Tech­ni­cian makes use­ful in­no­va­tion a life­time pur­suit

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - 19th CPC National Congress - By ZHU LIXIN in Suzhou, An­hui zhulixin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Xu Qi­jin spends his work­ing days check­ing and re­pair­ing high-volt­age power com­po­nents or in his work­shop in­vent­ing new de­vices.

Xu, 54 and a Party mem­ber, has been work­ing in the lo­cal power com­pany in Suzhou, An­hui prov­ince, for 35 years. He has won seven patents and five more are pend­ing.

The de­vices in­vented by Xu have be­come pop­u­lar within the State Grid.

“Some can bet­ter safe­guard tech­ni­cians’ se­cu­rity and oth­ers im­prove ef­fi­ciency,” Xu said.

“Ev­ery time he has in­vented a new de­vice that is for use on the high-volt­age power lines, Xu is al­ways the first to try it,” said Wu Wei, Xu’s col­league and also his ap­pren­tice.

Xu has been elected one of the two rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the city to the 19th Na­tional Congress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China, which starts on Wed­nes­day.

He has only a high school ed­u­ca­tion, but many con­sider him the best tech­ni­cian in the com­pany.

Xu grew up in the coun­try­side, and came in con­tact with elec­tric light for the first time when he started high school in Suzhou.

“It re­ally seemed like magic be­cause I had never seen such a thing that can give out light with­out burn­ing kerosene, which was com­monly used for lamps,” he said.

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion from high school in 1980, Xu was sent to ru­ral ar­eas. But he re­turned the fol­low­ing year af­ter a no­tice was is­sued — 13 gov­ern­ment de­part­ments were re­cruit­ing young em­ploy­ees.

“At that time, China was still a planned econ­omy and didn’t have enough grains, goods or ma­te­ri­als,” Xu said. The best jobs at the time were with the lo­cal bu­reaus that ad­min­is­tered sup­plies of what was most needed.

“The elec­tri­cal power de­part­ment was not pop­u­lar then,” he said. He de­cided to try for a po­si­tion at the power bu­reau, which is now the lo­cal power sup­plier for the State Grid.

“I thought the job would be to in­stall elec­tri­cal wires in res­i­dences and col­lect fees from the users,” said Xu. Af­ter about 20 days of train­ing, Xu be­gan to re­al­ize that the magic of elec­tric­ity didn’t hap­pen so eas­ily.

“We were often sent to the coun­try­side to check and re­pair high-volt­age power trans­mis­sion lines and tow­ers,” said Xu, who is in a team that is re­spon­si­ble for main­te­nance and re­pair of power lines and com­po­nents such as trans­form­ers. Xu be­longs to one of the team’s three groups, which is called a “hot” line work­ing group.

“It means we would mostly work on lines and tow­ers with­out in­ter­rupt­ing the power sup­ply,” Xu said.

When he joined, the whole team had 42 tech­ni­cians and were re­spon­si­ble for Suzhou’s 295.8 kilo­me­ters of 110-kilo­volt lines, the high­est volt­age lines at the time, ac­cord­ing to his­tor­i­cal records.

Now, the city has 2,075 km of high-volt­age trans­mis­sion lines that carry volt­ages above 110 kV, while the team has only 39 mem­bers.

“Elec­tric­ity is now key to not only ci­ti­zens’ daily lives, but also de­vel­op­ment of the lo­cal econ­omy,” Xu said. “Peo­ple com­plain a lot about power in­ter­rup­tions but they know lit­tle about how hard we have been try­ing to pre­vent fail­ures.”

Xu said he loves the job so much that he is al­ways think­ing about how to im­prove his work.

In ad­di­tion to his in­ven­tions, he often pro­poses so­lu­tions to ma­jor tech­ni­cal prob­lems.

When a new high­way was fin­ished in 2011 con­nect­ing He­fei, cap­i­tal of An­hui prov­ince, and Xuzhou in Jiangsu prov­ince, the level of the ground at a spot in Suzhou was raised sig­nif­i­cantly. There no longer was a safe dis­tance be­tween the road sur­face and power lines.

When the com­pany de­cided on the usual so­lu­tion of build­ing a new tower and new lines, Xu sug­gested some­thing that hadn’t been tried be­fore — re­ar­rang­ing the lines on the old tow­ers.

It worked and helped save more than 400,000 yuan ($60,700) in costs while short­en­ing the project time from more than a month to just four days.

In 2008, some ru­ral res­i­dents added a floor to their houses, which were un­der a high-volt­age line.

“A res­i­dent in one of the houses was in­jured by an elec­tric shock and another house caught fire,” Xu said. Both home­own­ers re­fused to de­mol­ish their houses.

While there are six lines be­tween tow­ers, the low­est four carry elec­tric­ity and the top two don’t. So Xu moved the lines around so that the fam­i­lies would not be in dan­ger any­more.

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