Viktor Kazachkov: In 40 Years We Have Produced Almost 85 Million Tons of Ammonia!
Togliattiazot has dual celebrations: Chemist’s Day and the 40th anniversary of the plant. Viktor Kazachkov has worked at TOAZ for almost as much as it has existed. He started as an ammonia unit operator and now he is Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Director for Technical Policy. Besides, he has rolled out an extensive scope of public work in the capacity of Deputy Chairman of the City Duma.
– Viktor Aleksandrovitch, how many years have you devoted to big chemistry?
– (Smiling) My whole life. As a secondary school student I was fond of chemistry, then graduated from an institute of chemical engineering, by the way, one of the best in the Soviet Union. I was supposed to be seconded to Kuibyshevazot, but was employed at TOAZ. It was the 15th of April, 1981. Since that time I have been here.
– Was there anything you didn’t like about Kuibyshevazot?
– It was all totally different. In my course I was one of the best students, therefore I could choose my future employer. I picked Kuibyshevazot and arrived in Kazan from Togliatti. At that time the industrial association was undergoing the process of disintegration. At KuAZ I was told that a new plant had been constructed and there were career prospects. They asked me if I wanted to go there.
I got on a Line 51 bus and came to TOAZ HR Department. There I was told that they needed young specialists, but there were no vacancies for the position of shift managers. I offered me a job as an ordinary operator.
– Did you accept the offer immediately or took the time to think it over?
– Almost immediately. What kind of shift manager could I make at the time? I had a lot of theoretical knowledge, but no real practical experience. Well, as a student I received on-the-job training at relevant plants in Kazan and St. Petersburg, but can it be compared with unsupervised shop work?
I sought permission from the HR Department to visit Ammonia Unit No. 3. I wanted to take a look at it. What I saw overwhelmed me: control room instrumentation, acoustic and visual alarms, concentrated faces of the operators. Then I wondered how much time it would take me to train in different job responsibilities there. Let me remind you that each unit had four compartments.
– And how long did it take you?
– A year and a half. Then I was appointed Senior Shift Foreman, in a year Deputy Workshop Manager, and in five years more I took over the workshop as a leader. I think it’s immodest to voice my entire record of service, considering that my present position is the twelfth.
– What is your scope of competence now as Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Director for Technical Policy?
– I supervise major investment projects, such as the construction of the third urea unit, revamping of ammonia units, and supply of utility water. Besides, we are considering the opportunity for the production of nitric acid and saltpetre. There are a few more projects, but they are not to be discussed as yet. It is important to move forward and develop, especially in a highly competitive context.
– Personnel rotation is a natural and predictable process. Today, every third worker at TOAZ is young and aged below 30. What kind of advice would you give them?
– I have always told trainees: “If you do not enjoy the job, you had better find another one”. I judge by myself, because I found it interesting to work from the very beginning. Togliattiazot is a unique enterprise operating seven industrial sites or, in fact, mini-plants.
Young specialists are required to learn all the nuances of their profession to work unsupervised.
And we must trust them completely, because trust is key in big chemistry. Because you trust your life to another person. There can’t be random people here.
Moreover, every plant worker, especially young one, must be motivated. Salaries are high at TOAZ, with regular bonuses, and a collective agreement which sets out 53 (!) basic benefits. Amazing. But there should be moral incentives as well. For example, seven months ago a new recognition board was opened. It has the photos of 20 best performers who made a tangible contribution to the development of the enterprise.
– What indicators has the corporation achieved by the anniversary? Can you please give examples of two or three figures so that our readers could gain an understanding.
– Here you are. In 40 years, Togliattiazot has produced almost 85 million tons of ammonia and around 27 million tons of urea. These are impressive volumes, but they will grow even bigger when we finalise the investment projects. Togliattiazot invests tens of billions of roubles in revamping and as a result out enterprise is steadily among the top three industry leaders by gas consumption rate. It is an important indicators as it demonstrates efficiency of the ammonia units and the plant in general.
– Viktor Aleksandrovitch, how are the team going to celebrate the anniversary?
– The first sales ammonia was produced on 7 April 1979. It is the date when a new page was written in the history of Togliatti. And it is the reference point in the history of our enterprise. We have been running a variety of events for over a month, but the pinnacle event will take place tomorrow, on the 25th of May in the community center of Togliattiazot. The agenda is very busy and includes recognition of the best performers, a concert featuring Honoured Artist of Russia Jasmin, interactive playgrounds for children and adults, a photo zone and much more. I am not going to reveal all the secrets now. The celebrations will be closed with a traditional firework show.
– What will the best plant workers be awarded with, if it’s not a secret?
– Certificates of appreciation, commemorative diplomas, rewards, valuable presents, including 10 cars and 10 family tours abroad.
Cars? Foreign or local brands? That’s very interesting!
– Certificates will be given, each 750,000 roubles worth. And the plant workers will make their own decision which cars to buy.
– Impressive and intelligent! A good example for other backbone enterprises. Tell us a little more about the family tours.
– Let’s wait a little until the ceremony starts tomorrow. I congratulate the team of Togliattiazot with the dual holiday. I wish my home enterprise stability, accident-free operation and further development, and I wish our plant workers good health, financial stability and a happy family life! And Happy Chemist’s Day to all of our colleagues in the industry! What a nice and creative spring holiday we have!
Interviewed by Sergey RUSOV, a former rigger who worked at the construction of three TOAZ units
In the meantime
The museum of local history prepared a new section in the interactive exposition titled “The 20th Century: Stavropol — Togliatti”. It is dedicated to the establishment, operations and role in urban development of the large chemical enterprise Togliattiazot.
An image of the chemical plant’s “control room” is reproduced in the interactive space. The space is subject- and content-rich. It exhibits computers and components which reflect the evolution of their forms and functions, from the mainframe computer to the laptop.
The second group include samples of Togliattiazot products. Here, we should distinguish the interactive mock-up model which indicates the urea production process and gives the visitors a simplified idea of the urea production technology. As additional information, the touch panels of the “control room” will demonstrate videos featuring other production lines at TOAZ.
Another part of the new section is the “cinema hall”, where the “high-tech” content of the time is emphasised even in the shape of the chairs. The “cinema hall”, just as it is meant to, will feature films about the history of the city, creating the atmosphere of the carefree 1970s and the fast-changing 1980s, and the history of Togliattiazot, introducing the audience to the stages of its establishment and evolution.
Russian nitrogen fertilizer major Togliattiazot on Monday revealed the centrepiece of its new urea plant - a 107 metre tall granulation tower - had been installed and the project is 38% complete. Due for commissioning in 2021, the 2,200 tonne/day unit will reinforce the company's presence as the largest supplier of urea to the domestic market.