefit of POS tinting systems is inventory control. Colors can be produced only as needed and in the exact amount required, eliminating the stocking of colors that don’t sell. Reduced waste is another plus. Point-of-sale tinting systems cut down the amount of residual materials and cleaning chemicals left over after a large batch of colored paint is made. POS tinting also opens up a larger marketplace for industrial coatings companies. It is costly to produce five gallons of a specific color using in-plant tinting, but with point-of-sale tinting systems, it can be easily done at a much lower cost to the customer.

To learn more about how a point-of-sale tinting system can benefit your industrial coatings plant, visit www.chromaflo.com.

By Michael McCormick

Global Industry Manager, Industrial Coatings

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