Our customers often have both R&D and QA labs and the bigger the company the less likely they communicate with each other.
As most of our customers are large corporate manufacturers, these companies are often split into set divisions and silos leading to less communication between different departments. A further complication is that large companies may purchase by application and assume that only one type of instrument in the universe is suitable for that particular application.
At the other extreme, users, as well as middle and higher managers may assume that all Spectrophotometers are the same when this is just not the case in reality. Certain instruments are better suited for certain applications and purchasers should be aware of this.
What then is the truth in all these assumptions?
Most instrument manufacturers are obliged to deal with the three forces that drive sales:
- Performance (Features and Technical Performance)
- Quality (Reliability, Repeatability, Spares, Service, Support)
- Price (ROI, Longevity)
As it’s not possible to be all things for all applications, manufacturers tend to find niches for their products, often based on the original application they were successful with and some internal IP that others don’t have.
Konica Minolta Sensing have two main niches where their solutions lead the pack in terms of colour measurement.
- Farm to Fork Applications – Including raw materials, during production processing and as a final check.
Inter-Instrument agreement or the ability to compare results between multiple instruments with reliable reproducibility, is the key in implementing colour control across global, national, or multi-site operations where goods need to be compared.
Any supply chain where there are multiple suppliers, multiple customers or multiple manufacturing sites will benefit from this key feature.
2. Automotive – Including multiple suppliers where quality control adheres to the highest standards locally and globally.
In this industry Konica Minolta looked to provide application-centered solutions with unique design as well as leading IIA to compare suppliers quality and colours.
Konica Minolta through their business partnerships and acquisitions also introduced solutions for the entire automotive production process stretching across colour contro, light and display testing and advanced appearance measurement solutions.
If a company has R&D as well as QA labs, which instrument is the best choice?
Getting back to R&D and QA, do you need to have two instruments in each lab and do those instruments need to be different?
Our experience is that R&D tend to design a product to meet either internal or customer requirements, and tend not to use precise color measurement tools. Perhaps manufacturers allow the Quality Assurance department to set the standards but then how does R&D know they comply with these standards without a suitable instrument in their department.
We elaborate on another blog regarding the versatility of the CM-5/CR-5 Spectrophotometer in our key food sector, but it’s safe to say that the precise speciation could easily start at R&D, and then shared throughout the group, whatever size and reach it has.
Subsequently, checking product raw materials, production and actually shipped goods can all be checked under the same repeatable conditions.
Our core instruments for this group of applications are by design capable of measuring different phases of the process, from granular, powder, paste to finished goods, and their packaging. At each stage of the process, the same Instrument can measure different objects as they are converted.
In truth, it all depends on the company requirements and the objects that need to be measured. The R&D lab might be able to set standards on the QA instrument but this all depends on whether R&D measures similar objects. In some cases it is better for each site to have their own instrument or a collection of bench-top and portables to meet all requirements.