A worker dips the cathode ends of a CFL burner in an acid to improve their conductance, before sending the lamp to be fitted with the plastic base and the bayonet(By Arnab Pratim Dutta (Reporter, Down to Earth)Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)
Unlike the factories of the big brand manufacturers, CFL assembly in the unorganised and small-scale sector is labour intensive. Keeping time with the assembly line routine, workers piece together the bayonet fittings. Judged as tedious work requiring low technical expertise, women and children are preferred for the job(By Arnab Pratim Dutta (Reporter, Down to Earth)Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)
On the last leg, assembled CFLs are put to the final test. A worker checks to see if the lamp lights, when plugged to the electrical board. The cleared CFLs are then packed off to the CFL distributors and retailers. In response to the anti-dumping measures, the CFL supply chain passes through three main players-- the component importer and distributor, the assemblers and the CFL distributors and retailers. The component importers mainly import burners from China and Vietnam. The assemblers piece the CFL together and the distributors put them in the market(By Arnab Pratim Dutta (Reporter, Down to Earth)Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)
Their means may be modest but they claim to offer a wide variety in products. There are about 50,000 odd CFL assemblers in the small-scale sector in India. “It is almost like a cottage industry”, says DC Agarwal the ex-president of the board of small-scale manufacturers of CFL. The CFL market ranges from the cheap, low quality lamps to the more expensive but durable, high quality lamps(By Arnab Pratim Dutta (Reporter, Down to Earth)Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)
They make the worst and the best. A wide variety of CFLs are produced by the unorganised and the small-scale sector. They range from the 11 watt lamp to the 20 watt lamp. They cost between Rs15 to Rs 60. The profit margin could vary between Rs 5 to Rs 20, per CFL assembled. But surveys have shown that low priced, low wattage CFLs are the more popular choices at present. “To remain competitive, we need to sell both lower grade as well as high quality lamps”, says D.C Aggarwal,“And, if regulations are brought in to standardise quality, we will revamp to deliver better CFLs at more competitive prices than offered by the big brands(By Arnab Pratim Dutta (Reporter, Down to Earth)Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)
He sits to make a CFL under the light of an incandescent bulb. Five other workers in this spare room in Motinagar, New Delhi are doing the same. They are not manufacturing but assembling CFLs from parts imported mostly from china(By Arnab Pratim Dutta (Reporter, Down to Earth)Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)
CFLs are being touted by the Bureau of Energy efficiency as the next revolution lamps in lighting efficiency. With many buyers, sellers and products active in the CFL market, there is a need to regulate and guarantee the standard of the lamps available to the consumer. It will only add to CFL’s popularity if consumers could be assured of the life span, mercury load and luminescence of the product they buy (By Arnab Pratim Dutta (Reporter, Down to Earth)Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)
A handkerchief to cover the mouth when dealing with bulk orders. A chance breaking of burners is not uncommon. The burners contain mercury and the safety measures are inadequate. The possibility of safe disposal is bleak. Many workers know that handling a broken CFL is bad for them but argue that it is part of their job(By Arnab Pratim Dutta (Reporter, Down to Earth)Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)
He is soldering the ballast to the burner. In most cases of CFL failure, it is the ballast that malfunctions. The unorganised sector uses poor quality ballasts and 95% of their products are sold without a warranty. But this does not hinder their claim for 30% of the market share(By Arnab Pratim Dutta (Reporter, Down to Earth)Photographs by Meeta Ahlawat)
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