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Craftsman masters the art of locomotive parts

Updated: May 20, 2022 By Yuan Shenggao China Daily Print
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Li Xiaofeng inspects a locomotive motor component at CRRC Yongji Motors. DAI CHENKAI/FOR CHINA DAILY

In an era of automation and digitalization, craftsmanship-qualities which include skill, experience, dedication and initiative-still remains crucial in modern manufacturing. The story of an award-winning worker in Shanxi has demonstrated this.

Li Xiaofeng, a machine tools operator at CRRC Yongji Motors based in the southern Shanxi city of Yongji, was granted the National May 1 Award during the May Day holiday for his performance that has contributed to the growth of one of the leading advanced manufacturing enterprises in the province.

It is the latest in a string of honors he has won over the years. Li said he is an ordinary worker like many of his colleagues in his company. But he is a master in his post in the eyes of many, including the instructor who first trained him.

Specializing in the making of molds for locomotive motor components, Li is now a versatile operator of many kinds of machine tools, ranging from turning, milling, boring and planing to pressing.

Producing components for locomotive motors, which can deliver speeds up to 350 kilometers per hour, requires incredible accuracy. When it comes to making the molds for components, the accuracy tolerance is between 0.03-0.05 millimeters, according to Li.

But for Li himself, the accuracy rate is controlled to 0.02 mm, equal to one-fourth of a strand of hair.

Li, 37, began his career as a machine tools operator and mold maker in CRRC Yongji Motors in 2005.

Ci Guoqiang, 51, who instructed Li when he started, said: "It is almost a miracle for an ordinary worker to grow into such a skilled expert in his trade in a period of 17 years."

Ci went on to say that the secrets behind his incredible growth are his unimaginable diligence, cleverness and strong will to learn.

"He has been keen to learn everything, from hands-on skills to the latest techniques," Ci said. "And he is always trying to find the best solutions to the challenges in his job."

According to Ci, Li is now among the best workers in the company who can use computer-aided manufacturing systems to guide his work and create solutions.

Over recent years, Li has proposed 25 solutions to improve manufacturing techniques and to overcome difficulties.

Now an instructor in his workplace, Li is keen to share his experiences with his apprentices.

Among the nine workers that received his coaching, seven have won awards in skills competitions at various levels.

Wu Jia contributed to this story.

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