Stick to the pipe!

Vladimir Shmelev, Deputy Chief Engineer of JSC AlES, has been working in the energy sector for 40 years

Vladimir Shmelev was born in the village of Maysk, Pavlodar region. His grandfather worked as the chief power engineer of the mine, which produced special clay for the steel industry. Vladimir lived in this village for up to seven years. He always liked his grandfather's tool, but especially pliers.

– It's necessary, grandfather will conjure these pliers in the wires and there is a light in the barn, in the house, on the street in the yard. Well, what is not a miracle! And so this sorcery fascinated me that I could not resist, pulled out these same, fascinating pliers from my grandfather's work bag and decided to do sorcery myself. It was a day off, July, five in the morning, parents and all adults were sleeping a sweet sleep. I was five years old. In the garden, from behind the shed, I pulled out a piece of previously hidden aluminum wire, a pair of long nails, a liter glass jar. Then water was poured into this jar, into which he stuck two nails, winding aluminum wires on them with the help of charming pliers. I don't remember what effect I wanted to achieve at that time, but I didn't find anything surprising by sticking one of the exposed wires into one outlet hole, there in the garden, with the help of pliers with insulated handles. And only when my bare shin accidentally touched the bare wire, some unknown force shook me so that I found myself lying on the ground, with bulging eyes, not understanding what was wrong with me. The whole body was shaking from an incomprehensible fright. My meticulous scream woke up all the adults at home. Running to the place of the scream, the entire electrical circuit was immediately destroyed by them. And I had to listen to the reproaches and surprises of adults for several more days. That's how I had my first experience with electricity and the impression of this meeting.

During his school years, Volodya dreamed of serving in the border troops with his trained dog. Therefore, he specially bought a puppy of an Eastern European shepherd. He was engaged in his upbringing, training, was a member of the service dog breeding in Ermak. Uranus, the dog's name, had awards for training and exterior.

– I've always liked the military, especially the fit officers. I also wanted to become an officer in the future. At passable draft commissions, he constantly asked to go to the border guard and, as an argument, showed a passport for a service dog. But life ordered otherwise. Although in the future, I happened to wear an officer's uniform for some time and even command a platoon first, and then a company of sappers. He could have stayed and continued to be a military man. But I did not change the decision I made once.

After graduating from high school in Ermak, in the Pavlodar region, Vladimir decided to visit his grandparents in Pavlodar in the summer. Walking around the city, he drew attention to one of the posters, which displayed appeals for young people to enroll in the Pavlodar Industrial Institute.

– What was written interested me all the more because one of the specialties was listed – "electrical engineer". And then I remembered my long-ago first acquaintance with the secret forces of electricity. Without thinking for a long time, I submitted the necessary documents for admission to this educational institution. Having successfully passed the entrance exams, he became a student at the faculty of "Electric Stations". Inspiration from the energy industry intensified when writing a thesis project, the theme of which was the reconstruction of the Ermakovskaya GRES with the development of electric protections on reed switches.

After graduating from the Pavlodar Industrial Institute, Vladimir came by distribution to the Alma-Ata power system at CHP-1. In this system, he remained working until retirement age.

– In 1982, I started my career at the CHP-1 in Alma-Ata as an electrician of the 4th category for the repair of electrical equipment. Then he worked as a repairman of high-voltage equipment, shift supervisor of an electrical workshop, shift supervisor of a station, senior shift supervisor of a station, head of a boiler shop, deputy chief engineer. In total, he worked at CHP-1 until September 1994.

In the same year, Vladimir was transferred from the CHP-1 to the deputy head of the Repair Service of the Almatyenergo Department. Two years later, he was already working as the head of the service. Then, until 2007, he headed the company's divisions that dealt with repair, capital construction, and long-term development. At that time, the structure of CJSC "APC" (as the Company was now called), in addition to energy sources, included urban heating networks (today LLP "AlTS"), as well as urban and regional electric networks (today JSC "AZhK"). With such a composition of JSC "APC", the main emphasis on capital construction and long-term development was placed on the design and construction of new high-voltage electrical substations with a voltage of 6/10/35/110/220 kV, as well as the re-laying of main heating networks. Only at CHP-1 in 1996-1997, turbine unit No.8 was replaced as part of a turbine and generator.

Now Vladimir Shmelev works as the head of the Repair Department – Deputy Chief Engineer in the same company, only now it is called JSC "AlES" and it includes only energy sources.

– Our company unites several types of energy sources, including CHP, GRES (now CHP-3), hydroelectric power plants, WTC boilers. I do not know where such diversity is still available in one Society. What I like most about our company is that any station is a large laboratory in which visible and tangible products are supplied to the input – water, fuel, and at the output there are not visible and tangible products – electricity. Is this not a trick.

Vladimir considers his grandfather, a former power engineer, to be the first mentor. And in production, he had many mentors at every stage of his life's production path. Starting from the former head of the electrical shop at the CHP-1 Nikolai Mikhailovich Sevastyanov, a professional in his field. Vladimir considers Byrlyk Esirkepovich Orazbayev, an outstanding power engineer, whose name was given to CHP-1, to be a serious mentor. Then Vladimir worked as his deputy, B.Orazbayev was the chief engineer at CHP-1. Our hero learned a lot of unknown and useful things from him.

– I remember well my first working day – December 3, 1982. It's eight o'clock in the morning, it's still dark. I enter the territory of CHP-1 and walk down the alley to the office of the head of the electrical shop. On the right side, flocks of crows are very stormily conducting their morning "bazaar" on tall trees. "How the crows croak loudly", I thought, and at that moment a small gust of wind blew in my direction from somewhere to the left, there was a meat processing plant behind the fence. This suffocating breeze even made me cry and took my breath away. He continued to walk further into the territory of the station under the polyphonic cawing of crows, wincing with wet eyes. After walking fifty steps, I jumped up from surprise, a hundred meters away, somewhere ahead, suddenly a loudspeaker hanging on one of the lampposts turned on at full power. Some classical music was mournfully pouring out of it. Probably, someone from the communications department decided to cheer up the workers who came to work and made the music louder to drown out the loud cawing of flocks of crows. "Shoo!" – I shouted as loudly as possible in the direction of the birds and shook my fist at them. The birds probably heard me through the sluggish but loud music. I realized this, because immediately something white-dirty and sticky began to fall on me from somewhere above. Well, wow, the first day at work has come! And the classics, loudly mournfully pouring out of the mouth of the "bell", continued to cause alarm to my young soul. In deep confusion, I still reached the head of the shop. "Well, here's the boss" I thought anxiously. His name was Nikolai Mikhailovich Sevastyanov and he was probably 55 years old. "And where did you come to us so fashionable?" – softly sounded from the boss. He didn't even turn his head in my direction, although he sat on his throne with his right side facing me. When I came to myself, I realized what kind of fashionable outfit they were asking me about. I was covered from head to toe with crow waste. It was some kind of sign that I still haven't been able to unravel. And at that time, only one gloomy thought came to my mind – "And where did I get to?".

However, in later life, Vladimir realized and was convinced more than once that he had come to a wonderful place, and his teachers, including Nikolai Mikhailovich, were wonderful. But that was later. And his first impression was remembered by him for the rest of his life.

Vladimir got acquainted with the station quite quickly, as there were elements of electrical equipment in each workshop. The main thing in his work, he considered and considers the achievement of the goal. In his opinion, a person doing something in his life should get pleasure, which arises when some goals set for him are achieved and something comes out of it. If a person is indifferent to all this, then he is not in his place, he needs to find an occupation from which he will enjoy.

Vladimir learned to be friends with time a long time ago. He wakes up early, from four to five in the morning. Even on weekends. He tries to do everything at work during working hours, so he comes to work 1.5 hours before it starts. Vladimir is trying to solve many issues during this time. He does not like to be at work after the end of working hours for no particular reason, because he believes that the body is not as effective in the evening as in the morning, and you also need to leave something for the family.

His task, as one of the managers, is to use his knowledge, experience, official powers and capabilities to solve the problems of operating power equipment in the company with minimal problems, and to continuously generate thermal and electrical energy. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a well-established working rhythm, try to take certain actions in advance or at least in a timely manner that depend on it.

– That's why I've been at my workplace since six-thirty in the morning. This habit has been developed for a long time. I manage to discuss routine issues with dispatchers by phone until 8 am, to discuss problematic issues of operation. Then I discuss these issues with the management of our enterprises, who it concerns, as well as with representatives of contracting organizations. We mainly discuss ways to solve problematic issues. I also consider and unsubscribe for the execution of e-mail, purchases that came to my address after working hours.

At 8 o'clock in the morning, Vladimir Shmelev participates in the daily operational selector. After that, he gathers short meetings with the heads of Management services, at which unresolved issues and ways to solve them are considered. Until the end of the working day, participates in meetings held by management, reviews and signs technical documents, including specifications, tender documentation, acts of work performed by contractors. Considers all kinds of issues related to the repair, maintenance, operation of power equipment. This is the daily routine of our hero. Every day with small deviations. Like everyone else.

Over 40 years of work, Vladimir Shmelev has accumulated many cases that are worth remembering with respect. One of them is when, at the very beginning of the heating period, the stator winding of the generator No.10 at the CHP-1 burned down.

– At that time, our company was working under the leadership of the Belgian company Tractebel. Belgian specialists, including the company's management, say with one voice that nothing can be done with this generator anymore. It is urgently necessary to make a new generator in Europe and install it, and throw away the burned one. And that's when, together with the specialists of CHP-1 and a local contractor, we presented proposals to the Belgian leadership to restore the burned-out generator as soon as possible. The Belgian side argued that this was impossible, the generator could not be restored. As a result, we convinced foreign specialists and got the go-ahead to fully rewind the generator. The generator No.10 of the CHP-1 was quickly restored by local specialists, and for a long time foreigners were surprised about the professionalism of our employees, to which I was also attributed. Is it not pride for our country?

Another event was especially etched into the memory of our hero. It happened at the Kapshagai HPP. When carrying out scheduled repairs on the hydraulic unit, it was necessary to pull the anchor out of the hydrogenerator. This anchor weighed a little more than 400 tons. And so it happened that when two bridge cranes dragged this anchor to a free platform, one of the cranes damaged a steel cable.

– A huge anchor hung in a lopsided position about six meters from the concrete floor. This situation caused a lot of commotion then, especially since there was working equipment – hydraulic turbines – next to the suspended cargo. The management of JSC "AlES" involved me as an organizer for the implementation of measures that exclude the fall of dangerous cargo with all the consequences. Despite the criticality of the situation, the problem with lowering the anchor was solved quite quickly, in a week. And this, believe me, is quite a short time, considering that we did not have such an experience. It was necessary to make special racks, mount a special structure in the risk zone, lower a four-hundred-ton anchor suspended on it, replace the damaged ropes of two cranes, lower the cargo without incident. The work was carried out around the clock. And the most interesting thing was the attitude of the employees to the case. Both the contractor's staff and its own staff were involved. No complaints about fatigue, lack of sleep. Everyone was focused on one important thing – to lower the dangerous cargo as soon as possible. And such dedication in moments of danger is always respectful.

Vladimir Shmelev loves the company's staff. He notes that if he didn't like the team, he would have left the company long ago. Only in a well-coordinated team can you work productively and with pleasure. Therefore, those who do not like the team, they leave.

Thanks to the well-coordinated team, great results were achieved. Vladimir Shmelev never distinguishes himself from the team in which he happened to work. He believes that it is possible to erect a big one only by a team.

– The very first achievement in my work practice is the construction of a crane beam in an open metal warehouse at CHP-1. It could not be built for a long time. This created difficulties when unloading and loading metal products stored in the warehouse. At that time I was a young member of the CPSU. Organized several subbotniks. As a result, the necessary foundations were erected quickly enough, metal structures were welded, T-girders were fixed, cable lines were installed and connected, appropriate tests were carried out, and the crane beam was put into operation for many years. It was in the late 80s of the last century. The event solved a lot of problems.

Vladimir considers the organization of the construction of a new type of ash-collecting plant – an emulsifier at CHP-1 to be another memorable achievement.

– Due to the increased requirements of environmental authorities to the energy sector, it became necessary to search for and introduce into production new methods of flue gas purification at boilers. One of the solutions was the introduction of emulsifiers instead of scrubbers and Venturi pipes. No one had any experience of this activity. I was assigned to deal with this issue by the director of CHP-1. At that time I was working as a deputy chief engineer of the station. The work was carried out on boiler No.11. The most difficult thing was to gouge and dismantle the concrete foundation of the scrubber room. They even wanted to involve sappers. Concrete was so strong. After all, we overcame it and a new structure for flue gas purification – an emulsifier – was erected at this place. This innovation was built by the very first in the history of the Almaty power system. Then emulsifiers began to be built at CHP-2 and CHP-3.

The creativity that impressed Vladimir Shmelev during his work is also interesting, this is an inscription made on one of the chimneys of the CHP-2 – "Glory of the CPSU", which is not washed away and does not disappear with decades. No matter how much this inscription was painted over or erased, it still appears.

– What an event! So great to work, from the heart. There were similar masters in the time of ancient man, too, what drawings were made on the rocks, they survived for millennia, they were not erased. And in our time, it turns out, there are worthy creators.

Vladimir Shmelev wishes young power engineers that if it's boring at your job, you don't want to delve into the bottom of the profession, if you're trying to shift the difficult performance of work to others, then think about whether you're wasting your time at this place. Find something to do to your liking and live easily, without heaviness in your soul. But to do this, you need to have the courage to change something.

And the most valuable advice given to our hero at the time was the instruction of the former director of CHP-1, Viktor Dmitrievich Levin, who once said: "Vladimir, stick to the pipe, and you will not be lost". And for all 40 years, Vladimir Shmelev kept to the chimney in the energy sector, although there were offers and temptations to get off this path. This advice he adheres to now.