Over the course of his 20-year career at Vallourec, Ronaldo Antunes has developed an unparalleled expertise in mechanical engineering. Since 2018, he has been the Senior R&D Engineer with a focus on Industry for the Group’s operations in the South America region.
Tasked with integrating R&D efforts throughout the various teams across the region, Ronaldo brings his technical and business acumen—as well as his passion for industry—to his work.
Based in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, my job is to plan and execute R&D projects with a particular focus on solutions for industry, where the Group has an extensive portfolio, including light and heavy vehicles, agricultural and construction machinery and structures for civil and mechanical applications. As this is a large region, with operations mainly centered around Jeceaba and Barreiro, I play a key role in facilitating collaborative R&D activities between different plant teams.
I also regularly handle other technical demands beyond R&D, such as providing technical insights to customers, failure analysis on tools and products, and technical specifications for testing equipment.
I first joined the Group in 2002 as an R&D engineer in the Automotive division, performing finite element analysis on cold and hot forming manufacturing processes. In my job before coming to Vallourec, I worked in maintenance engineering. There, I started to become interested in metallurgy and mechanical forming processes and did some work within these domains. Once I got to Vallourec, though, I had the opportunity to really dive into this area and cultivate my knowledge. I have always been deeply interested in the research I do, and Vallourec supports that interest.
As I have moved among different roles and different teams at Vallourec, I have had the chance to both deepen and broaden my skills, extending them to areas such as cold drawing and forging in addition to a wide variety of tube applications and customers. Vallourec fosters an ideal environment for people seeking to develop their skills. I finished my Masters in Thermal Sciences as soon as I arrived in 2003, and later in 2009, I obtained a PhD in Mechanical Design.
I use my analytical skills every day, while maintaining an open mind. You need both analysis and flexibility to adapt to change and approach problems in a new way. I am also very proud of my integrity and discipline, which form the basis of everything I do.
One of the biggest challenges in R&D is identifying and focusing on the projects that have the greatest potential value. There is so much we, as engineers, might like to research, and a multitude of projects we might pursue. But I like to remind my teams that effort doesn’t always equal results. We must be disciplined and channel our efforts into areas where they will bring the most customer satisfaction, process efficiency and differentiation for our business.
Especially now, as the future of industry is in a state of flux, knowing which solutions to pursue and which to set aside is a huge asset.
One word sums up my vision for the future of R&D: integration!
For me, creativity is the icing on the R&D cake. We combine innovation, daring and knowledge to push the envelope and think through challenges, old and new. There is no greater feeling then finding a solution to a problem you previously thought was unsolvable.
I also relish the opportunity to work with people all over the world. One of my favorite memories is when my Continuous Improvement Team (CIT) was awarded for our efforts with a trip to France. We visited Vallourec sites and, of course, hit all the tourist highlights. Our international network of colleagues is such a special part of this company.
My activities align well with the goals of the new ONE R&D organization.
We are already in regular contact with other R&D teams in the regions. On several occasions, I have been able to count on the support of metallurgical experts for the development and qualification of products - or on the simulation team. On my side, I collaborated with corrosion expert colleagues and the Intellectual Property team on a new feature for OCTG products. There are multiple active communication channels across regions, from regular meetings and committees to seminars and training. Right now, we meet weekly to discuss optimizing cost reductions using additive manufacturing technologies, dividing up the studies and sharing the results.
One word sums up my vision for the future of R&D: integration! I want to synchronize the many efforts of our teams in different regions all around the world. We have such a wealth of expertise at our disposal. Putting our heads together is guaranteed to produce ground-breaking results.
In pursuit of this goal, I hope that I will have more opportunities to work with teams in different regions on our own projects or on cross-regional projects. Through this kind of outreach, we will build a collaborative network that spans the globe.
I believe it’s important to take time for yourself amid periods of intense work. I love to watch movies with my family. I also like to clear my mind with exercise, or with hands-on work like refurbishing or fixing things in my garage. I’ll tinker with anything, from toys to cars. I like to be creative and make discoveries as I go – in every aspect of my life!