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Narich specialises in creating simple solutions for sometimes complex problems using non destructive light and spectral techniques

Monday, May 25, 2015

Colour Measurement and Eskom "Load Shedding"

South Africans will know that Load Shedding is our local quaint name for planned unplanned power failures. How does this effect you?

If you are a user of our Konica Minolta CM3600d or A Series Bench Tops or the Konica Minolta CM-5 Bench top spectrophotometers, how does this affect you?

Typically, if a PC and software is involved, surge protection and a UPS system will be required in any case. The CM-5 range however can work as stand alone models using their own firmware, but again as they are mains powered, a UPS system is recommended. This is more to protect the instrument from power surges than anything else, as UPS system are expensive and their useable working time is often quite short.

As it seems that the power issue is here for quite some time, we have another option: Both Bench Top Instrument types have portable hand held versions as well, which run on batteries. Contrary to what some may believe, the quality of these portables are of the highest standard, with specifications similar to that of their bench top versions. You can confirm both the CM3600d and CM-5 portable version specifications by comparing the catalogues of both versions.

The number of estimated measurements on battery is quite good, well enough for the two hour load shedding periods. An AC mains adaptor is also available for the portables should you wish to save a bit on battery life during normal power supply hours.

We have a number of customers who happily mix Bench Top and Portable in the same circle of application, and you have the added benefit of Field (At the customer) measurements as well.

Meat and Colour. Is Red the only Game in Town?

A lot has been said and written about the artificial colouring of meat either by some chemical treatment or trick lighting at the point of sale. While certain colourant's can be measured and tracked by their colour characteristics, and even light sources screened for "Unfair" or  "Flattering" lighting (Imagine if Hollywood was not allowed to cheat!) there are many more things Spectroscopy can do to evaluate or categorise output from your local butcher.

It has long been known that the composition of animal feeds can affect the colour of meat, which in turn can have a relationship with fat content, the type of fat content, and eventually health and even flavour outcomes.

Dr Cobus Ferreira completed a study in 2014 which demonstrates these assumptions, particularly with relation to Pork meat. it was found that Pork quality can be improved upon when using a natural feed additive CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid).

Details of the study cane be found here.Study details

You will notice that colour measurements were carried out with our Konica Minolta Chroma Meter CR400.

This instrument is one of the most used colour measurement devices in food research, partly due to its accuracy, reliability and affordability. Backward compatibility for 20 years also makes this model a very valuable research tool.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Colour Grading of Grain Flour - Wheat

A number of professions claim old age in their pedigree, but few have a better claim than Wheat Millers. Since farming crops became one of the first global addictions, bread flours have been milled to create flavour, texture, quality and ascetic appearance.

While today a minute portion of the crop is milled by Artisan Bakers, the vast majority globally is milled by large industrial groups using similar processes and equipment.

Like Fish, Bread whiteness increases the value of flour based baked products, but there is an industrial equation of time versus whiteness which has to be balanced. Added to this, over milling reduces the food value of flour.

In the 1950's scientists began to use Spectroscopy to try and standardise flour grades. The theory was good, but in practice, instruments were unreliable, the measurement fiddly and inter-instrument agreement near impossible.

This gave birth to the so called "Ring Test" where batches from various sources could be correlated to a "Known" standard (Actually and arbitrarily selected standard) and the various batch readings "Adjusted" (Corrected) accordingly. Never satisfactory, this type of procedure lasts up to the present day, although proper colour measurements have been carried out for decades by some Millers in some countries.

Konica Minolta Spectrophotometer CM-5

Some years back, South African Millers were fined for "Collusion" and while the merits of this is for another discussion, company's became weary of all using the same technology. This became the perfect time to introduce STANDARDISED rather than same systems to confirm with managements desire to be seen to be working above board.

Simply put, if millers could all use Kg to designate the weight of the packaging, the CIE L*a*b colour space norms could be used as well. A global colour standard, CIE is an independently controlled colour standard.

Years of research and tests carried out locally in South Africa validated that a mill can reliably across a number of mills, quickly and accurately grade batches to known "Standards".

To day this is a widely used accurate practice for precise and communicable colour grading data

As us for more at www.narich.co.za

Worried about the colour of the Bun in the Oven?

Baking Consistency is highly desired by Industrial Bakers, as well as my old Gran. Taste, texture and time were all critical to her, but nothing ruined her apple tart or shortbread bake was a dark sign of scorching, or worse, a pasty undercooked ghost of perfect article. So daunting was this task that my mother was reluctant to even try and compete, Enter the Industrial "Home" Bake.

Today, we can manage 100 metre long continuous ovens with process controls that both measure the colour of the bake, as well as adjust speed and temperature. Typically however these bespoke installations don't adhere to international standards.

Enter the Konica Minolta Colorimeter BC-10

Global food brands require consistency not over months of production, but over many plants in many countries. Globalisation offers a known version of your favourite burger any where in the world, and the price for this is standardisation.

With the BC-10, one can monitor and control the colour of baked, fried, smoked and processed foods as well as ingredients in various environments to ensure consistency in appearance. It is the ideal solution for multi-plant, multi-lined companies, co-packers and restaurant chains that seek enhanced consistency and quality of their products' appearance.
Besides the crust colour, the BC-10 measures colour on all kind of bakery and snack food products, yeast, brown sugar, calcium propionate, and flour blending.
The BC-10 is very simple to use, compact and light-weight, battery-operated and can display the measured values in Baking Contrast Units (BCU), a standard grading scale in the baking industry, or classic CIELAB colour values.

Hey Farmers - What's Colour have to do with your Crop?

Farmers more than anyone feel the pressure to improve their farming methods more than ever before.

Larger farms, less labour, increased productivity, reduced prices and green sustainable practices seem to be a set of contradictions that can be resolved.

Soon after the widespread introduction of fertilisers, it became clear that less is more, because more was running over as excess into water systems, rivers and reticulation plants. But how much fertiliser is the correct amount.

Scientists were able to calculate how much of a particular chemical was the correct dose for a particular crop under laboratory conditions, but what about on the actual farm. Soon Chemical Mapping became a necessary tool to understand the ever varying land, even on a single modest farm.

Further research found a direct link between Chlorophyll content in the plant and its health. By measuring the RVI or Ratio Vegetative Index, plant leaf health can be determined. Part of the determination is a lack of Nitrates.

With this information, and a chemical map of the land, as well as the known properties of the actual fertiliser being used. it is possible to manage accurate dosage quickly, reliably and efficiently.

The Konica Minolta Chlorophyll Meter SPAD-502 Plus is the local Benchmark for this application, and is our most sold colour measurement instrument. used by farmers, fertiliser manufacturers and crop researchers the SPAD 502 is a rapid reliable and rugged tool for both field and laboratory work.
Sold, supported and serviced by Narich (Pty) Ltd, you can be sure of optimum farming at all times.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Decorative Coatings - The colour they have or the colour you want?

There was a time when we all rushed how to watch a particular TV show on a particular station at a specified time. Time was suspended, we ate cold food and restaurants shut for the evening. To day its possible to watch what you want, when you want on whatever device you want.

So why is it still so hard to decorate your house with the exact colour you want, rather than the "Trend Colour" your favourite paint supplier wants to supply you?

Going back to Grandads day, when paint was protective rather than decorative, only a few colours were available. "British Museum Green", "Swedish Yellow" etc. The focus was on chemistry rather than colour.

As the world of colour evolved, colour TV, Colour Newspapers and well, everything colour, consumers started demanding more from their paint suppliers.

Typically, tastes may differ regionally, and even in one country like South Africa, coastal tastes may differ to inland preferences, so manufacturers were faced with a challenge.

Do you pre-manufacture thousands of colours in small volumes and store these around the country "Just in case", or a better idea, allow local outlets like Hardware Stores formulate the colour on demand from the consumer.

This lead to manufacturers shipping un-coloured '"Paint" to a Point of Sale" (POS) as well as smaller volumes of colour concentrate. As the concentrates were standardised, the POS also received a set of cardboard "Colour cards" or a current palette range, as well as a related fixed formulation to repeat the colour on the card.

This process has served us well for the past 30 years or so, but it has its limitations. Say a concentrate varies from batch to batch, what happens to the formula? Say you want a colour not catered for in the many cards. Say you don't have half a morning to sift through "Fifty shades of Gray" to find the correct colour. Say you and your interior decorator take forever to visualise the finished effect?

Like my Toyota Corolla, you tend to hand on to things that work well. Eventually however, new technology will eventually disrupt the "Status Quo" and this is now the case.

Enter the Portable Spectrophotometer.

Expanding on the existing process, a portable instrument is now reliable enough, and affordable enough to measure your colour, either at the POS outlet, or even in your home. (Yes you can match the exact colour to the wall just trashed by the furniture movers!).

  • The procedure is: Measure your colour.
  • Feed the data to your paint suppliers Central Data Base
  • Create a formulation ON THE FLY
  • Dispense the formulation to the quantity required
  • pay the man and go home and paint.
Pie in the sky? On the 27th of March we demonstrated this process to one of the largest local manufacturers on THEIR equipment.

Ask us for more details here.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Controlling Colour Across Multiple Platforms

More and More Corporates are realizing the power of colour and images in the Global Economy. A picture is says a thousand words, and in these time drought days, in a second. A well known Corporate Logo instantly conveys a message that pages of text can not match. 

Research reveals the power of Branding even to the extent that say a leading Automotive Brand will be more trusted on a garment than a non branded garment, even if the brand has almost no history in garment sales.

A growing problem is the proliferation of Iconography and the trade mark registration of even the smallest of company's is necessary. If your trade mark is going to be displayed on multiple substrates and media, you soon run into a couple of colour control issues. From a trade mark point of view, one tip is to register your logo in black and white. It firstly protects the shape or design, and secondly you can specify any or many colours at a later stage without the fear of being rushed into a bad specification.

Colour is a sense and is not a property of the object, but the outcome of the context of viewing the object under known conditions. To provide a reproducible (In the real world) colour it must be described in an acceptable International Norm Colour Space like for instance CIE L*a*b.

If your Logo is going to be displayed in print, on plastic, on metal, card board, TV advertisements and back lit screens, a unique specification is required for each context.There also has to be an agreed tolerance of colour difference with your suppliers which ensures that if your branded truck is seen parked next to a bill board advertising your products, the viewer's sense of the colour is always the same. Confused colour messages hugely dilute the VALUE of the brand which is considered to be your most valuable intangible asset.

Typically, multiple suppliers will use multiple methods to create their customers colour work. From rough eye approved methods to sophisticated Spectrophotometer quality assurance will result in a varying palette of shades across the range. The suppliers are also potentially separated by large distances making Precise Colour Communication difficult.

Fortunately today sophisticated software is available to manage both the specification and control of colour, as well as the issue of multiple suppliers. This is available here and now.