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Then & Now

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It was nearly 30 years ago and before the Internet, that we started developing a batching process called Stik-Address, a print offer aimed at print shops and a way of producing mini labels multi-up on a sheet. Orders came in by fax and had to be keyed on to a template and

as soon as 48 order units were added. The System batched the labels up so that they could be litho printed on pre kiss cut stock. Atour peak we were producing around 200 orders a day together with the shop’s delivery label, thus matching label to delivery and avoiding incorrect deliveries.

This became the basis for the batch printing system that we built into our software right from the start. Successful batching is the reason that the template information had to ‘then and now’ be precise as jobs are automatically sorted into their unique attributable batches.


Batch printing became the basis for much of the cheap litho print offerings but very few of these systems are, even now, attached to front end ordering. We always saw the importance of having a seamless workflow from user design and ordering right through to despatch, on a fully automated basis. With this workflow we are able to handle an unlimited number of orders, many more than the 1000+orders a day we are currently producing.

Some three years ago and in conjunction with specialist consultants we added the lean manufacturing process which looked at your entire digital print production so that we could set up efficient batch control. Its thinking showed us how to organise all batches in strict despatch order and how to stock up with “justin time” materials and schedule staff for eachdays production.

The results of the implementation of lean were significant; less stressed staff, meeting all deadlines (a countdown screen is usually down to zero by mid-afternoon avoiding the end of day panics!) spot on accuracy, a reduction in wastage and of greatest importance workflow that our customers can rely on every single time they use us!

THEN – Email Approval Madness

In the early days, if customers needed approval of the job they had edited and ordered, on line, it was a simple matter of the customer sending an email with a copy of the finished product to the approver.

This more manual process actually worked well as it was such an improvement over what was the previous off-line process even though an edited page could take well over two minutes to refresh!

The next stage was to automate the process by providing an email option on check-out, where the customer would add the email address of the approver who would return the email with either the go ahead or suggested amendments.

NOW – Well Oiled Workflows

Since we have introduced the fully automated approver system its use has grown dramatically.

When users or products are set up a workflow can be added with a notification that is sent to a designated approver to check and authorise an order. Several approvers can be added so, for instance, a Marketing manager can approve the design whereas a line Manager can sign off the expenditure.

There is no limit to the number of workflows and they can take place concurrently or sequentially. Approvers can not only approve the order but can also modify or cancel the design themselves and an audit trail is kept of every action.


THEN – Software and the difficulties of outsourcing print

When we first started out 20 years ago investing in software was an expensive venture so we decided to put most of our funds into internet software which was still relatively new.

We had set ourselves up in London and the plan was to outsource the system created batch printing to a local digital printer via ISDN who would then print them the next day ready for us to pick up and finish. Little did we know how anti printers would be to our proposal! Thankfully we found a printer as forward thinking as ourselves who couldn’t turn down new technology and who took up our offer.

There was still a lot suspicion towards digital printing and its capabilities. Our aim was to show our customers how seamless our workflow was from ordering right through to getting the job through the door. Eventually more customers came onboard and we were soon receiving positive feedback based on our mutual successes. This perseverance for both the internet and digital printing gave us great expansion possibilities


NOW – Everything in house – software and print (Going Solo)

Things then started to move fast; we had already relocated once to be next to our partnered supplier but it was not long before they couldn’t keep up with our demand. It was now time for us to invest in our own production capabilities, so we took the plunge and purchased our first Indigo press along with some finishing equipment.

It was not long before we also needed larger premises and were fortunate enough to find a new location in Central London that was part of the major Arsenal stadium redevelopment which gave us a blank canvas to fit out our factory to the specifications we required.

Our software now branded Cognitu became much more sophisticated, with greater scope for marrying it with print and thus creating our hybrid model. Now the factory is a model of automation and mass production often producing over 1,000 orders a day which leave us on time every time.



Then – What You See Is What You Get

The holy grail of online design and editing has always been displaying actual fonts so that people could see exactly what they would have printed. You may be familiar with the term WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get. For all the pioneering web to print systems, apart from ours, this meant users would just see substitute fonts. Showing only positions not the real thing!20 years ago, through the ingenuity of our programmers, we discovered a unique way to show actual fonts right from the start. For many years we were the only system in the UK that employed this groundbreaking technology.

Now – Full Language Capabilities

Over the years we have been able to automatically scale text along with font handling to very accurately display on screen the final text output. We have always strived to keep our graphics technology ahead of the competition, so much so that seven years ago we added the capability of displaying Arabic fonts.Here we had to not only display right to left text but also recreate the ornate “joined up” flowing nature of the language. After Arabic the world was literally our oyster, with Cognitunow being able to cater for any language, such as Chinese, Russian, Mongolian and even some pretend ones like Klingon.


When 3 minutes* was acceptable

When the internet was first becoming viable for business in 1997 most connections were through just an 8k modem. At the time this was state of the art.

Print Evolved faced the challenge of a requirement for two-way communications in a world that was predominantly one-way, giving users the ability to edit and save their templates online. The Available Technology at the time struggled to handle data. Fortunately Print Evolved anticipated faster modems coming on stream in the not too distant future.

There were rapid developments with connection speeds which soon doubled to 16k, 32k, 64k and onwards. These modems, although laughably slow by today’s standards, were having a positive effect on users experience of the Internet. The three minute screen refresh times were decreasing, helping PrintEvolved’s business rapidly expand.

In the early two thousands, some five years after Print Evolved started their service, broadband came into commercial operation. This technology was made possible by using telephone lines to connect directly to the Internet. Broadband was going to be the answer!

Because of Print Evolved’s enthusiasm for new technology, they became one of the first adopters of broadband and were proud to be recruited into the government drive to research broadband and its potential in making the Internet accessible to all.


When 5 seconds is too slow!

Instant reaction is now the order of the day and Print Evolved’s systems response times keep up with the speed trends.

Print Evolved started with the emergence of cloud computing twenty years ago (First known as Application Service Provision – ASP) where the provider sold an all-in-one service rather than a program. This became possible because of the incredible networking capabilities of the Internet and meant speeds were not restricted by the hardware of the end user.

Using this new technology Print Evolved perfected their web2print technology Cognitu to capture customer orders and output print ready files, becoming one the first company to bring this technology to the industry.

Being cloud based not only increases speed but security and when credit card payments first became available over the Internet, there were initially fears about the security of this type of transaction. Print Evolved helped pave the way for acceptance of these types of payments by establishing the trust of its customers that security was paramount.

Print Evolved took on the challenge of persuading customers that, with common sense, online transactions, conducted with bona fide suppliers, were actually more secure than conventional credit card use.

One of the company’s core values is data security for both themselves and their customers.Keeping security up to date is of the utmost importance to Print Evolved who are already fully compliant with GDPR.