Sat, Jan

Going for gold

Phil Thompson, head of BPIF Business, talks us through ISO12647 – the Accredited Certification for Colour Quality

With the final stage of accreditation being carried out by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service(UKAS), the British printing industry will soon be able to offer customers a fully independent and UKAS accredited certification for colour quality management.

The BPIF has developed a UK Certification scheme for ISO12647 knowing that, as with quality and environmental standards, buyers will expect auditing and certification from UKAS accredited certification bodies when it comes to colour management. In response to customer demands, a number of UK printing companies are now working towards this standard, and the BPIF is working with both certification bodies and UKAS to enable companies to obtain this.

The new scheme is comprehensive, looking at pre-press, press and the final product. The aim was not only to create a workable and consistent process, but also to dramatically reduce production costs by reducing waste and makeready times. This has proved succesful as companies that have implemented the standard have realised significant financial benefits.

To realise these, the following areas will need to be addressed.


The commitment and drive of senior management of the organisation to improve the management of colour quality is essential to the success of the project.

For the first time, UK printers will be audited by a fully independent and accredited body on the quality of colour reproduction of their products. To reach the standards required, all of those involved in the process - not just colour specialists - and also senior management, need to be working to improve their processes, and providing the time and resource for this to happen.


Competence in colour management is the key to improving the colour quality of products and meeting the standards. Too many organisations place too much reliance on single individuals with technical knowledge. Colour competence needs to be spread through the organisation, and investment in the training of staff is critical.

Know the standard

Familiarity with the requirements of the ISO standard and the BPIF scheme are fundamental. Without understanding these in detail, the question of product compliance will be a difficult one for the organisation to deal with, particularly when questioned by customers or auditors.

Use the quality system effectively

Although not essential for the BPIF scheme, many printers will already have ISO 9001 systems in place to achieve continual improvement in quality. Yet many of these systems aren’t used effectively as tools to drive continual improvement, and if the 9001 system doesn’t work in an organisation, then the colour quality system won’t work either.

Measurement for improvement

Without constant measurement of product quality, organisations cannot determine how well they are doing, how effective are the actions they have taken and what areas need to be worked on to improve further. ISO 12647 is a standard built around measurement, so the organisation needs to be measuring its products routinely, and acting on the results.

Maintenance of equipment

Proper maintenance of all the equipment used in the process is essential. In particular printers/presses and measuring equipment need special attention to ensure that manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance are put into action. Inaccurate colour measuring equipment could be the difference between keeping a customer happy or losing them, so companies need to have a process for ensuring that their equipment is firstly, fit for purpose, and secondly, that its accuracy is tracked and maintained. Factors affecting its accuracy should be understood and acted on, to ensure that only colour compliant products are claimed as such.



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