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BASF Coatings uses artificial intelligence for color matching

By Tim Wright | October 30, 2008

BASF Coatings uses artificial intelligence for color matching

BASF Automotive Refinish Solutions has developed a software program that applies artificial intelligence using neural networks to the process of color matching paint. Developed by BASF's Craig McClanahan, manager of color research for BASF Coatings North America, this artificial intelligence was designed to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the color matching process. This software uses a machine-learning algorithm to achieve its color matching ability from previously developed color formulations. Standard color matching, on the other hand, relies on human trial and error.

"One of the significant elements of this artificial intelligence is that it takes color matching to a higher level with a greater degree of accuracy than ever before seen in the automotive refinish industry," said McClanahan. "It actually learns and gets better over time."

As BASF produces new color matches over time, the intelligent system learns from them; then automatically and exponentially applies that learning to the matching of new colors, resulting in improved color matching speed and precision.

"BASF is acknowledged by its customers as a color leader in the automotive refinish industry," said Darlene Eilenberger, director of marketing for BASF Coatings North America. "And each year our customers tell us that the single most important thing we can provide to them is a good color match. Through this new artificial intelligence, we achieve high quality color matches more than 90% of the time, versus the current industry standard of approximately 50%."

McClanahan and the artificial intelligence development team located in Whitehouse, OH, use information from BASF's globally integrated color laboratories around the world to "train" the artificial intelligence software with global BASF color-matching information. By the end of 2009, this artificial intelligence will contain color data from all ten BASF automotive refinish laboratories in Japan, Australia, China, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Spain, Italy and the U.S.

The artificial intelligence color matching system is already at work in five of BASF's global automotive refinish laboratories. During the next six months, McClanahan and Benjamin Delespierre from BASF in France will complete the roll out to the remaining global laboratories.

At this time, BASF's artificial intelligence color matching system is only used internally within BASF. In the future, BASF plans to offer this system to its global automotive refinish customers; and leverage the technology in the OEM coatings market.

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