I do not need a dye lab….. how wrong can you be?


Here are two questions for you:

1. Q. What level of Laboratory to Bulk reproducibility are you achieving? A. 30%, 50%, 80%, 90+% ?

2. Q. How confident are you to take a laboratory recipe and proceed into production? A. Completely Confident, Somewhat Confident, Not Very Confident?

I suspect that in the majority of cases, you may over estimate your answer to Q1, and your answer to Q2 is “not very”. If I am correct then please don’t worry – you are not alone in the industry with your answers :o)

The simple fact is that the textile coloration laboratory has always been seen as a necessary evil – a facility that has been created because it provides a standard the industry expects to see in a processing plant or dyehouse, but with the reputation of being poor value, and little better than useless: realistically, the laboratory is a cost centre that is required, but largely ignored.

This can mean that when clients are seeing new colours and suppliers have new dyestuffs and chemicals to use, it is often the case that production doesn’t have the time to deal with issues related to the introduction of new products and the process carries on as-is, in its current formulation.

The bottom line is though, that if new colour formulations do not go into production or new, more efficient products are ignored, this can reduce profitabliity. This is a mistake.

The simple fact is that a well-equipped laboratory, with well-trained staff, should be considered a vital part of your operation. If your company is willing to optimise the use of the laboratory in their processes, it will not only save you money but also attract new business and potentially increase profits.

By equipping your colour laboratory correctly and then employing and training your staff, you will: reduce the need for production additions and rationalise your process to help your organization meet the demands of the modern fast world of textiles.

Clients do not have the time to wait for you to take 10 -12 dyeings to get the shade correct and they certainly do not want to hear that it’s taking a bit longer in production because of quality or reprocessing issues: your clients will have people waiting at the next stage in the process or, even worse, they have empty warehouses and stores awaiting deliveries!

So back to Q1. What efficiency are you actually achieving from your laboratory to bulk in production? if it’s 80% or more – then CONGRATULATIONS! – with a few minor changes you should be able to get your results into the 90%+ area.

If its 60% or lower – OH NO! Do you realise you are doing the equivalent of throwing your money away?

What do you need to do to change?

Q2. How confident are you to take a laboratory recipe and proceed into production? If you answered “completely confident” – then you should give yourself a well deserved pat on the back: you are doing a great job!

If you chose any other answer – this is another situation where you are throwing your money away…. If you are here – then the good news is that, with some changes, you CAN make your organisation more efficient and profitable.

Coloursmith Ltd have performed many dye house audits and, after analysis, a significant finding is that the production department regularly change the recipe from the laboratory before proceeding to the next stage in the process. This change can be on average 10-15% on weight of fibre (owf) but changes as high as 45% have been recorded.

You ARE reading that correctly: the production department immediately changed the recipe by 45%. The consequence? They then spent the next 4 days doing corrections to get the dyeing to an acceptable standard for submission to the customer and in many cases, putting back the original change in the recipe. You have to ask yourself – why would you ever want to work in this way?

Working like this is certainly not profitable: the more you process and reprocess the product, the more the quality of your product you are delivering suffers. If your business model is to create a reprocessed, lower quality product (which we hope it isn’t!!!) then this is the blueprint to follow.

You may be asking yourself why an organisation would choose to work in this way and the simple answer comes down to history. In the past, the laboratory was not trusted due to low levels of training, low quality equipment and poor working practices. This is not the case today, in the modern, high spec lab that employs well qualified technicians, with a need to compete in a global marketplace – and it is time to retire the old mentality and traditional view on this vital part of the dyeing process.

By investing some time in your company, you can change the way your production team thinks and behaves, and it is absolutely possible to remove the laboratory stigma, and make it a vital and trusted part of your process and organisation.

We realise it is far easier to write that than to actually achieving it, but those forward thinking textile companies that have embraced the idea of the lab being the focal point of the operation, are achieving faster, cleaner production, and they are delivering high value, quality products.

The automotive and technical textile sectors have proved that getting the small things right will help you achieve process efficiencies of 95% or more, reducing the time to delivery, and increasing profits…….so maybe we should add another question to this article….

Q3. If these sectors can work with an efficient, profitable, trusted laboratory process – why can’t the apparel industry?


Coloursmith Ltd offer training courses and consultancy to the textile industry, including dye house audits, introducing best practice to the dye process, and lab to bulk reproducibility mentoring.

We also offer training courses for your buyers and garment technicians, to help you achieve effective colour communication and pass fail continuity, to gain time and cost efficiencies.

Contact us for more information: info@coloursmith.co.uk – we would be happy to discuss your requirements!


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