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Two generations of "Meilleurs ouvriers de France" at Renault Trucks

Having joined the French truck manufacturer's workforce in the 70s with the title of "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" (Skilled Worker of the Year), Dominique Pasinetti recently left Renault Trucks with the title of... "Meilleur Ouvrier de France"! A second title, this time obtained in partnership with a young designer colleague, Antonino Lo Ré, who is carrying on the tradition of excellence at Renault Trucks.

"For the 'Meilleur Ouvrier de France' competition, everything must be perfect. Not just good or very good, but perfect." Dominique Pasinetti, who has just retired from Renault Trucks, knows what he's talking about. He has earned the title twice in his life. The first time was at the age of 25 at the beginning of his career when he was a wooden pattern maker with Berliet, and the second at the age of 60 when he became a manager in the Renault Trucks design department and an expert in volume and aspect design for bodywork parts. For this second award he worked in association with Antonino Lo Ré, a young designer at Renault Trucks.

This came about when, just a few years before retiring from Renault Trucks, Dominique became fascinated by Antonio's graduation project. For he had imagined an off-road truck for 2030, 12 m long and 6 m high designed to carry hydrogen - a new "fuel" - to those parts of the planet which no longer have any source of water. He had the idea of entering this for the 24th edition of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France competition, which was open to two-person teams. This possibility appealed to Antonino Lo Ré, and so both of them signed up in the industrial modelling category.

The project consisted of producing a model from start to finish based on the concept truck designed by Antonino Lo Ré. For the purposes of the competition, the aim was to actually add to the difficulties involved and vary the techniques used. Working from his original design, Antonino Lo Ré first digitised the entire vehicle before individually creating 3-D models of each one of the 200 parts making it up. Then, these virtual parts were manufactured using different techniques - from the most modern, such as laser sintering using aluminium powder or three-dimensional printing, to the oldest, using gouges, riflers, templates and sanders to produce handmade models!

The choice of which technology to use was made according to the purpose of the part in question and the degree of resistance it should have. "For the suspension arms, we chose laser sintering which gives a great deal of rigidity. On the other hand, the wheels were made from rubber using a three-dimensional printer," explains Dominique Pasinetti.

A real technological and physical challenge, the Meilleur Ouvrier de France competition is won on merit. For the jury will not accept the slightest defect. It judges not only the project's difficulty and the techniques used, but also of course, the result. Down to the finest detail. Dominique Pasinetti recalls that, "One day, when I was supposed to do some drilling in an area that was hard to access, it took me four hours of work to make preparations for drilling a hole that only took about 30 seconds!" An attention to detail which certainly paid off. After 100 hours of work carried out in their spare time, the two Renault Trucks staffers reached their goal by becoming Meilleurs Ouvriers de France with an excellent score of 17.4/20.

And yet, there is something else that really counts. For apart from the honour, it is the passing on of expertise that makes this experience particularly rewarding. "This competition was a real challenge for me," explains Antonino Lo Ré. "Because I was trained as a designer, and industrial modelling is not really in my field. So I had to get really fully involved. Dominique showed me new techniques and taught me a great deal in terms of processes. For me, the experience really felt as if I was being handed the torch." Nothing could make Dominique Pasinetti more delighted! "It was very important for me to be able to train a young man in the techniques I am familiar with before leaving Renault Trucks. We were highly complementary. Antonino helped me discover modern modelling techniques I knew nothing about. It really was a wonderful adventure."

The model is now on display in Lyon, at the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France building in the Croix-Rousse district. There is no doubt that it will inspire Antonino Lo Ré for some considerable time to come as he works in the Renault Trucks design department. With this double Meilleur Ouvrier de France title earned by two generations of its staff, Renault Trucks is maintaining the tradition of excellence upheld among its design teams and throughout the company.

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