By WANG BO
By WANG BO
WITH such easy and affordable access to so many new technologies these days, the awe we used to have for rocket launches seems to be a thing of the past. But to Yang Yinyu’s team, every successful liftoff is inspiring and makes every single member proud and impassioned for greater success.
“Ignition detonator devices are something like the fuses of firecrackers. Without them, a rocket cannot be initiated,” said Yang Yinyu. For decades, Yang Yinyu’s team has been devoted to producing such devices with meticulous attention to detail, improving their craftsmanship, and incessantly striving for the best.
Yang Yinyu presents introductory information about his team to visitors.
The team specializes in bench work in one of the machining shops of Chuannan Pyrotechnics Co. Ltd., an ignition device maker in China’s Sichuan Province, which is affiliated with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. In honor of its outstanding accomplishments, the team was named after its leader Yang Yinyu in 2004.
Born in 1965 to a family devoted to China’s aerospace cause, Yang had been inculcated with the idea of pursuing excellence by the preceding generation since he was a young boy. Joining the workforce as a technician, he put in great effort to improve his skills by learning from senior level and experienced workers while also learning fundamental theories of bench work by himself. Regarding study and practice a life-long task, he has gained a good command of bench work and assembly skills for products used in aerospace industry, and also contributed to multiple innovative solutions in his field.
In June 1981, Yang suffered an accident just three months after he joined the company. He lost the tip of his right middle finger due to a machinery accident. “Nearly everyone working on the punching machine had their fingers injured at least once,” recalled Yang. At that time, he was well aware of the potential hazards of the job. After the incident, he printed a model of his broken hand on the wall to remind fellow workers of the potential work dangers.
Yang, being in the trade for 37 years, has been reviewing the past practices and concluded that safe operation cannot depend solely on personal experience, but must follow standardized procedures to prevent similar accidents from occurring. In 2004, after repeated investigations and trials, he, together with his team, put together a standardized operational procedure. Since then, the team has been keeping a zero-accident record. Safety is always the priority to every member of the crew. “The regulations and rules are not set out to confine you in boxes, but to ensure you guys to retire with intact figures,” Yang stressed, tongue in cheek, over and over again.
Small as it may be, successfully initiating the explosive device is a make-or-break factor for launching a rocket. In view of this, every operation by Yang Yinyu has been done with meticulous attention to detail in an attempt to avoid even the slightest error. “One single ignition device is vital to the entire launch,” he said. For decades, Yang has been driven by a zeal for excellence. The result is that the device his crew produced boasts being almost 100 percent perfect.
Passing on the Skill and Spirit of Craftsmanship
One day in 1994, an urgent order came to the company, but Yang, the only one possessing the know-how, was on a business trip. The company had no choice but to assemble a team from scratch, which turned out to be in vain. Eventually, Yang had to rush back. After that experience, he realized that the core technology cannot be controlled by one single person.
In 2015, Yang’s team was upgraded to a national workshop for masters of skills, and a talent incubation center. Wang Chenglong is a young apprentice in the workshop, who, under Yang’s mentorship, invented a robot that can automate tedious manual labor, which before required four workers.
“Even without me, the workshop is capable of manufacturing the products,” said Yang.
“We all admire this charismatic man of a strong sense of responsibility,” Liang Kejuan, a member of the workshop, said of Yang.
Inspiring every member and treating them as talents are the secret of Yang’s management. He believed employees could gain self-assurance and become more committed to the aerospace cause if they are properly motivated with incentives.
Over the recent years, his team has maintained a passing rate of 98 percent in production, with no batch being rejected or no quality accident caused by human error. The devices made by Yang and his team met or exceeded operational expectations on multiple flight and ground rocket tests, propelling the advancement of China’s aerospace cause.
For Common Excellence
The ignition device for the aerospace industry has to meet a very high standard. Devoting decades of efforts to crafting such devices and their research and development, Chuannan Pyrotechnics has fostered a concept about product quality, which asserts the production of the ignition device is a make-or-break matter. Following this concept, Yang Yinyu gradually picked up some management wisdom during the three decades of work, and developed a set of rules for managing his team. “A team is like a tree. The exuberance of the tree depends on every branch, which is every team member,” he said. The key formula of his management is to inspire and reward everyone so as to achieve common excellence.
For efficient teamwork, he believes there should be a highly harmonious relationship among its members, and a core corporate culture of common excellence in place. In practice, every member strives for the best personally and then helps others achieve the same feat. Ultimately, common excellence becomes a reality.
Under this model, Yang’s team has developed a unique cultural atmosphere where leadership is shared, and everyone is active in innovation and contributing their full capabilities. Members’ state of mind is not confined to the pursuit of personal interests, but elevated to working for the common good of the team and the country.
With good management in place, the team has been successfully completing the research and production tasks assigned, witnessing continuously improving productivity. With a very high output, the team has still been able to maintain exceptionally low rejection rates. Efficiency and production quality also continue to improve despite a decrease in members.
In terms of cost control, the team works to enhance efficiency but reduce consumption. An evaluation system is put in place based on indicators such as resources squandered and recycling of used material. Every member of the team values efficiency and has been proactively engaged in cost control. From the management level, the team formulates a yearly plan on consumption reduction, and holds team members equally accountable for the year-end targets so as to control costs to the utmost extent.
Driven by innovation, the team encourages members to take bold attempts and improve product quality. In 2014, it accomplished some 50 new innovations, many of which were up to national standards, saving RMB 500,000 for the company.
WANG BO is a reporter with People’s Daily Online.