Talawakelle Estate ziplines tea leaf harvests amidst fuel crisis – The Morning


  • CEO says estate saves over Rs. 600k on fuel per month 
  • Notes zipline reduces transport costs over 60 km
  • Says tea leaves reach factory within 20 minutes



By Imesh Ranasinghe

The installation of a zipline by the Talawakelle Tea Estate to transport tea leaves has led to the estate saving over Rs. 600,000 per month on fuel costs, amidst the energy crisis in the country. 

Speaking to The Morning Business, Talawakelle Tea Estates Director/CEO Senaka Alawattegama said that the zip line located in its Bearwell Estate is used to transport tea leaves to its factory over the Agra Oya, saving on daily costs of transporting the tea over over 60 km.

According to him, a tractor from the tea factory is required to make three daily rounds to the Bearwell Estate to collect the tea leaves, but with the installation of the zipline, the tea leaves are collected at the factory within 20 minutes.

According to data presented by the estate, the tractor covers a distance of 61.2 km to collect the tea leaves in the Bearwell division thrice a day, which comes up to about Rs. 267,000 saved on fuel, as per the price of fuel in March 2022, but with the price of Auto Diesel – which is used for the tractor – now at Rs. 400 per litre, the zipline results in average savings of Rs. 612,000 per month for the tea estate, as of yesterday (6).

The idea of installing a zipline to transport green leaf from field to factory was suggested at a

brain-storming session on increasing the Net Sales Average, and after much discussion and deliberation, it was decided to install a cable system to transport the green leaf. 

The length of the zipline is about 300 m; the starting point is located right across the Agra Oya from the Bearwell factory, and at a higher elevation than the factory. The other end of the zipline is at the loft of the Bearwell factory. Sacks of green leaf, once tethered to a carabiner attached to a pulley mounted on the cable, would travel down along the zipline into the factory under the force of gravitation; no other power supplies are required.

According to the Talawakelle Tea Estate, the capital cost of installing the zipline was equivalent to the cost of 16 months of the green leaf transport method (Rs. 267,000 x 16 months) as of the March 2022 value of diesel, and the payback period (PBP) of this investment was estimated at 16 months. However, with the recent price increase, the PBP has reduced much further.

The installation of the project commenced in early April 2022, and was completed and

commissioned on 1 June 2022.

Alawattegama said that they are looking into installing similar ziplines to other divisions in other tea estates to conserve more money and time.

Bearwell Estate is situated at Talawakelle in the Nuwara Eliya District. It has a population of

3,475, comprising 1,020 families and 675 workers, as per the 2022 census, while the estate covers an area of 423 hectares. The company’s turnover for the financial year ended 31 March 2022 was Rs. 355 million. 

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