Shandong as a manufacturing hub focuses on product quality as way to stand out
By Wang Fang
“Have you heard of the wrench with wifi functionality?”
Wang Shengzhong, a senior technician at the Wendeng Maxpower Tool Group in Weihai, Shandong Province, produces a high-tech looking set of tools.
“The highly intelligent torque wrench with digital display is mainly used to assemble high-speed railway lines,” Wang explains. “How much force is used to mount a screw, how many screws need to be mounted, operation time and other relevant data are all displayed on the electric torque tool. The data stored in it can also be uploaded to computers and mobile devices. Therefore, the monitoring staff can be informed of the production process, quality Shandong as a manufacturing hub focuses on product quality as way to stand out and speed anytime, anywhere, to avoid any deviation.”
In his career ranging from roles as an apprentice to a senior maintenance fitter, Wang Shengzhong has completed dozens of technical upgrading projects, developed over 50 products, acquired five national utility model patents and drafted two national industry standards for locking pliers. He has interpreted the craftsmanship spirit of the new era through practical actions.
“A man should do things in a down-to-earth manner,” he explains. “Only when he acquires practical ability can the craftsmanship spirit be cultivated.”
“Craftsmanship spirit” first appeared in a government work report released on March 5, 2016, and has since become a buzzword across China.
“We will encourage enterprises to use flexible and custom-tailored production processes and foster a craftsmanship spirit of striving for the best, so that more types of products, products of a higher quality, and brand products will be made,” the report read.
Nowadays, “Made in China” is taking a great stride forward to “Intelligent Manufacturing in China”, and the craftsmanship spirit is becoming the soul of Chinese manufacturing.
Today’s China has become one of the most remarkable manufacturing powers in the world. Shandong, a major industrial province, holds an important position in manufacturing across the country.
The assembly of a vehicle that needs hundreds and thousands of parts undergoes 53 processes and 11 quality gates, each of which requires quality control.
Creating Shandong’s ‘Made in China’ Products
As a cradle of Chinese civilization, Shandong has given birth to a number of skillful craftsmen since ancient times.
“In recent years, Shandong has carried forward the craftsmanship spirit, promoted manufacturing transformation and upgraded the structural reform of supply, and achieved positive progress as well as prominent results in creating Shandong’s ‘Made in China’ products,” explained Wang Shinong, deputy director of the Publicity Department of the Shandong Provincial Party Committee.
In May 2015, the State Council officially issued the Made in China 2025 initiative. According to the initiative, China will carry out the strategy of strengthening itself through manufacturing in an all-round way, build a manufacturing culture with Chinese characteristics and make its manufacturing stronger. In April 2016, the Made in China 2025 Shandong Action Plan was unveiled. The plan proposes the active creation of Shandong’s “Made in China” products. It’s hoped that, by 2025, the overall quality and comprehensive level of the province’s manufacturing can be significantly enhanced, and the goal of becoming a strong province in manufacturing can be realized.
“Manufacturing is Shandong’s pillar industry, and it holds a key position in national manufacturing activities,” said Li Sha, deputy director of Shandong Economy and Information Technology Commission. “Through years of development since the reform and opening-up policy was launched, Shandong has built a manufacturing system with a solid foundation and a complete range, which has become an important support for its economy.”
Public data show that, from January to October 2016, the added value of large-scale industries and the output of new-energy vehicles, smart TVs and industrial robots representing advanced highend manufacturing in Shandong rose by 7.8 percent, 80 percent, 72.1 percent and 50 percent, respectively. The added values of its high technology and equipment manufacturing industries grew by 8.4 percent and 7.3 percent year-on-year, respectively.
Manufacturing is the main body of the national economy, a major battlefield for scientific innovation and the foundation, instrument and fundamental factor of building, rejuvenating and strengthening a country. Sticking to the spirit of craftsmanship is a national strategy to boost the Chinese economy and a key move in carrying out the strategic plan of Made in China 2025. As an industrial manufacturing giant, Shandong is committed to creating its own “Made in China” products, and the craftsmanship spirit is of crucial importance as it takes the initiative and gains advantages in the new industrial wave.
The spirit of craftsmanship is not only the embodiment of skill and spiritual quality, but also that of a country’s industrial civilization. To China, the quality of its industrial products has a direct bearing on whether it can truly complete its industrialization. There are a number of companies which consider product quality to be the single most important aspect of manufacturing.
“Make Quality Products Marked by Moral Quality; Contribute to the Society with Such Products” is the slogan put up in every industrial park at Sinotruk. It is not just a publicity slogan, but also shows the heavy responsibility for “Made in China” products and the pursuit of perfection.
“Every product made by us has an ID. If there is a quality problem, it can be traced back to the source,” said Guo Hua, director of the MC Processing Department at Sinotruk Jinan Power. “The improvement of automation and intelligence has set a new requirement for the craftsmanship spirit. A production line that used to have 120 to 150 workers only needs 11 now, and output is tripled.”
A young man surnamed Han, born in the 1990s, is an assembly line worker. His job is to check for bumps, corrosion and scratches on the cylinder liner surface. Han is well aware that for vehicle manufacturers, paying careful attention to details is the key to guaranteeing product quality.
“I need to make sure that nothing will go wrong here,” Han said.
Making sure nothing will go wrong is the most common daily embodiment of the craftsmanship spirit.
“We also set up a space for nonconforming products,” Guo added. “The assembly of a vehicle that needs hundreds and thousands of parts undergoes 53 processes and 11 quality gates, each of which requires quality control.”
“Shandong has designed a blueprint for strengthening itself by improving product quality. The action of building Shandong Standard has been fully launched,” said Gu Yuanqiang, an inspector from Shandong Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision. “Meanwhile, the Shandong Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision has drawn up the Opinions on Implementing the Project of Improving Quality and Branding to Promote the Development of Enterprises of All Sizes, which proposes an increase in the quality management level of more than 40,000 small-and medium-sized enterprises across Shandong, developing at least 1,000 brand-name enterprises and products based on the improvement of standards, quality and international certification, focusing on building over 100 famous bench-marking enterprises and products and setting up 10 industries, 10 areas and 10 brands of great quality in three to five years.”
Manufacturing Takes on a Brand-New Look
In 2015, Shandong’s gross industrial output value reached 2.6 trillion yuan (US$380 billion), accounting for 41.3 percent of its total output value. It ranked second in terms of both gross industrial output and economic benefit in China. However, it still has some way to go to become a powerful industrial province, despite its huge industrial output. Besides the 10 fields prioritized for development according to Made in China 2025, there are several product categories that Shandong is focusing on. These include food, textiles and clothing, papermaking, tires, petrochemicals and other traditional industries.
On Dec. 7, 2016, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released the Intelligent Manufacturing Development Plan (2016-2020). The plan clearly sets forth a two-step strategy to promote intelligent manufacturing by 2025. First, the development foundation and supporting capacity of intelligent manufacturing are to be significantly strengthened. Digital production is to be basically realized in the key sectors of traditional manufacturing. Key industries with certain economic strengths are to make obvious progresses in intelligent transformation up to 2020.
As the main body of the market, enterprises are major forces to facilitate intelligent manufacturing. Driven by informatization and intelligentization, Shandong’s manufacturing has taken on a different look.
Sinotruk’s products are exported to 96 countries, making it China’s largest production base for heavy-duty vehicles.
With the “internet-plus” management of logistics services, logistics managers can see the location of trucks on their mobile phones or computers in real-time. Additionally, they can anticipate maintenance needs thanks to real-time detection of truck damage.
“The intelligent truck can not only perform smart driving to reduce accidents, but monitor logistics operations anytime in the “internet-plus” truck mode to realize the coordination of people, vehicles and goods,” said Tian Lei, vice director of the Auto Electronic Design Department at the Sinotruk Technology Development Center.
Sinotruk’s products are exported to 96 countries, making it China’s largest production base for heavy-duty vehicles which has topped the national list of heavy-duty vehicle exports in China for 12 consecutive years.
In the monitor room at the Chijiu Clock-Watch Group in Yantai lies China’s only clock network service center. The center is also the group’s “nerve center”. A technician from the company demonstrates the capabilities of the center for visiting reporters. As soon as he enters the service center page, the operation of every clock is shown.
“This is the clock on the roof of the Beijing Telegraph Building,” the technician explains. “We can not only see the hands moving through, but can also adjust the lighting, hourly chime and background music.”
The Chijiu Clock-Watch Group is the first to have built a clock network system across China. The system can connect clockbased networks installed by the group worldwide with its central control room so that remote maintenance operations can be performed anytime. Therefore, its product reliability has increased by 30 percent with a drop in maintenance costs of 60 percent, and traditional methods of maintaining clocks that require lots of time, labor and work have completely changed.
“Modern internet information technology has drastically promoted the transformation and upgrading of the traditional clock industry and triggered a great revolution shifting from a product model to a service model,” said Zhu Changhong, chairman of the group.
Manufacturing Needs Skilled Craftsmen
Shandong’s manufacturing revolution pertains not just to new industries, but traditional ones as well.
A box of ejiao (a kind of donkey hide gelatin commonly used in Chinese medicine) is prepared through 99 procedures and over 300 sub-procedures, which takes more than 80 days. At the Hong Ji Tang Ejiao Workshop, Wu Xianglun, the third-generation successor of the century-old enterprise, is hard at work. Wu, named as a 2016 representative of Shandong Craftsmen, is quietly brewing ejiao in front of a gold pot.
“Ejiao made with gold and silver cookware features stable quality and more remarkable efficacy,” Wu explains. “In ancient times, ejiao made this way was only served for the royal family. But now the ordinary people can also have the best ejiao since the ‘gold and silver cookware’ tradition was resumed in 2016.”
Every procedure in making ejiao is done by hand. One mistake in a procedure may spoil the whole pot. Thus, it requires a lot of experience and technology to make high quality ejiao. Removing impurities alone takes non-stop work, day and night. Wu, who has made ejiao for nearly 40 years, is very experienced in this. He knows when to adjust strength, when to get rid of impurities and how to prepare fine quality ejiao.
Despite complex procedures, no manual work shall be reduced. Despite expensive ingredients, no materials shall be cut down. As a successor, Wu is still abiding by the traditional adage of Hong Ji Tang, and is sticking to the old way of making ejiao by hand with his colleagues in this highly mechanized world.
Xu Yuezhu, like Wu, is a wellknown craftsman. Xu makes colored glaze works.
In Boshan District of Zibo City, Shandong, Xu is often seen holding an iron rod and rushing between production stands and furnaces, the temperature of which is over 1,000 degrees Celsius. After firing and shaping dozens of times by blowing, twisting, pulling and stretching, crystal clear and vivid colored glaze works are created.
The Boshan Ceramic Colored Glaze Art Center is filled with modern colored glaze artworks. Xu said that he was born in a colored glaze workshop and learned the skills and techniques of the craft from his parents. Upon graduation from high school, he started his official career at the Boshan Colored Glaze Factory. He has worked on such artwork for more than 30 years.
Xu was named “China’s first master of colored glaze art” in 2011. In August 2016, he was selected as a representative of Shandong Craftsmen. From a craftsman to an art master, Xu has carried forward Boshan craftsmen’s fine skills and hard-working spirit. In the long course of practice, he has constantly explored new skills and techniques for colored glaze making, and formed his own unique craft and art style. The Renli colored glaze series he created seems to have opened up a new chapter in this industry.