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Front-line workers seizes new opportunities

China Daily| Updated : October 17, 2022

When Bai Xiang got a job as a worker at the Nickel Smelter of Jinchuan Group, he never thought he could lead an automation workshop in such a big nonferrous metal producer.

Bai, 39, said he majored in network engineering in college, which had no connection with the first two positions he took up in Jinchuan.

"But in 2014, I noticed there were changes happening inside our company. At that time, despite the nonferrous metal industry's slowdown and low profit margin, our company had invested 4.7 million yuan ($679,211) into the automation project I am now in charge of," Bai said.

"Jinchuan has shown great foresight in doing so, especially now that the COVID-19 pandemic led to rising labor costs. It was a successful transformation."

In 2015, employees like Bai were encouraged to write computer codes and obtain related certificates. "Our company offers those with certificates material rewards. For example, if you get the certification of safety engineer, you will get 20,000 yuan in rewards and a subsidy of 300-500 yuan per month as long as you work as a safety engineer," Bai said.

"Innovation was an unreachable and high-end thing to me. However, after I wrote some codes for the robots used in our workshop and got rewards, I found innovation is a good and reachable thing."

The most memorable day for Bai was on Aug 26, 2016, when his automation workshop officially started operating. To fix defects, Bai read many books and data he found online, and he discussed each new idea with his team. After working around the clock for six months, Bai and his team finally solved all the problems.

"The operation of our automation workshop means that we have transformed ourselves from blue-collar workers into technicians working on the front line. We used to be the guardian of the machines, but now we know how to program and fix them," Bai said.

Bai has won a number of titles, such as advanced producer of Jinchuan Group; outstanding innovation expert; and "the most beautiful Jinchuan young employee". In 2018, his project on improving the functions of an automated robot arm for nickel electrolysis starter sheets won a first prize of the 12th provincial technological innovation achievement awards and a special prize of technical innovation project of Jinchuan Group.

Bai said: "China is now accelerating the construction of new infrastructure projects, which are correlated with our projects. I am glad to be a part of it."

"Jinchang is a small city and people here are living a very simple life. I have been to Chengdu, Sichuan province, and Beijing to find purpose in life. But I ended up working here as an engineer because of the sense of accomplishment Jinchuan gives to me."

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