16/06/2021 - Innovation and R&D
by Sylvie Dubois-Decool
Vallourec is a trusted supplier of pipes and connections for the global Oil & Gas industry, recognized namely for its technical competencies. Now, we are combining our reputation and assets with our long-lasting commitment to innovation. Vallourec is extending its footprint in new business areas, with a clear, comprehensive three-fold innovation strategy. This expansion is not only about developing new products and solutions; this is a collective transformational journey, involving all divisions of the company.
We want everyone at Vallourec to take part. Our Yes to innovation initiative, set to launch this month, aims to give every employee at Vallourec the tools to innovate so that they can successfully contribute.
A three-pronged approach
To extend our footprint, Vallourec has a three-pillared innovation strategy based on the strong conviction that we are smarter when working together.
The first part of our strategy is to reinforce our positioning in our core market as a pipe supplier for stringent environments, either with premium or “good enough” products.
Next, we aim to offer solutions that help our customers boost their efficiency throughout their assets’ lifetime. Two examples are digital solutions or new functions added to pipes.
Lastly, we intend to open new avenues for growth with new businesses and business models. We will focus on new markets in line with market trends. We have already developed offers for energy transition, additive manufactured parts in new business sectors, and vegetable tar, to name a few. This far-reaching strategy is key to our success in diversifying outside of the Oil & Gas sector.
Innovation: turning theory into reality
For many companies, the word “innovation” is synonymous with ‘Research & Development,’ but that is not the case at Vallourec. Our notion of innovation is best expressed through the formula: Idea + Execution = Innovation for Added Value. True innovation starts with market understanding that triggers a great idea for a new offer or business, but it will never be more than a concept without the right infrastructure and a strong commitment to turning theory into reality.
To ensure Vallourec’s best ideas become best-selling products, we have implemented a complete ideation framework.
Firstly, we are encouraging all our staff to share their ideas. To facilitate this, we have created Winnov, a dedicated cross-functional international in-house platform for cultivating employee idea sharing.
Next, we have created the Vallourec Open Innovation to combine new technologies with Vallourec’s own products. The fourth edition, which was launched last May, is focusing on developing new marine energies, yard digitalization, and reusing pipelines within a circular economy business model.
We also run Front-End-Innovation workshops with customers to generate and develop solutions to their business challenges.
In order to quickly execute ideas, we have also introduced ‘boosters.’ These increase efficiency by ensuring the value of the solution while it is being developed, without waiting until it is finalized. We ensure this value by involving early adopter customers and future users alike as early in the project as possible.
Putting our focus where it matters
Whatever the innovation, Vallourec focuses on its expected value and benefits.
Continued innovation in our core business areas enables us to maintain our leading market position. New solutions are selected not only for their associated business value, but also for their potential applications outside the Oil & Gas sector. Energy transition initiatives aim to develop in this growing area. In line with the objectives for CO2 emission reductions in Oil & Gas, we are also committed to sustainability goals, such as developing a circular economy business model.
Last but not least, we are committed to creating programs that inspire innovation among teams. Our Winnov and Front-End Innovation ambassadors are tasked with raising awareness among their colleagues and keeping them informed of new opportunities to share ideas. We also communicate widely regarding our Open Innovation challenges, and our Webinnov monthly webinars reach 400 viewers per session.
A recently conducted internal survey found that around 50% of all Vallourec’s staff are aware of the company’s innovation equation and convinced of its value. Our aim is to get 100% of the company involved with our innovation transformation journey to leverage the expertise and mind power of our entire talented workforce.
Saying Yes to Innovation
Creating a culture of innovation does not happen overnight. It takes commitment and effort to inspire an entire workforce to think creatively and share their ideas. Vallourec is dedicated to communicating our “Idea + Execution = Innovation for Added Value” equation throughout the company. We want every single employee, from finance and human resources teams to engineers and field service experts, to know that they have a crucial role to play in innovation.
Vallourec’s new Yes to Innovation initiative, set to run from June to October, aims to generate enthusiasm and widespread contributions to our innovation strategy across the company. This awareness-raising project will use a series of articles, success stories, quizzes and e-learning programs to demonstrate the benefits of an active involvement in innovation.
We are also launching ‘Inspiration Friday,’ a weekly email to share examples of inspiring innovation. Our goal is to create a culture of knowledge sharing and foster a mindset of problem-solving and openness.
About Sylvie Dubois-Decool
After completing her studies at the prestigious Ecole des Mines de Paris and the INSEAD business school, Sylvie Dubois-Decool took off for Malaysia for her first professional experience as a Site Engineer with Soletanche Bachy. She then acquired extensive experience within the automotive industry – with PSA Peugeot Citroen, AIXAM-MEGA and VCAV. She has held several positions within Vallourec. She is currently Innovation and Change Management Director of the Vallourec Group.