Frequent accidents, depletion of skilled workforce and increasing quality consciousness have forced fireworks units to look at mechanisation as the panacea for all their ills.
The traditional factory consists of rows of work sheds in the open. They use experienced workers to test even the decibel level without the assistance of any gadget.
Modern units, which have incorporated safety aspects and introduced mechanisation albeit in a small way, are a study in contrast. They are encased in a huge peripheral wall and have roads linking different units. There is a functional research and development unit in some of them. “Our objective is to eliminate manpower from critical processes. In the event of an accident, there will only be material loss,” says A. P. Selvarajan, former president, Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers’ Association.
The main objective of the mechanisation mission is to avoid human contact with hazardous chemicals, says N. Kathiresan, an R and D expert in Sivakasi.
Chemicals, when mixed manually, not only affect the humans but also pollute the atmosphere to an area of about 40 feet. Besides enhancing safety parameters, machines ensure green production.
A machine used to fill chemicals in crackers, fabricated with the assistance of Indian Institute of Science, is touted as a pioneer in the industry. It detects smoke or sparks in the process and shuts down automatically. Another wonder is a solar drier for sparklers installed at a cost of Rs 1.08 crore.
The prohibitive cost of mechanisation demands subsidy from the government, says A. R. Bhaskar Raj, a manufacturer.