The 15th Aerospace Laureate Awards were unveiled in Zhuhai, in South China's Guangdong Province, on November 7. Han Liping, a senior technician in the machining center of Shanxi Aerospace Tsinghua Equipment Co., Ltd, won the Great National Craftsman Award. Han always challenges herself to make breakthroughs, thus making outstanding contributions to China's space industry. Her achievements have won her numerous national awards. She was a delegate to both the 19th and 20th national congresses of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
During a meeting with her colleagues on November 2, Han shared her thoughts about the spirit of the 20th CPC National Congress. "The report of the 20th CPC National Congress noted, 'The great achievements of the new era have come from the collective dedication and hard work of our Party and our people.' These words have deeply moved us, and also encouraged us to move on. As skilled workers in the new era, we should work hard in our posts, and make contributions to the great cause of 'Made in China' and 'Created in China'," Han said. Her colleagues agreed with her. Many of her colleagues said they would learn from role models, like Han, and they vowed to continue working hard and pooling their strengths to help build China into a powerful aerospace country.
Being an Expert
Han was born in 1971 into a family that had many members working in the aerospace industry. The company Han works for is affiliated with China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The company is the first aerospace-ground-equipment manufacturer in China. Its products used in the launch platform for carrier rockets have provided a solid foundation for the success of the Long March series of launch vehicles.
In 1991, Han graduated from high school, and then she became a milling worker in the company. She still remembers what her master, Zhang Jianguo, told her on her first day at work. "You need to make tireless efforts to master the skills, and to make qualified aerospace products," she recalls Zhang saying.
Whenever she had time, Han would read professional books and discuss with her master whenever she didn't understand the materials. One day, an idea struck her — she cut potatoes and radishes into various models and used them to better understand the drawings. Due to her unremitting practice, Han made rapid progress in her work.
In 2000, the company's factories were equipped with CNC (computer numerical control) machine tools. "I was almost 30, and my daughter was just 4. I was wondering whether I should still work on the production line or step back and hold a different post. Finally, I decided to try my best to master the new machine," Han says.
As a green hand with the new machine, Han started to learn by herself, while working with the machine. In the daytime, she would learn carefully, following the guidance of the instruction book; at night, she focused on learning the theoretical knowledge of CNC. It took her several months to master the skills of operating the machine.
During the following years, Han participated in various technical-training courses, and she gradually became a skilled technician proficient in the technology, programming and operation of the machine. In essence, she became an expert in the field of CNC machining.
Thanks to her excellent skills, Han won first prize and the title of the National Technical Expert during a national CNC skills competition in 2007. She was the only woman competitor. "Nothing is impossible as long as one has the courage to pursue the dreams," she says.
A special kind of four-way valve, a key component on the launch platform, is used to control the leveling accuracy of the support arm during the launch of the new generation of carrier rocket, Long March 5. There are more than 70 valve ports, of various specifications, on the valve's body, and the machining accuracy of each valve port must be within 0.02 millimeter; otherwise, it will result in an error during launch, and that will prevent the rocket from entering orbit accurately.
After repeated analysis and practice, Han realized the best approach to making qualified valves began with sensing the vibration frequency of the machine tool, by listening to the cutting sound. She also observed the changes in the shapes of the iron filings, and she touched the surface of the workpiece regularly, to identify the tool wear and accurately adjust the program parameters. Her efforts guaranteed all of the products met qualifications.
On June 25, 2016, the launch (in South China's Hainan Province) of the new generation carrier rocket, Long March 7, was a success. "I shed tears when I watched the launch on television. The perfect flight of Long March 7 was the highest honor for all the workers in space industry," Han says. One of the key control parts was processed by her team.
After having evaluated dozens of schemes, conducted hundreds of cutting tests and analyzed reams of data, Han and her colleagues finally worked out the right process scheme; as a result, they achieved accurate control of the entire process, and they ensured one-time processing success. "At that moment, I felt, as an ordinary worker, I was closely connected with my great motherland," Han says.
In 2019, the company agreed to process an aluminum-forging product. During the initial stages of research and development, as there wasn't appropriate processing instructions to follow, especially in terms of complex aluminum-forging processing, Han and her colleagues failed to meet qualifications, despite repeated attempts.
Han and several other technicians studied the features of the product, and they listed and analyzed all relevant data. They then used computer-aided-programming software to create the processing program. Finally, they produced the parts, which met required specifications.
From an ordinary milling worker to a technical expert, Han has overcome numerous technical difficulties, and she has achieved personal growth and development.
With her strong sense of responsibility, and her meticulous spirit, Han has made continuous contributions in China's efforts to realize its aerospace dream.
"My work has not only given me a sense of achievement, but also compelled me to train my apprentices and team members to excel in their own work," Han says.
As the company's lecturer on CNC skills, Han has trained more than 300 operators in the company, and she has helped them master her unique skills. She has also worked with other technicians to compile a series of textbooks on CNC operation and tool application.
Han Liping Technical Expert Studio, named after Han, has become a national-level, technical-expert studio. It is composed of a group of senior technicians, who combined have completed more than 500 innovation projects, won 26 patents in the field of CNC milling, and have contributed to the implementation of national key space projects, such as manned space flights, lunar exploration, BeiDou navigation and the construction of the space station.
Many members of Han's studio have won prizes in national, provincial and/or municipal CNC skills competitions. New Era Craftsman College, established with the help of the studio, has become a cradle for enterprises to train top-level technicians who have the spirit of craftsmanship.
Han and her women colleagues have established the Han Liping Team, and the team has been awarded the title of national women workers' model post for their excellent work. "Women technicians have strong advantages in operation posts, especially in the field of precision machining, because they are dedicated, careful, and resilient," Han says.
She believes, with the transition from traditional manufacturing to digital and intelligent manufacturing, women technicians have become an indispensable work force in CNC and intelligent manufacturing workshops.
Numerous certificates, medals and plaques are displayed in Han's studio, and each reflects the diligence and brilliance of Han, as a Great National Craftsman. "I am just an ordinary worker on the production line who has done my job well. These honors belong to all those who have made contributions to the country in their ordinary work posts," Han says.
Photos Supplied by Shanxi Aerospace Tsinghua Equipment Co., Ltd
(Women of China English Monthly December 2022 issue)
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