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Supporting the demanding FMCG print sector 


Superior is one of the U.K.’s largest design, print and fulfilment companies, working everyday with major national and international brands including the demanding FMCG sector. Recent projects have included the rebranding of the Heineken bar at the Royal Albert Hall, balancing the diverse needs of stakeholders. Coca Cola, Kellogg’s, the National Trust, KP Snacks and Highgrove House have all been supplied with innovative POS and marketing material from the Wiltshire-based firm.


Experience and innovation


The company, now in its 40th year, has been in the rare position of growing with all of the incredible changes in digital printing technology. They now use the latest in digital and litho printing and finishing to meet customer demands and their own design innovations. An ever-increasing range of specifications include different substrates, greater card thickness and a higher ratio of dots per square inch.


Systems under continual scrutiny


And all of this combines with demanding timescales – 24 hr turnarounds from brief to print are not unusual. For this business, IT support and back-up must be completely reliable, facing regular IT audits for Superior to win new business. As with many of Western’s business customers, disaster recovery systems are thoroughly checked to show demonstrable levels of back-up capability.  


“Western has helped us grow and innovate by bringing new technology to us. They’re allowing us to offer new solutions to our customers, keeping us way ahead of our competitors.”  
James Hodgkiss, Associate Director, Superior.   


Superior has worked with the Western team for more than 15 years.  As a leading design and print business, Superior has always embraced Apple for its outstanding design capabilities. In addition, Western provide them with the latest options in Apple technology for data management, storage and back-up – all to complement the highest standards in printing technology.


“Apple technology is robust. It’s bulletproof.”
Paul Bridgwood, IT Manager and Continuous Improvement Manager, Superior. 





Vital upgrades for business growth


Western’s regular reviews with Superior identified the need to replace their server system – a substantial but necessary undertaking. As Pippa Toogood, Western’s Senior Account Manager, explains, “The old system of several Xserves was becoming old, obsolete and no longer able to be supported. We were looking to combine the functionality of different servers into one.”


Western undertook a complete analysis of the existing servers, taking time to understand the data requirements now and for the future. Part of the scope was to improve fault tolerance and redundancy, providing robust data protection and an improved disaster recovery solution using the latest file synchronisation strategies. 


The solution consisted of a Mac Pro running OS X server connected to enterprise fibre channel RAID storage from Promise via an ATTO Thunderlink adaptor. This server was then synchronised to a secondary Mac mini running OS X server, connected to a Promise Pegasus2 Thunderbolt RAID. Western scripted the synchronisation using P5 Synchronize from Archiware. The software performs an overnight sync of a huge amount of data created each day. This new solution has allowed Superior to implement a disk-to-disk-to-tape backup strategy with the final backup being to an LTO tape storage unit for long-term offline storage. 


Implementation without interruption


Such a major IT intervention to a busy company inevitably brings major implementation issues. A vital goal was to copy huge amounts of data to the new servers with minimal disruption to Superior’s demanding deadlines. Western’s plans included the careful monitoring of Superior’s production schedule until they finally pushed the button to set into action a busy weekend to swap old for new. 


“Our engineers worked out of hours throughout the weekend to ensure that on Monday morning, everything was back up and running. Some people didn’t even realise there had been a change except that things were a little quicker,” Pippa Toogood, Senior Account Manager, Western. 


Continued innovation with Western and Apple


Superior has always trusted both Western and the new Apple innovations that they introduce to the company. Paul Bridgewood, IT Manager and Continuous Improvement Manager, knows the importance of continually investing in the right technology. “What we didn’t want to do is to buy a slightly cheaper system and then pay the price with numerous call outs and other costs. We feel that with Apple – everything fits,” he says. 


Both companies know the value of innovation to stay ahead of the competition. Western always knows the value of understanding and matching the standards of each of their business customers.


“Superior isn’t afraid to invest in cutting-edge technology. As the business has grown, Western has been there to support us.” James Hodgkiss Associate Director, Superior.

"If we’re not innovating, someone else will. It’s what keeps us one step ahead of the competition.”
James Hodgkiss, Associate Director, Superior. 





Welsh Government


Business continuity for in-house government design team 

Producing everything from bilingual brochures to lengthy technical reports, the Communications Service of the Welsh Government faces demanding design and publication deadlines. “Business continuity is essential,” explains Paul O’Leary, Senior Designer and Head of Communications Services at the Welsh Government. For the staff in this Mac-based team, including design managers, designers, typesetters and print procurement officers, “any amount of downtime would be a problem.”

For the past 10 years, Western have been a vital partner providing not only remote telephone and onsite support but also supplying hardware and software solutions. “We’ve rarely, if ever, been down for more than a couple of hours,” says Paul. “Over the period of the contract Western have given us excellent advice on software solutions, production workflow, data storage, and retrieval systems.”







Creative support - hardware and software 

With large quantities of communication material to produce, third party peripherals such as large format printers for short print runs are essential; Western supplies this as a turnkey solution. To give the team more creative choices, Western oversaw the team’s transition to Adobe Creative Cloud, liaising with the IT department to ensure continual secure access.

Western continues to support this important government team. Paul says, “The contract enables us to call on Western Computer’s expert advice and services. The contract response level means downtime is kept to an absolute minimum allowing us to meet all our commitments.





"Over the period of the contract Western have given us excellent advice on software solutions, production workflow, data storage and retrieval systems".





Digital Native Advertising 

When John Tarrant started DNA, a new marketing agency, in 2010 he knew exactly what he wanted from a creative point of view. 

The company creates innovative marketing programmes and branding initiatives, particularly in recruitment and employee communications as well as customer campaigns. To achieve this John wanted his studio designers to have “an excellent platform for creativity set in a 100% Mac environment.”

“The best work, that really makes an emotional connection with the client, only comes when creatives can concentrate on their work at all times,” he says. “No system issues, no crashes and totally reliable connections to clients and suppliers.”


Business advice and support for a new business

When John first contacted Western, he had a rough spec of what he needed technically. “With Western’s advice, they helped to choose the right kit and support environment for me. They went above and beyond the call of duty, advising on the best broadband, telephony, firewall and hosting suppliers as well as studio hardware and software. All the team were a great help, responsive to endless questions.” 

Responding to growth and success

With the success and growth of the agency, based in Paintworks, Bristol’s creative quarter, they wanted to continue to be as fast, responsive and agile as possible. Western took the initiative recently, suggesting server and system upgrades.

“They understand our needs well,” says John. “It feels like a true partnership and the new upgrades give us something that works brilliantly well.”

Western’s support services are also vital. “Western’s speed of response to any operational problem has been impeccable; a partner who shares our sense of urgency. Whether it’s remote phone support or someone being with us within 10 minutes, Western have been brilliant.”




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