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malexand
11-Jul-2019, 09:23
Nice video about Ilford!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXpoALotxf0

Larry Gebhardt
11-Jul-2019, 11:07
Thanks! When I see the whole process I'm amazed we can still get film for so cheap. And even more amazed how cheap it was when usage was so much higher.

Pere Casals
11-Jul-2019, 11:21
Yes, a very nice video !!!!

Tin Can
11-Jul-2019, 11:38
Thanks for posting.

I wonder what's up with 11X14 HP5 stocking.

B&H used to always have it and now waiting months!

mpirie
11-Jul-2019, 11:49
Very interesting video and i hope they continue film and paper production for many years to come.

Mike

Drew Wiley
11-Jul-2019, 12:28
That was fun. Nice clean modern-looking facility. A lot different from pics of certain run down former Eastern European plants with peeling paint and polyethylene sheeting hung to control dust.

Jerry Bodine
11-Jul-2019, 15:10
With all the automation involved, I had to go back to 2:03 and look more closely at what seemed to be a PHONE BOOTH that flashed for a moment. Turns out it had a sign on it "book exchange." Made much more sense! Great video.

Sal Santamaura
11-Jul-2019, 16:42
I wonder if the scale model was one created by Argonaught Holdings (HARMAN's landlord) for its failed attempt to obtain approval of the Mobberley site redevelopment. :)

Drew Wiley
11-Jul-2019, 16:57
Maybe the model came from Kodak, planning to infiltrate the compound. Perhaps a new James Bond episode? Kodacolor Goldfinger.

Tracy Storer
11-Jul-2019, 18:52
Cracking Video, Grommit !!!

Kiwi7475
11-Jul-2019, 20:11
This is great to see.
Makes me worry though about who is going to continue this after some/all these people retire... not many young faces and it all seems to rely on a bunch of highly skilled, extremely experienced people. It also seems a small crew.

Duolab123
11-Jul-2019, 23:08
That was a refreshing little film. Keep Calm and Carry On. What a neat place to be part of.

mpirie
12-Jul-2019, 01:27
This is great to see.
Makes me worry though about who is going to continue this after some/all these people retire... not many young faces and it all seems to rely on a bunch of highly skilled, extremely experienced people. It also seems a small crew.
Yeah, most of the people interviewed had been with the company between 15 and 30+ years so i hope they have a succession plan for when these people retire.

Mike

invisibleflash
12-Jul-2019, 05:06
You can see why digital lacks the film look. The grain of film is organic and variable whereas pixels are not.

invisibleflash
12-Jul-2019, 05:06
Yeah, most of the people interviewed had been with the company between 15 and 30+ years so i hope they have a succession plan for when these people retire.

Mike

Good luck with that. But we can always hope.

invisibleflash
12-Jul-2019, 05:07
This is great to see.
Makes me worry though about who is going to continue this after some/all these people retire... not many young faces and it all seems to rely on a bunch of highly skilled, extremely experienced people. It also seems a small crew.

Yes, like that in other areas as well. Can't get young people interested. If they do get them, they don't stick.

Tin Can
12-Jul-2019, 05:30
The Ilford Factory can train workers as needed. Nothing there is magic.

As a kid in the 50's my father's idea of a vacation was to travel and tour factories. 1968 he built a giant one. It has been reconfigured several times for vastly different industries. Demand changes fast.

Ilford looks right sized for current demand. It seems to barely keep up, as there is shortage of some of their product.

invisibleflash
12-Jul-2019, 05:51
You have to wonder how they coated film in the old days. Here is Kodak's spooling operation...in the dark with infrared flash.

1945...

invisibleflash
12-Jul-2019, 05:55
The Ilford Factory can train workers as needed. Nothing there is magic.

As a kid in the 50's my father's idea of a vacation was to travel and tour factories. 1968 he built a giant one. It has been reconfigured several times for vastly different industries. Demand changes fast.

Ilford looks right sized for current demand. It seems to barely keep up, as there is shortage of some of their product.

You can say the same thing about photography...nothing magic there. Yet we know that one photo is not the same as another photo. Time will tell.

Ever eat a fuzzless peach that rots before it ripens or a tasteless plum? How about giant, tasteless strawberries? Something was lost in the translation when the new generation of fruit growers took control. Never discount how humans can f things up.

invisibleflash
12-Jul-2019, 06:10
...and where is the GD film on Kodak's, DuPont's and Agfa's operation???

History lost?

interneg
12-Jul-2019, 06:40
You have to wonder how they coated film in the old days. Here is Kodak's spooling operation...in the dark with infrared flash.

1945...

It's well documented how materials were coated & the changes from dip to slot-die to slide to cascade coating. Quite a lot is readily accessible via Google if you know the terminology of what you are looking for.

As for the future of film R&D etc, no one seems to have noticed that the R&D scientist in the film is clearly of a younger generation than the senior staff interviewed elsewhere in the film.

mpirie
12-Jul-2019, 09:22
Yeah, good point, and hopefully, she was not the only young person working at Ilford.

Mike

Jac@stafford.net
12-Jul-2019, 18:48
[...] who is going to continue this after some/all these people retire

Why presume there is no apprentice or normal hierarchy in place?

Kiwi7475
12-Jul-2019, 20:57
Why presume there is no apprentice or normal hierarchy in place?

Itís certainly possible, it just didnít look like the place is bursting with people rather that itís streamlined to a minimum and it just caught my attention that most (minus one) have been there a long time. Indeed they make it a point of the short to make it look like almost everyone has been there 30 years. They had a chance to show new faces and young people and they didnít. So one naturally infers from that the proportions shown are that of the full company. It is only normal to extrapolate that way even if indeed youíre of course right that it is just an inference on our side.

Oren Grad
12-Jul-2019, 23:07
Finally got around to watching the video... wow! It brought back memories of the wonderful day back in 2007 when I had the good fortune and great pleasure to participate in the APUG tour of the factory complex in Mobberley.

The video provides some close views of the small coating machine used for R&D, pilot production and quality control, and mentions in passing how much smaller it is than the main coating machine. But what it doesn't make explicit is that the main machine is a city-block long, housed in its own dedicated building.

The roll film packaging machines were very cool, but I have to say that seen "in the flesh", the 120 machine in particular was quite the contraption, like something out of a Rube Goldberg (or should it be Heath Robinson?) cartoon. Many of us couldn't help cracking a smile at the sight of it doing its thing.

As the video highlights roll film production, a couple of aspects of our tour that it doesn't show are cutting and packaging of sheet film and of paper.

The overall impression I took away from our visit was of a facility that was large, clean, under-populated, and well-maintained where it matters but slightly shabby around the margins where it doesn't. From the video I wouldn't be surprised if it's exactly the same today.

The senior managers who met with us in 2007 emphasized the importance of their efforts to re-scale the operation to be sustainable at lower overall volumes. They were clearly quite proud of how they had found ways to be more nimble in switching production among shorter runs of different products in response to market conditions, while still maintaining quality. One other thing comes back to mind: around the factory were placards reminding employees of the Harman Technology company principles. The one that stands out in my recollection today is that they declared their intention to be the "last man standing" in the (film and paper) business. Who knows whether it will work out that way, but so far, at least, they're still here.

About staffing of the factory: by the time of the bankruptcy/reorganization in 2004-5, the employee count in Mobberley was already far smaller than it had been at the peak of production years before. But over the ten years or so following the reorganization, the new Harman Technology company felt compelled to continue shedding employees, primarily manufacturing staff, to get down to a level that's more sustainable given their current volume. Based on the last few annual reports, this seems to have finally stabilized, though we'll see what this year's report looks like when it comes out in a bit. However, at this point they do have a quite small number of people relative to the overall size of the factory complex. The site-redevelopment plan that envisioned them transferring operations to a new facility with a much smaller footprint reflected that.

The question of training young staff to be able to run the coating machines when the old-timers retire came up on the tour in 2007. Although as Randy says, it's not "magic", nevertheless there's a certain amount of voodoo involved in mixing and coating photographic emulsions, tacit knowledge that's site- and machine-dependent, gained from experience and not possible to write down completely in a book. My recollection of the discussion back then was that the Harman managers expressed general confidence that they would be able to cultivate a new generation of coating engineers as needed, but I have no information about what the turnover has been among that unit within their manufacturing staff over the past decade, nor what they have done to bring on trainees for that role.

Finally: for anyone who's interested, there's a nice page on the history of the company and its products here:

https://www.photomemorabilia.co.uk/I...hronology.html (https://www.photomemorabilia.co.uk/Ilford/Chronology.html)

Also, I have posted information from the Harman annual reports in this thread:

https://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?145361-Harman-Technology-Limited-financial-performance-2005-2016-NOW-UPDATED-TO-2017

EDIT: There's a Photrio thread from 2008 in which someone asked Simon Galley whether it might be possible to make a "video tour" for the many who couldn't visit in person. He said he'd look into it... and here we are at last, eleven years later! Nah, probably not the same project - Simon is long gone from Harman, alas. Still, it's great to see some version of it become reality.

Oren Grad
12-Jul-2019, 23:40
If you enjoyed the Ilford video, you might also like this Kodak feature from 60 years ago. Special thanks to Sal Santamaura for posting about this on APUG ten years ago, and to Denise Ross/The Light Farm for hosting the video:

http://www.thelightfarm.com/cgi-bin/showvideo.py

Tin Can
13-Jul-2019, 07:19
Not loading, my connection is fast.

Sal Santamaura
13-Jul-2019, 07:29
Not loading, my connection is fast.Works for me.

Tin Can
13-Jul-2019, 08:39
This link works,

http://www.thelightfarm.com/Map/Videos/showvideo_v2.html

Oren Grad
13-Jul-2019, 08:47
Thanks, Randy.

Credit where credit is due, I should also point to this page, which explains the efforts of others who "processed" the feature into a format that could be shared:

http://www.thelightfarm.com/Map/Videos/How_Film_Is_Made_Intro.htm

George Hart
14-Jul-2019, 06:50
Many thanks for letting us know about this video. I too went on the factory tour 12 years ago and I enjoyed seeing much more than there is time for in this video. I was surprised to see there that sheets of paper are counted, inspected and boxed by hand. The water treatment plant at the entrance to the coating facility is most impressive, and on the wall there is a photograph of the staff denoting a record time during which they had produced batches of emulsion without a batch having to be withdrawn because of a flaw. Oren has written about the roll film spooling machine, one of two, which look as if they are entirely home-made! Here we learned that the backing paper for 120 film is in fact more expensive than the film itself. In the video we get a glimpse of possibly the largest and newest of the 135 spooling machines, through which film passes at an extraordinary speed. And on the floor underneath the machine there are buckets that receive the bits of film which fall out of the sprocket holes, and from which the silver is recovered for making more film. Naturally they show on the video a lot of HP5 Plus in small format which was, and probably still is their biggest seller in film. Long live Ilford!

Bob Salomon
14-Jul-2019, 07:32
Many thanks for letting us know about this video. I too went on the factory tour 12 years ago and I enjoyed seeing much more than there is time for in this video. I was surprised to see there that sheets of paper are counted, inspected and boxed by hand. The water treatment plant at the entrance to the coating facility is most impressive, and on the wall there is a photograph of the staff denoting a record time during which they had produced batches of emulsion without a batch having to be withdrawn because of a flaw. Oren has written about the roll film spooling machine, one of two, which look as if they are entirely home-made! Here we learned that the backing paper for 120 film is in fact more expensive than the film itself. In the video we get a glimpse of possibly the largest and newest of the 135 spooling machines, through which film passes at an extraordinary speed. And on the floor underneath the machine there are buckets that receive the bits of film which fall out of the sprocket holes, and from which the silver is recovered for making more film. Naturally they show on the video a lot of HP5 Plus in small format which was, and probably still is their biggest seller in film. Long live Ilford!

Backing paper is a story in itself.

Back in the early 90s Kodak called me to make an appointment for a couple of their engineers to visit us and the company that did our camera repairs.

We had been questioning why we were having a problem with transport gears on the Linhof Technorama failing and stripping when Kodak film was used but not when Fuji or Ilford film was. For some reason with Kodak film the film sometimes would not release properly from the roll to get taken up on the take up spool. When this happened some users would apply too much force and strip the gears.

Kodak kept telling us it was not their problem. But the first two Technoramas sold went to Kodak to make their Colorama display at Grand Central Station. It seems that their own photographers reported the same problem to their supervisors.

So the engineers came down with lots of different Kodak, Fuji and Ilford film and spent a day with our service manager merrily running 120 and 220 film through the 617 and the 612 Technoramas as well as through the Rollei 2.8GX and the 6000 series cameras.

At the end of the day they found that Kodak rolls would sometimes not come off the supply spool while Fuji and Ilford film always did. They told us they would get back to us with their findings.

After a couple of weeks they told us that the problem was caused by Kodak backing paper. The Fuji and Ilford papers were very slippery while the Kodak paper was more gritty, and that grittiness could cause the film to not come off the supply spool without using additional force.

Another problem came with the auto film positioning with the Rolleiflex cameras. Some films had too thick or too thin a sandwich between the film and the paper and that would fool the feeler mechanism and let the entire roll run through without stopping at the first frame or, if too thick, hanging up. But hanging up was rare!

interneg
15-Jul-2019, 06:33
... while the Kodak paper was more gritty, and that grittiness could cause the film to not come off the supply spool without using additional force.

Having recently been given some well stored & long expired VPL from the early 90's & having run it through through a Pentax 67, it's good to know that I wasn't imagining things about the winding-off at the end being rather troublesome.

Tin Can
15-Jul-2019, 07:02
Maybe that's why so many MF Roll cameras can't count.

I wondered why so many are broken...


Having recently been given some well stored & long expired VPL from the early 90's & having run it through through a Pentax 67, it's good to know that I wasn't imagining things about the winding-off at the end being rather troublesome.