PDA

View Full Version : A question on R&D......



Pages : [1] 2

alarickc
02-22-2013, 12:30 PM
Hello Simon,

You and the rest of Ilford have always been so great on providing information to this comunity that I can't resist asking for some info that I think would be enlightening for everyone.

What are the actual R&D costs for creating a new film or offering an existing film in a new format? I ask because I know there are a few items we have all said that we want but but have been told that the R&D costs make it unreadable for how few of us would most likely purchase the resulting product. So, for arguments sake, how much would it cost to develop a new true IR film? What about offering Ortho Copy in 120 & 135? Maybe even offering Pan F in sheet sizes?

The core of my request really though is this: with the rise of places like Kickstarter could we fund these costs ourselves? Is it at all realistic? Would the costs be a $100k or $1million? Both can be doable if people really want it. Could this even work for products like Pan F in sheets were it would normally canabalise sales of other films by only offering them through group pre-order models like this?

I think as we move forward this is information we would all apreciate as the costs of introducing and sustaining new products becomes arduous to the point of being impossible. Let us help out. Let us chip in. If you don't ever let us put our money where our mouths are how can any of us ever really know what could have been?

gleaf
02-22-2013, 01:07 PM
Kodak master rolls were 54 inch width and 11000 feet long if I remember right. That is a lot of emulsion.

AgX
02-22-2013, 02:28 PM
The lenght of a master-roll is not god-given.

But with shortening coatings there still are the install and run-up costs. And these are fixed.

alarickc
02-22-2013, 05:31 PM
The lenght of a master-roll is not god-given.

But with shortening coatings there still are the install and run-up costs. And these are fixed.

Which is the idea behind this. There are 62k members on here; imagine if they all chipped in ten bucks to guarantee a new emulsion be made. $620k right there. Take the IR film. It's not economical because R&D is high, the film is short lived, and demand is low. Imagine if they did a Kickstarter to cover R&D and the first batch, and then offered it as a conditional part of the ULF run each year. If enough people preorder it they do a run. Then you can let demand build back up and maybe it takes three years for another run to happen, but at least it's still available in some form.

StoneNYC
02-22-2013, 05:35 PM
Which is the idea behind this. There are 62k members on here; imagine if they all chipped in ten bucks to guarantee a new emulsion be made. $620k right there. Take the IR film. It's not economical because R&D is high, the film is short lived, and demand is low. Imagine if they did a Kickstarter to cover R&D and the first batch, and then offered it as a conditional part of the ULF run each year. If enough people preorder it they do a run. Then you can let demand build back up and maybe it takes three years for another run to happen, but at least it's still available in some form.

I know that Ilford has some system where photographers pledge a certain amount and if there is enough demand they do a run, some of us are trying to get a run on 70mm PanF+ this year, however I don't know where this happens, I wish they would simply create an online sign up sheet with a deposit made as a pre-order, and if there isn't enough demand they refund the money? It seems simple to me, not sure why Simon hasn't just set up a site like that. Also technically like banks and such, if it's a 6 month wait on orders, they can make some % off the interest on the held monies which also helps them, it's a win-win.

Just my take on it all...

Ken Nadvornick
02-22-2013, 05:59 PM
Perhaps one of the unanticipated arguments against such an approach might be that Harman Technology Ltd. has managed to rescue the Ilford brandóand the rest of usóby designing and implementing a well thought out business plan to do just that. And that plan is working. For them as well as all of us.

Jumping to a Kickstarter business model could conceivably be incompatible with the continued success of that business plan. And I don't think they, or any of us, would want that.

Ken

alarickc
02-22-2013, 11:11 PM
Perhaps one of the unanticipated arguments against such an approach might be that Harman Technology Ltd. has managed to rescue the Ilford brandóand the rest of usóby designing and implementing a well thought out business plan to do just that. And that plan is working. For them as well as all of us.

Jumping to a Kickstarter business model could conceivably be incompatible with the continued success of that business plan. And I don't think they, or any of us, would want that.

Ken
I think we can all agree that if that would be the result of doing a Kickstarter none of us would want that. However, on the other hand, I seriously doubt that would happen. I say that mostly because I'm not(and I doubt others would) advocate that this become their main buisness model. Instead I am suggesting that this become a way of R&D new photographic products that while they would be profitable for continuing manufacture(Or limited manufacture like the ULF run) would be unfeasable because of R&D and tooling cost. It has sounded like in the past that there may be a number of items Ilford could and would make, but they'd never be able to pay off the upfront investment in a reasonable timeframe. Take out some or most of theupfront cost of the run, and all the sudden it's feasible. We've already seen that a Kickstarter with 10k-20k backers can make $100k-$1million. With a compelling and unique paper or film I think it could happen. We want more choices, so let's do it. The outlet is now there, and who better to facilitate this then Ilford?

Ken Nadvornick
02-22-2013, 11:53 PM
I'm not saying it couldn't work. All I'm saying is that I'd guess there might be more questions to answer and issues to address than simply being handed a one-time infusion of some cash. For example, the ongoing maintenance of a product line is a continuing expense over time. And a new product line would be a new continuing expense to be borne. Where that would pencil out overall is anybody's guess. A chunk of upfront money certainly couldn't hurt. But neither, I might guess, would it guarantee a new product.

As a smaller, more targeted project, maybe something like the funding of a new 220 roll film finishing machine would be a better proof of concept goal. I seem to recall the number quoted in 2006 for that as being somewhere around 300K GBP (455K USD). There were other ongoing expense issues for that as well (including large MOQ new top and bottom backing paper orders), but if Harman were successfully handed a one-time lump sum of half-a-million dollars for a one-time expense of designing and building a new 220 machine, who knows, it might fly.

And if that smaller project successfully flew, then further down the road, who also knows??

I'd certainly contribute my share of money.

Ken

David Brown
02-23-2013, 12:08 AM
There are 62k members on here; imagine if they all chipped in ten bucks ...

:laugh:

StoneNYC
02-23-2013, 09:29 AM
:laugh:

But how many are active? That's the number you need to look at, those that actively post, subtract the classified posters' numbers and that's closer to the true number, any mods have that info?


~Stone

Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk

alarickc
02-23-2013, 11:58 AM
But how many are active? That's the number you need to look at, those that actively post, subtract the classified posters' numbers and that's closer to the true number, any mods have that info?


~Stone

Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
Not to mention that APUG doen't encompass all of the traditional photography comunity. The real key is that Ilford still sells film and paper to at least tens of thousands of people. Even if only a relitvly small fraction of them contribute, that's still huge.

David Brown
02-23-2013, 01:27 PM
But how many are active?

This aspect of apug's membership has come up many times before. IIRC, there are probably only a few hundred active at any one time, and "active" is relative.

At one time, we were able to access the membership list - no longer possible, I believe. Back when the membership list was live, you could sort it by any number of fields, including the number of posts made by a member. It was astonishing how many had never made any posts at all! It was a significantly large percentage. Then there was another significant percentage who had made only one post and were never heard from again. Add to this the number that are members only; i.e.; those that have not ponied up for a subscription, and the number of active subscribers is not large. I'm sure Sean can attest to this. That was the reason for my reaction earlier. Sorry to the OP ...

However, this is getting off on a tangent to some extent. I agree with Ken that Ilford has a good business plan in place and they've addressed why they do and do not market certain products many times before.

Cheers, y'all. :)

Diapositivo
02-23-2013, 01:36 PM
Ilford is a well known brand and the firm producing the product is certainly well known to banks. If and when a well-established firm needs to raise new capital to finance some new endeavour, the normal way to do it is to borrow capital from a bank, some venture capitalists, an investment fund, etc.

I tend to think to Kickstarter as the kind of financing for the genius working in his basement, having a new idea for a new potato-peeler or cork-screw, and having difficulties in finding a financial intermediary who would listen to him. Basically, people who don't have a working relation with financial intermediaries.

StoneNYC
02-23-2013, 03:58 PM
Ilford is a well known brand and the firm producing the product is certainly well known to banks. If and when a well-established firm needs to raise new capital to finance some new endeavour, the normal way to do it is to borrow capital from a bank, some venture capitalists, an investment fund, etc.

I tend to think to Kickstarter as the kind of financing for the genius working in his basement, having a new idea for a new potato-peeler or cork-screw, and having difficulties in finding a financial intermediary who would listen to him. Basically, people who don't have a working relation with financial intermediaries.

I agree but kickstarter is how TIP started... (Impossible Project) and they used it for their new iPhone Polaroid printer thing. So the model does work for some business


~Stone

Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk

alarickc
02-23-2013, 04:28 PM
I agree that Ilfords current model is great. It's what's allowed them to maintain their product line relitvly unchanged, which is amazing. But we're in a new era, their model doesn't seem to let them introduce new products with the same free hand they had in the past. I'm not saying that Kicksarter specifically is the answer(It's simply a name that came to mind). What if they did something like Stone said and made a more transparent group-buy system? Imagine if it was an option on their website to put in orders for currently unavailable products(think sheet pan f or coated glass plates) and when enough orders are in a run is made. They could have a little progress bar to show how close an order is to going through, maybe even setting up email alerts if a project you're following is getting close to going through. I'm just saying that if Ilford is as serious as they seem about keeping as many forms of B&W traditional photography alive they should look into some alternative funding models for certain items. We've been told that the current model won't allow for IR, instead of letting it die, why not look for another model? Why use only one buisness model for everything? You dont have to use group funding for already established and safe product lines. I don't think anyone is suggesting kickstarting a run of 35mm HP5.....

AgX
02-23-2013, 05:21 PM
I agree but kickstarter is how TIP started... (Impossible Project) and they used it for their new iPhone Polaroid printer thing. So the model does work for some business

Impossible started being backed by a classic investment company.

StoneNYC
02-23-2013, 07:56 PM
Impossible started being backed by a classic investment company.

OK, well I know they are using kickstarter now... :)

StoneNYC
02-23-2013, 07:56 PM
I agree that Ilfords current model is great. It's what's allowed them to maintain their product line relitvly unchanged, which is amazing. But we're in a new era, their model doesn't seem to let them introduce new products with the same free hand they had in the past. I'm not saying that Kicksarter specifically is the answer(It's simply a name that came to mind). What if they did something like Stone said and made a more transparent group-buy system? Imagine if it was an option on their website to put in orders for currently unavailable products(think sheet pan f or coated glass plates) and when enough orders are in a run is made. They could have a little progress bar to show how close an order is to going through, maybe even setting up email alerts if a project you're following is getting close to going through. I'm just saying that if Ilford is as serious as they seem about keeping as many forms of B&W traditional photography alive they should look into some alternative funding models for certain items. We've been told that the current model won't allow for IR, instead of letting it die, why not look for another model? Why use only one buisness model for everything? You dont have to use group funding for already established and safe product lines. I don't think anyone is suggesting kickstarting a run of 35mm HP5.....

Oh that's great, progress bar, I like it! And I agree, IR yum!

Simon R Galley
02-26-2013, 08:48 AM
Dear alarickc

Firstly, apologies for the delay in replying I have been away on business. Thanks for your suggestions, encouragement and positive thoughts.

Whilst we are a small company, due to our positive history since forming HARMAN technology Limited eight years ago we are able to fund our R&D and product development programmes, the crucial question is what we fund and what we R&D ?

Our monochrome photo business is our first love, is the largest part of the business and is our number one priority, but we do lots of other things such as anti-microbial silver, specialist thin layer coating specialist scientific coatings, ink jet etc etc. R&D also work a great deal on finding alternative raw materials, chemicals and processes.

We have always engaged when people have asked us about new or replacement 'photographic' products......but we make more Mono products than all the other manufacturers put together, well in excess of 2,400 SKU's and as I have always said, our intention is to keep every product that is currently in production...in production : Period.

Our whole manufacturing systems have been changed, upgraded and refined to achieve this key company objective, and for us to continue to achieve this.

One of the real difficulties about making and developing 'new' products is the tendency of the 'audience' or customer base is that when you are passionate about a product, or a way of doing something is to presume that every one is else is and that a 'market' must therefore exist, it probably does, the question is, is that a viable market based on the manuafcturing and quality systems of a highly sophisticated and complex manufacturing process that has 'medical' levels of QC.

Lets take 220... everyone would love to see it back, us included, trouble is it will never come back because it will never make money.

Why ? 220 film by m2 was less than 5.00% of roll film sold ( by us ), so 5 rolls of 220 for every 95 rolls of 120. We could have bought a new machine to do 220 we even had it costed, over £ 300 K we would never have recouped that investment and we would have had to increase our inventory, and then every retailer would have to be sold 220, and what do you think a retailer would say, no I cannot hold it in stock if sales are 5.00% of 120 film sales. So even if we had done it 220 rolls would cost 3 x what a 120 roll would cost, thats why 220 is never coming back, from anyone.

We just bought a cassette making line, for 35mm, why, because we needed to secure a future supply of 35mm cassettes, we can make money, so we bought it. We may be passionate about Black and White, and we are, but we are in business first and foremost.

IR film is the same, we know how to make it, many APUGGERS would buy it, most film users would know what it was and the effect you could get by using it, and even with our low m2 coating capabilities we would have to throw away half of what we coated, as it would go out of date, and before you come back.... you cannot preserve IR emulsions by freezing, they degrade anyway ( slower...but they still degrade) we estimated a selling cost at about $ 16.00 per 35mm 36 exp roll instead of $ 8.00 for SFX, SFX would need to be withdrawn. You may well pay $ 16 per roll, 90% will not.

I'm sure we don't always get it correct, I'm sure we have missed opportunities, the management board of HARMAN discuss new products and potential new products at least every month. As you know we just re-launched single use camera's, that was actually quite a risk and involved a significant investment.

So, we will always listen, we will always look, we may even start a project, we will even take a 'calculated' risk. We may not do something when we should... but what we will always do is be totally dedicated to analog photography, analog photographers, the art, artisanship, and the preservation for the future of film photograhy and silver gelatin photo papers.

Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :

StoneNYC
02-26-2013, 12:24 PM
Dear alarickc

Firstly, apologies for the delay in replying I have been away on business. Thanks for your suggestions, encouragement and positive thoughts.

Whilst we are a small company, due to our positive history since forming HARMAN technology Limited eight years ago we are able to fund our R&D and product development programmes, the crucial question is what we fund and what we R&D ?

Our monochrome photo business is our first love, is the largest part of the business and is our number one priority, but we do lots of other things such as anti-microbial silver, specialist thin layer coating specialist scientific coatings, ink jet etc etc. R&D also work a great deal on finding alternative raw materials, chemicals and processes.

We have always engaged when people have asked us about new or replacement 'photographic' products......but we make more Mono products than all the other manufacturers put together, well in excess of 2,400 SKU's and as I have always said, our intention is to keep every product that is currently in production...in production : Period.

Our whole manufacturing systems have been changed, upgraded and refined to achieve this key company objective, and for us to continue to achieve this.

One of the real difficulties about making and developing 'new' products is the tendency of the 'audience' or customer base is that when you are passionate about a product, or a way of doing something is to presume that every one is else is and that a 'market' must therefore exist, it probably does, the question is, is that a viable market based on the manuafcturing and quality systems of a highly sophisticated and complex manufacturing process that has 'medical' levels of QC.

Lets take 220... everyone would love to see it back, us included, trouble is it will never come back because it will never make money.

Why ? 220 film by m2 was less than 5.00% of roll film sold ( by us ), so 5 rolls of 220 for every 95 rolls of 120. We could have bought a new machine to do 220 we even had it costed, over £ 300 K we would never have recouped that investment and we would have had to increase our inventory, and then every retailer would have to be sold 220, and what do you think a retailer would say, no I cannot hold it in stock if sales are 5.00% of 120 film sales. So even if we had done it 220 rolls would cost 3 x what a 120 roll would cost, thats why 220 is never coming back, from anyone.

We just bought a cassette making line, for 35mm, why, because we needed to secure a future supply of 35mm cassettes, we can make money, so we bought it. We may be passionate about Black and White, and we are, but we are in business first and foremost.

IR film is the same, we know how to make it, many APUGGERS would buy it, most film users would know what it was and the effect you could get by using it, and even with our low m2 coating capabilities we would have to throw away half of what we coated, as it would go out of date, and before you come back.... you cannot preserve IR emulsions by freezing, they degrade anyway ( slower...but they still degrade) we estimated a selling cost at about $ 16.00 per 35mm 36 exp roll instead of $ 8.00 for SFX, SFX would need to be withdrawn. You may well pay $ 16 per roll, 90% will not.

I'm sure we don't always get it correct, I'm sure we have missed opportunities, the management board of HARMAN discuss new products and potential new products at least every month. As you know we just re-launched single use camera's, that was actually quite a risk and involved a significant investment.

So, we will always listen, we will always look, we may even start a project, we will even take a 'calculated' risk. We may not do something when we should... but what we will always do is be totally dedicated to analog photography, analog photographers, the art, artisanship, and the preservation for the future of film photograhy and silver gelatin photo papers.

Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :

A few questions...

Would you consider buying out already functioning equipment from other manufacturers?

For example, Kodak is the only current 220 maker, and their company is falling apart. If they collapse, would you consider buying their 220 machine if the cost were right? I think that the main issue with 220 is that our perception is that if it's double the amount of film, there should be a savings on our end, so a film that costs $5 should cost $9 in 220 as we are buying more. If that's possible as a price point, I think the number of 220 sold could increase and since you would be the only manufacturer, I think you could see a purchase of higher than 5%.

IR films should cost no more than double what regular films cost, I only really buy MF films so I'm not super familiar with 35mm prices but your 120 costs roughly $5 at B&H so I would pay $10 maybe $12 for IR but not $16 :(

Third, why not use shell companies for the riskier divisions, like create Ilford220 the company, and then have that contract the normal Ilford for the film production that way if the 220 project fails, it doesn't harm the main company.

Fourth is the above suggestion about creating a dedicated page on your website for requested production runs doable? I really think if you added a few things like PanF+ in 4x5 sheet and 70mm, you would have a better idea of what needs were out there. You could even have a "secondary" option, like "If we don't meet our goal of X requests, what second film would you like to see as 70mm? so maybe having FP4+ in 70mm is more appealing overall than PanF+ but at least if it were fresh 70mm people would want it. That sort of thing...

Thanks!