Following last week’s COVID-19 update from ILFORD Photo and their tongue-in-cheek suggestion that, “If you are tempted to stockpile rolls, we recommend ones that go into a camera“, I’m sad to report that the company has announced its intent to temporarily cease production at their Mobberly (UK) factory from Wednesday April 1st 2020 until further notice.

Image Credit: @Exploredinary via ILFORD Photo Facebook page
Image Credit: @Exploredinary via ILFORD Photo Facebook page

The UK government has not provided specific restrictions on the UK manufacturing sector at this time, however ILFORD state that:

“…with the country in lockdown we feel now is the time to act in order to protect our employees and our National Health Service (NHS) by minimising the spread of the virus.”

In terms of how this temporary closure affects you and me as customers of ILFORD film, the ILFORD warehouse will remain open in order to fulfil commitments to online customers in the UK and US, online retailers and distributors. In addition, ILFORD confirms in their statement that in anticipation of a pause in manufacturing, production of the company’s most popular lines has been temporarily increased and other essential staff have already been shifted to working from home. again in full:

  • The ILFORD warehouse will remain open in order to fulfil commitments to online customers in the UK and US, online retailers and distributors.
  • In anticipation of a pause in manufacturing, production of the company’s most popular lines was increased.
  • Other essential staff already working from home.

Concerning the status of the warehouse, ILFORD asks customers to, “Please be assured that social distancing measures are being adhered to and personal protective equipment is in use.”

What does this mean for ILFORD? The company has been in operation in one form or another for 140 years and is synonymous with black and white film stocks like HP5 PLUS and FP4 PLUS. ILFORD note that their staff have been furloughed under a new job protection scheme launched by the UK government and the purpose of the current measures being to “safeguard the long-term future of our business and our most valuable assets, our employees.”

The company is still open for business online and their socials (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) are very much open for business.

~ EM

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  1. Temporary, I was glad to see it is temporary. I’ll make a few comments.

    This doesn’t mean simply pulling the plug and going home. To maintain a clean environment the air filtration needs to stay on. If it is turned off air-borne particles will settle requiring extensive a physical cleaning of all surfaces when they restart. The dryers have to be run periodically (alternate days?) for the same reason. Humidity has to be controlled to protect metal surfaces. Some grades of stainless steel are subject to rust. Liquid handling systems have to be drained and blown out. Liquid handling filters have to be removed and housings cleaned. Pumps may have to be drained and seals may have to be serviced. Bearings may need to be lubricated.

    Start-up is far more complicated. If the shutdown is a month or more, in addition to the above items, all the measurement instruments (on-line and off) will have to be inspected and re-calibrated. This includes pump control, tachometers, thickness gauges, electronic flowmeters, tension control, web conveyance correction, temperature control systems, scanners, grain-size measuring, pH meters, densitometers etc. A few days after a shut down requires some effort to get everything back in-tune. A month will require far more work. Regular use procedures keep them calibrated.

    The above refers to emulsion making and coating. Finishing has another set of unique problems.

    Being idle introduces all sorts of variables known and unknown. A week to re-start is an optimistic estimate.

    So, hopefully they will be shutdown for only a week or two. A longer shutdown could have a significant undesirable impact.

    I wish them well.

  2. It’s most important to keep ourselves safe & healthy. Better to be proactive than reactive in these uncertain and rapidly changing times.
    When I read the news via EMULSIVE, I placed an other for enlarging paper & film at both Adorama and B&H Photo. I’m about 2/3rd’s of the way through a 3 year project, and all the prints are made using MultiGrade IV, RC satin finish. To change paper at this point would be unfortunate and would impact the project. I was able to get enough to complete the project between B&H and Adorama. But, prices are up, there is limited supply and shipping may be delayed. In light of the evil COVID-19, these are petty problems.
    Wash you hands, maintain a physical distance, stay put and only leave your home to walk & get air and for essentials: food, beer, meds. Don’t let your significant other’s annoying habits get under your skin. Remember, we also annoy our partners. Help out – never do the laundry? Do a load and help out…what’s the worst that could happen? The clothes could shrink or turn pink. Home schooling? Not as easy as you might think…working from home? Take a break; you don’t need to put in six hours on the computer.