We love having visitors at our head office in Wales (UK) and when we take a tour of the factory, visitors normally ‘ooh and ahh’ and the same points. The depth of colour, the beauty of dry pigment, the care with which our colour swatches are produced and the power of our three roll mills being the usual triggers for obvious delight.

One of the things in our journey however that prompts expressions of surprise is the way in which we are seemingly forever taking readings and measurements.

To make beautiful paints and inks, quality has to be at the centre of all we do. A factory tour therefore allows us to highlight the role of measurement in ensuring quality, consistency and (when required) further improvement and enhancement. Visitors want to know how quality can be measured and by whom – and how the information is used.

So we measure everything… and where possible this is done using instrumentation that can be calibrated. Viscosity, tack, colour, drying time, lightfastness and pigment grind all being examples of facets we can measure objectively….

…but one of the tests that remains subjective is the issue of smell or odour. Mercifully there are several dedicated and trustworthy Cranfield noses with many years of experience to comment on smell!

What we are on the lookout for is significant change in the odour of our raw materials and to do this we use chocolate!

Yes; chocolate absorbs volatile compounds easily so to compare odour we follow a remarkably simple process involving a bar of chocolate, a small piece of printed or painted paper and several jam jars! Since all materials have some odour our aim is to detect anything that is stronger than normal, unusual or unpleasant. Leave the samples in the jar with the chocolate and seal it tight for 24 hours. Then call for the nose!

And whilst no nose has yet been independently tested and calibrated, we do take care of them, send them (and the owners on vacation) and make sure that none are left unattended on the premises overnight….