When Diego Magallanes made it back home to the province of San Luis, Argentina, in 2005, following a summer internship at Tenaris’ Siderca plant in Buenos Aires, he did not imagine he was going to be called back so soon.
With a degree in mechanical engineering, Magallanes was invited back in 2006 to join the company’s welded pipe plant in Valentín Alsina. This marked the start of his big journey at Tenaris.
Some years in, he transferred to the area of technology, process control, and NDT, which stands for Non-Destructive Testing. In fact, he is now NDT (Non-Destructive Testing) quality senior specialist. Magallanes says that these tests “ensure that what the customer gets complies with their specs, which sometimes are very exhaustive.” Non-destructive tests encompass the full inspection of pipes without causing damage to the product. “We analyze the whole pipe, but we don't waste it. We utilize certain standards and theories from physics to test them,” he adds. NDT differs from work performed in Tenaris labs where the various tests (chemical, corrosion and collapse) can compromise the integrity of the pipes.
It's clear that Magallanes has a passion for his line of work, not only because of the expertise he’s amassed over the years, but also the mental challenge it offers. “NDT is engineering at its core — using theories to understand if the pipe's good to go or should be flagged,” he says. However, a flagged pipe is not a pipe gone wrong —non-destructive tests help correct or realign any spec that might be off the initial target. “We learn a lot from our clients. We have developed best practices based on comments made by our customers,” says Magallanes of the feedback loop.
Building his NDT know-how transformed Magallanes into a bit of a traveler: in 2009 he began holding joint activities in Tenaris plants at Villa Constitución and Valentín Alsina, 250 kilometers apart. “I'd spend some days here, others there, each night staying at different places — I moved a great deal back then," he says.
In 2013 Magallanes added duties at the Siderca mill, in Campana, Buenos Aires, where he’s now based. He was splitting his workweek among at least three different locations, but nowadays, Magallanes assists the different plants, remotely, most of the time. With the Tenaris plant in Valentín Alsina ramping up to produce pipes for a national gas pipeline, he is making rounds on site. The project is one of Argentina's most ambitious energy infrastructure projects: he’ll test and try the pipes, and help the team comply with what the project requires.
Magallanes has also had the opportunity to travel outside of Buenos Aires to share his NDT best practices. “I went to many plants in countries like the US, Mexico, Brazil, and so many more. We'd share practices on seamless and welded pipes alike,” he says. "I have had the opportunity to troubleshoot with my colleagues and this helps strengthen what we do," Magallanes recalls. He mentions one of the most exotic trips he ever made was to Angola; he crossed the Atlantic Ocean with his team from his home in Argentina to make it there. “That was a fantastic trip — we still tell stories from it,” he recalls.
As a continuous learner in an ever-evolving industry, Magallanes acknowledges there's no finish line — there's always something to improve on. "We have to be prepared for whatever else comes next," he says. When he's not at work, Magallanes splits his time between two passions — his family and motorsports. "If it has an engine, then I love it," he says. "I try to catch a race now and then with friends.” He’s married and has three kids, “who don’t have an engine, but it’s still great to be with them,” he jokes.