Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kraftinn Journey - Learning the Process

(... continued from KraftInn - The Journey so far )

Many people discuss about the quality workmanship of bamboo handcrafted items, but the challenges of retaining its originality require different techniques and treatment processes. At the beginning, we thought of supplying the lamps sourced from a group of artisans and the workmanship of these artisans is very excellent, but if the item is not treated, it outweighs the quality. And, moreover, sourcing introduces a lot of delays, and quality and delivery of suppliers is an issue and overall transaction is not financially prudent. We learned early that we would need to have a setup wherein we can have full control of the quality standards and supply chain. 

Immediately, we made a small bamboo shed wherein we could accommodate people to work for us. It was very difficult to find skilled artisans and we had to provide good incentives while persuading them to move to Kraftinn location at Jorhat. We visited more that 15 villages across Assam to search for the right people and finally hired two artisans. 

Bamboo is a rapidly growing fibrous plant and is abundant in mostly tropical forests. It mainly consists of roots, culms and leaves. They are usually hollow and vary in sizes, diameter, colours and textures. The cellulose fibres run along the length of the culm and carry nutrients between roots and leaves. Because of its cellulose fibrous nature, it is one of those materials that have very high tensile strength. But, bamboo, because of its high starch content, has very low resistance to biological degrading agents. 

Bamboo Treatment - The firewood used is waste bamboo for its low pollutant residue
We needed to ensure that the bamboo we use need to be treated to enhance the durability of the bamboo. We use the immersion technique where we immerse bamboo culm in 6% solution of boric acid and borax as suggested by Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre(CBTC), Guwahati, Assam. But, in this process, selection of bamboo also plays an important role. We start by individually hand picking mature bamboo which has to be between 3-5 years old, otherwise the bamboo would shrink and crack when dried. Also, for harvesting Oct-Nov is the ideal time when the starch content in bamboo is at the lowest level. Once the bamboo is treated, it needs to be left to bask in the sun for 4-5 days depending on the sunlight. Then the bamboo needs to be dried in a dark shade to weather.
Bamboo Kept for Drying

Finally, we are ready with treated high quality bamboo for our use. Luckily, our first client was very co-operative and he showed full trust in me and I was able to convince him to extend the delivery deadline.

We didn’t want to take any risk in executing our first order and we started our production and are ready with the desired lamps. As a normal human nature, we prided ourselves on the final outcome of the products regardless of how will we manage to deliver the products safely to the clients place. When, we received the order, we were not very sure about the logistical challenges and quoted the price accordingly. But, the logistical challenges of delivery are far more challenging and costly than we anticipated.

 - Parikshit Borkotoky
Founder, Kraftinn

(continued at Overcoming the Greatest Challenge: Logistics)

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