Interviews with the experts- National Zipper Day Series #2
YKK produces 582 standard colors. About 10 million colors have been registered worldwide. Robin Barnhill, Dye Lab Manager, shared her insight into her department’s role in the overall production of zippers.
How long have you been working at YKK? 11 years
Briefly describe a typical work day: Customers are our top priority so reviewing new shade requests and revising dye recipes to run for the day is first. Up next is reviewing shades from production to make sure shades are repeating well, and any slight modifications needed to dye recipes are updated. The Dye Lab reviews any material loss removed during the dye process due to shade defects in order to determine root cause and corrective action. Dye Lab technicians perform about 100 tests per day for quality assurance. Our technicians also set up color tables for any newly approved shades for USA production or requests from Sales for combination colors. The Dye Lab is the center for color control so throughout the day we review issues from manufacturing, such as slider matches or Vislon assembly parts compared to element. At the end of the day, submission packages are prepared to send to customers.
What is your department in charge of? The Dye Lab performs all end item testing related to chemical applications within the dye process (water repellency, flame retardancy, colorfastness) as well as color development, matching new shades at customer request. We research and test all new chemicals and process changes for dye production in order to reduce losses and improve quality and cost efficiency.
What is your favorite part of your job? I love that my job is very challenging. Our zippers are used in so many different markets, some of which have critical color requirements. Sometimes specific dye formulations or special testing are developed to verify we meet those requirements. Many customers are continuously changing the way they evaluate color so we have to be proactive in our approach to improve our color accuracy and repeatability.