A new wholly locally-designed and fabricated semi-automated fibre processing mill that integrates several stages of the process of extracting fibre from coconut husks has been unveiled in Sri Lanka, significantly enhancing efficiency, product quality, safety and earning potential.
Researched, developed and fabricated by Engineer A. P. S. Luxman Wijesinghe, the new machine has been installed at a Gal Amuna Fibre Mill at Nattandiya, following an intervention by the Hayleys Group’s Fibre sector subsidiary Ravi Industries, which supported its inventor by purchasing and leasing out the new machine.
The Hayleys Group’s Fibre sector has also pledged to support the manufacture and roll-out of the new machine for the benefit of the local fibre industry, by purchasing five machines and leasing them out to fibre suppliers.
In acknowledgement of the importance of this new machine to the industry, the formal commissioning of the first machine at the Gal Amuna Fibre Mill was attended by two ministers -- Coconut Development & Janata Estates Development Minister Jagath Pushpakumara and the Minister of State Resources & Enterprise Development Dayashritha Tissera, the Chairman of the Coconut Development Authority (CDA) Sudath Handunge, other senior government officials and local government representatives.
Minister Jagath Pushpakumara at the controls of the new machine, the machine in operation, and Minister Pushpakumara presenting Engineer Luxman Wijesinghe with a plaque in appreciation of his invention.
Commenting on this milestone development for the coir products industry, Prasanna de Silva, Head of the Fibre sector of Hayleys said: “As a business group that had its origins in value addition to coir 133 years ago, Hayleys and its Fibre sector companies have played a pioneering and enduring role in the development and mechanization of the industry. This latest innovation, which enhances incomes and working conditions of fibre industry employees, and improves the quality of their output, is further evidence of the Group’s commitment to the industry.” Chief Executive Officer of Ravi Industries Limited, Anuruddha Dias said the company had undertaken to promote the new machine as a community project under the aegis of the Ravi Foundation for Community Development because it addresses several serious issues facing the bristle fibre industry, including the scarcity and high cost of bristle fibre, the inferior quality of fibre extracted by existing machines and the lack of skilled labour due to safety concerns associated with the operation of traditional hand-fed fibre extractors.
Designed to be operated by semi-skilled labour, the new machine has an automated conveyor type husk feeding mechanism and a secondary cleaning process that reduces labour hours, extraction costs and the quality of the bristle fibre, he said.
In the manual fibre extraction process still prevalent in some areas, coconuts are husked by hand or split open with machetes, retted in fresh water tanks or in wet soil, beaten on stone with wooden bars or pounded with mallets, spread in the sun to dry and are beaten again with long sticks to separate the fibres from husk particles. The traditional fibre extracting machine known colloquially as the ‘Petti Kuttama’ requires the husks to be fed by hand to the spikes on a spinning wheel, a process that carries a high risk of injury to the operator’s fingers.
Coconut coir fiber is relatively water-proof and is the only natural fiber resistant to damage by salt water and microbial degradation. It is used in the manufacture of floor mats, mattresses, ropes, brushes, brooms, nets and carpets.
A Presidential Export Award winner, Ravi Industries Ltd., has been one of Asia’s leading brush and broom manufacturers since 1962. The first brush manufacturer in Sri Lanka to obtain ISO 9001, 14001 and FSC certifications, the company has over four decades of combined experience in the industry, together with its partner, B.V Borstelfabriek VERO of Holland. It currently exports an extensive portfolio of brushes and brush blocks to customers in the U.K, Japan, Europe, Middle East, Netherlands, Australia, the USA and Canada.
News released on 01.11.2011.