China today

Crane operator rises above as delegate

2017-10-10 06:51:00 (Beijing Time)         Chinadaily.com.cn

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Perched in the 46-meter-high mostly glass cab, Zhang Yan, a tower crane operator, uses cables and his judgment to hoist multi-ton containers from cargo ships, and then stack them up on the ground carefully and firmly.

It is a muscular and a delicate job and has been Zhang's routine for 12 years in Shanghai Shengdong International Container Terminal.

Along with the views, the 34-year-old also has accumulated various accolades, such as a national model worker and an excellent member of the Communist Party of China, and he has set and reset the world record as the most efficient tower crane operator seven times within four years.

"For me, at the time, it was an unexpected surprise," Zhang recalled of his first world record in 2007, when he was 24 and had just two years experience.

It was May that year when one of the world's largest container ships docked at a pier supervised by the container terminal that Zhang worked in.

The company's leaders decided to hold a competition to test each team's efficiency. Zhang was chosen from among his group.

After 7 1/2 hours of intensive work, Zhang's team completed loading and unloading 5,182 containers at the fastest speed, 690 per hour. Zhang's crane alone hoisted 97 containers per hour, far more than the usual 30 per hour, and he set a world record.

Later, in 2008, 2009 and 2010, he repeatedly broke his own record and finally reached 197 containers per hour in 2011, which remains unsurpassed.

"Actually, the start of my career as a tower crane apprentice in 2005 was not that successful," said Zhang, who was a mobile crane operator in 2004.

"I had to adapt to changes, and my skills improved very slowly."

He explained that working with mobile cranes, one only dealt with steady containers on the ground, while maneuvering a tower crane meant facing numerous containers on ships that were easily affected by the wind and water currents.

"Moreover, the workload here is more than twice that for mobile crane operators every day," he said.

Zhang also has compiled training books on mobile crane basics for new staff, tower crane methodology for experienced operators and on machinery maintenance for engineers or technicians.

Among these books, his first publication, Tower Crane Operational Methodology, truly helps in practice, elaborating specific operating notes, maintenance and safety information.

"The section regarding safety in the book is particularly important, since the foundation of our work is everyone's safety and safe relocation of goods," said Zhang, who hoists more than 90,000 containers each year and maintains his record of safe operation.

"Swinging a several-hundred-kilogram container too fast or too far can get someone killed," he said.

The key rule is to confirm everything in advance, be careful when handling it and summarize after work, Zhang added.

To achieve these targets, Zhang pays attention to the weather and wind speed, observes carefully in the lifting area, communicates with the signalman on the ground and the ship and develops safe lifting plans.

Now, Zhang has his own apprentices each year.

"I will be really happy if new employees can help advance me in the future," he smiled.

Cao Cheng in Shanghai contributed to the story.