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HISTORY AND MILESTONES

The Uruwala Tea Factory is situated among lush green paddy fields in Thalahagama in Akuressa AGA Division of Weligamkorale in the Matara district, 160 km away from Colombo and 150 ft above from the sea level.  The warm humid climate together with high rain fall is ideal for low grown teas. 55% of the Sri Lanka black tea is produced in the low country and the average price is usually higher than the high and medium grown tea.

History
The Uruwala tea factory was founded by the late Mr. D A Wanigasekara way back in 1920. The factory mainly concentrates on estate leaves which produced only 24,000 kgs of made tea per annum.

Since his demise his son late Mr. D C Wanigasekara continued the business until 1992.

In the year 1970 the new factory was constructed. Its capacity was increased to 600,000 kgs of made tea per annum.  After the demise his wife and her 7 children took over this business enterprise. In 1995 the business was registered as a limited liability Company and all 8 share- holders were appointed as directors of the Company. 

In the year 1992 the Uruwala Tea Factory was awarded as the prestigious tea board award as the best low grown tea factory followed by in the year 1996 as the 2nd best tea factory in the Matara District.

Expansion
With new blood in the systems new thinking resulted in a massive expansion process of the factory and the automation processes of the factory were begun.

In the year 1998 the extension of the factory resulted in the longest tea factory in the island which is 351 ft.    More vehicles were deployed to transport green leaves which has increased the factory’s vehicle fleet by 40%.

5 – S
With the expansion the management was concentrating in maintaining international standards.  Japanese 5 S quality system was introduced in the year 1998.

Seiri – Sorting
Eliminating the  unnecessary items from the work place.
Seiton – Set
Efficient and effective storage methods were introduced.
Seiso – Shine
Maintaining  cleanliness in the work area.
Seiketsu – Standardizing
Concentrating on setting standards.
Shitsuke – Sustaining
New status go and the standards in the work place, organization

Weighing and Withering   
The green leaf is spread and kept for 12-15 hours depending on climatic condition to reduce the moisture.

Rolling
At this humidity control room the withered leaves is fed to the roller.
Rolling pressures the leaf and squeezes out the juices which provides the tea   its characteristic flavor and also gives the leaf that twist or curved shape.  Depending on the market demand the tea leave is rolled three to four times.  At the end of each rolling the leaf is fed through bakers to untangle the leaf. 

Fermentation Section

The Drier Section
The leaf is then fed into the drying machine large iron chambers are fitted with trays which circulate hot air heated by the furnace is forced into the chamber arresting the oxidation process. This stage takes about half an hour and it ensures that the new black tea leaf will keep until it is brewed   it reaches to whatever   far off country.

Paddy husk hot water generator
Tea shifters
Middleton
Winnowers
Colour separators
All of these will added to the existing machinery while maintaining the same work force.  The factory staff tasks were made easier and productivity was increased immensely.

 The filling system and the office staff

Factory stores
Our factory stores are well equipped maintained by skilled staff.  We follow the 5-S concept and stores management too comes within that scheme. All equipment are numbered and kept in a methodical, efficient and effective way and the premises are maintained in a very professional manner. 

Back-up generator
In 1978 an expansion programme began and by 1992 the capacity was increased to 60,000 kgs.  Over the ensuing years the capacity was doubled.  The current annual production is over 1,200,000 kgs. of made tea per annum while keeping the high monthly sales average with the level of production.  We have been rated within the top 10 tea factories among 700 tea factories in Sri Lanka.

At this point of time, over 1,000 green leave suppliers are registered with the factory.

Safety   
While increasing the machines and the quality of the working environment the management has also given very high emphasis towards safety. Office staff is given uniforms, face masks, caps, glows, which has resulted in very low number of work place accidents.  A trained medical officer is also available for any unforeseen situation.

Welfare
The staff is provided with transport to and from their homes to the factory.

Rest room for the use of the staff
As a practice the management takes the ideas from the staff in the decision making process.  Other than government enforced statutory payments such as EPF and ETF the management has established a death benevolent fund to assist the staff in the hours of needs. In addition to all these, the management has been generous to provide free meals during the night shift and also an annual bonus in the month of April for all the staff.

Well managed hostel for the out station staff is another facility provided by the management. A modern set of line rooms is provided for the residents of the estate staff.

A day care center for the children is maintained by the management.
The staff is taken on pilgrimage to a place of worship annually.
This graph is a very clear indicator of the relationship between the staff and the management.

Leaves Suppliers
Training and Education
Inspection of the land
Soil testing

The supply of fertilizer on easy payment schemes
All of these are contributed to a very high income in the yield and in the income levels of the green leaf suppliers.  It had also strengthened the friendly relationship between the green leaf suppliers and the management.

Achievements
In the year 2002, the factory was awarded the merit award by the JASTECA and also awarded with the Ceylon Tea Quality Certificate by the Sri Lanka Tea Board.

In the year 2003, the factory passed many milestones by achieving bronze awards for being the whole island Sri Lanka Entrepreneur and the gold award for the Southern Province in the competition of Sri Lanka Entrepreneur of the year.

The bronze state of the art machinery has brought about recognition in the tea industry and has resulted in quality tea made by Uruwala tea factory securing very high prices at the weekly tea auctions.

With the American’s invading the Middle-East our main buyer of long term was compelled to buy low quality tea from various other countries resulting in a loss of market for our tea. European Union has enforced HACCP or Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points System for the tea industry. In order to find new market for our tea we were compelled to adhere to the buyers’ requirements.

Our factory has accepted the challenge. In January 2006, the prestige HACCP award was given to our factory.

Ceylon Quality Certificate of “CQC”
The factory was awarded with the Ceylon Quality Certificate by the Sri Lanka Tea Board in the January 2006.