Quality Control Inspector in the Dairy Industry
Bai Suqin became a senior inspector after years of hardwork and has applied cutting-edge knowledge and technologies to daily inspection through painstaking effort.
In the southern part of the Sanyuan Food Yinghai Industrial Park in Daxing District, Beijing, there is a spacious inspection room with high-tech inspection equipment. The inspectors wear white lab coats and work to ensure the quality of the dairy products. They follow strict inspection procedures. The inspection room also serves as Chief Technician Bai Suqin's Studio. Bai has 32 years of dairy inspection experience.
Bai became a senior inspector after beginning as an amateur and has applied cutting-edge knowledge and technologies to daily inspection through painstaking effort. Her remarkable performance has been praised by her colleagues; she has pursued various certifications over the years. She took management classes in her spare time at a local university.
Bai obtained the title of senior food inspector in 1998, passed the first national evaluation for the food inspection major, became a food inspection technician in 2008 and achieved the rank of senior technician in food inspection in 2010. Bai has made outstanding contributions to guaranteeing safe milk for Beijingers.
Saying No to the Ordinary
In 1985, Bai graduated from high school. She was recruited to work at the newlybuilt You'anmen Dairy Factory. About 50 to 60 employees were recruited at that time, but only four of them were assigned to the inspection room, a place that most employees wanted to work in. Bai was assigned to the factory as an ordinary worker.
Bai tried almost every post on the production line, including packer and bottler. The working conditions were very poor at that time. There were highpitched noises and mechanical rumbling. The frosted glass of the assembly line often hurt Bai's hands, leaving permanent scars.
Those who are prepared are often able to seize opportunities. Bai won second place in a quiz held by the factory. She began to be noticed and appreciated more by management at the company. At that time, the factory was expanding its production and inspection teams. The factory leaders selected appropriate workers from the workshop. Bai was chosen and became one of the white-lab-coat-wearing inspectors.
In 1986, Bai was transferred to the laboratory from the factory area. Without related skills, previous experience in this area or appropriate guidance, she had to do a lot of trial and error. She made steady progress though. She still remembers that she once had to make a solution of 30 percent sodium hydroxide. Shaking one of the bottles produced a lot of heat and the cap came flying off, almost causing an injury. Bai realised she had to be more careful and that the laboratory work should be taken seriously.”
In 1989, Bai received a precious exchange opportunity—the factory sent her to the municipal epidemic prevention station for training. She learned from the station's staff and her peers from other factories during the one-month training programme. She became aware of solutions to many problems that puzzled her before. The training laid the foundation for her experiments and helped her understand the importance of normative operation.
Later, You'anmen Dairy Factory established a production line for popsicles and one for pastries and sent Bai to other factories to study production technology and quality control. She seized every opportunity to learn, constantly improving her skills and acquiring more experience. Three precious learning opportunities between 1986 and 1989 allowed Bai to apply specialised technologies to inspection procedures, expand the company's laboratory, enrich its functions and enhance the importance of inspection in production.
Mastering Core Techniques
Because yoghurt is an important product at the dairy factory, Bai embarked on the production of yoghurt fermentation agent after being transferred to the laboratory. She worked on cultivating strains for the first time in 1989. Bai studied the process and the equipment that is used and gradually mastered the core techniques involved in the process.
Bai elaborated: “The fermenting agent makes yoghurt possible. It is easy to learn basic knowledge about it but difficult to master core techniques. Conditions that affect the vitality of the fermentation agent, knowing how to ensure vitality and knowing when it is necessary to reactivate a new fermentation agent are some of the things that have to be considered. The quality of the agent has to be guaranteed for good production also. I observe the mother fermentation agent in the workshop, extending my quality control work from the mother fermentation agent to the entire factory.”
Bai intended to check the quality of the fermentation agent she made and monitor the entire production chain. High-quality fermentation agent results in better production, so the entire production chain should be tightly controlled. After this was recognised by the factory's leaders, Bai carried out more research.
Bai recalled: “I found some problems at the factory. For example, I found that the fermentation agent was not placed properly in the fermentation room and the temperature was uneven, which caused the death of some strains. It was not easy to change the equipment, so we moved the fermentation agents farther apart from each other to form air convection in the unevenly-heated space. I mentioned the problems and presented solutions to various departments for discussion. Finally, my ideas were recognised by everyone. I often communicate with the factory workers regarding testing and to support them also.”
Bai gained valuable experience and became more professional as she solved problems at the factory. At the time, people believed that high-quality fermentation agent and quality control with high standards produced highquality products. A little-known process is also involved, however. Some yoghurt products did not coagulate, and it was