The head of Integralia’s Homologations Department believes that, if no fault arises in a process, not everything has been checked. With a degree in Audiovisual Communication, this Pamplona native’s professional duties include keeping up to date with current international legislation on everything related to the automotive sector.
Being able to withstand pressure, coordinating teams, having a thirst for learning and being up to date with legislation are some of the qualities that a person responsible for the Homologations Department of a car body manufacturer needs. Ignacio Roncal Matalla (Pamplona, 1980) acquired many of these skills as a producer for a television channel, so he decided to take the leap and for the last four years he has been part of the Integralia team. In addition, this native of Pamplona is also in charge of quality, is part of the after-sales team and even coordinates projects between different departments of the company.
How does a graduate in Audiovisual Communication end up in the Homologations Department of a car manufacturer?
I started working as a TV cameraman and, over the years, I took over the management of personnel, infrastructures and special events for the TV station’s delegation. Although it was a small delegation, it did involve managing and coordinating teams, working under pressure and keeping up to date with the latest developments in the sector. All this experience was necessary for the profile they were looking for in Integralia, so I took advantage of the opportunity and I have already spent more than four years in this position. Specifically, my day-to-day work is very focused on the Approvals Department, which is within the Technical Office, and I am also in charge of Quality, related to ISO and other audits. However, as over time you accumulate knowledge related to the development of each vehicle model, I am also part of the after-sales team. I have even had to coordinate projects between the different departments at times, especially those related to regulatory changes.
How do you keep up to date with all national, continental and international vehicle legislation?
We homologation technicians have different tools, among the most important of which is the support of the National Association of Bus Body Manufacturers (ASCABÚS), who have a medium and long-term international perspective on new standards, as well as any updates to old ones. On the other hand, we also have the laboratories with whom we work on an ongoing basis and who always advise us on possible solutions to any regulatory changes. And, of course, we subscribe to change alarm systems, which identify the dates of entry into force and expiry, and specify this in their newsletters. As for standards in other countries, we rely on different consultancies, which update the requirements of each country every six months.
Do you read all the BOEs?
No, in my case, by the time it is published, my work should be finished.
Is there any piece of legislation that catches your attention?
I am surprised at how fast some are advancing and how stagnant others are. Above all, the difference between one country and another.
Each new regulation means changes in the projects, how do you deal with this constant transformation?
The sooner the whole team involved in a project is notified, the better for everyone. In addition, the communication has to be clear and precise so that there is no room for interpretation. Then, if necessary, they are dealt with by the different departments, where all parts of the company are represented.
Does it take a lot of time to explain them?
Internally, no, we always give advance notice so that the whole company is aware of the developments. It is often more challenging to convey it to customers, especially because we want to convey a message of reassurance and it is not always easy, as it can be understood as regressive ideas if they are not explained well.
What is the process from the moment a new legislation comes out until it is implemented in the car?
At Integralia it is clear to us that as soon as any new legislation is published, at that moment it is necessary to study it thoroughly.
Who do you turn to when you have doubts?
To the homologation laboratories, who help us to interpret any modification, or to ASCABÚS, which defends us as minibus bodybuilders. We also go to other certifying bodies, to the ITV or, if necessary, to the Ministry itself.
After making the changes to get the vehicles homologated, who checks them and confirms to you that everything is in order?
In order to obtain the corresponding type-approval passwords, in some cases tests have to be carried out. Some are simpler, others are very complicated. The type-approval laboratories are the ones who certify that each vehicle conforms to the standard.
How do you experience it when new legislation is passed?
There are always misgivings. Any change, no matter how small, can have implications for design, manufacturing, purchasing… You just have to read and understand what is coming. Lately this is a process that has been occurring with some frequency. We are experiencing a cascade of regulatory changes in a short period of time. As soon as we internalise a point, they change it.
Which type-approval project do you remember as the most complicated?
We had a hard time shaping the R.107 change in 2019. We undertook many modifications simultaneously, so there were many doubts and fears. There was the pressure to meet the deadlines because we were coming from another big regulatory change and customers were demanding the delivery of their vehicles as soon as possible.
And what are you most proud of?
Regulation 66.02. Although I arrived with the project started, I saw how the changes were transferred from the minds of my colleagues to the destructive testing of a minibus and it was amazing.
What trends are you betting on in automotive legislation?
To prioritise the safety of people inside and outside vehicles, who are at the centre of our world. We must start to realise that transport is going to change a lot in the future.
How do you deal with frustration when a project stalls?
Insisting, I admit that I am very stubborn or, as some people say, quite stubborn. I never give up. However, when I can’t do anything because it’s out of my hands, I cope better, I know that I’ve given it all I can.
Is it possible to innovate in homologation?
We can always contribute our clients’ experiences so that those who make decisions can see the day-to-day life of the vehicles they legislate on.
Can we learn from our mistakes?
Of course we can. In fact, I believe that if there are no mistakes, then everything has not been checked. Mistakes, in the right measure, are a very good illustration of the quality of the processes by which objectives are achieved.
What is your favourite working tool?
I am doomed to get along with computers, with which I have a love-hate relationship. I will rarely shout at a person, but at a computer, without a doubt.
Which of your job responsibilities do you enjoy the most?
I like jobs where I can bring a human touch beyond the purely technical.
And the ones you hate the most?
All those related to highly technical fields of approvals. I admit that physics is not my forte.
Do you have any surprising skills?
I’m a good storyteller, I have a lot of imagination and the ability to describe places or situations.
What was your first day at Integralia like?
I came from a much more casual sector and I was very shocked by the seriousness of the job. Also, the contrast between the silence and concentration of the offices, as opposed to the noise of a factory.
Your most extravagant day at work?
Shortly after joining the Integralia team, there was a test in which a minibus overturned and I spent a whole day painting watercolour gauges and planting cameras inside the vehicle. A lot of nerves, but with a happy ending.
ONE ON ONE WITH NATXO RONCAL
What do you spend your free time doing?
My family, my partner and friends, but I also set aside time for my hobbies, especially modelling: I build and paint scale model vehicles and people. Of course, I also like sport and I do spinning, but I reserve my weekends for hiking.
What is your favourite dish and what would you pair it with?
Wild boar in chocolate with a glass of red wine.
What would you like to invent?
Sun cream in a pill.
What series have you seen that you really liked?
Any special book?
The Lord of the Rings’ marked my adolescence, more recently I would highlight ‘The Order’ by Tim Willocks.
What is your favourite technological gadget?
Any gadget you couldn’t live without?
I’m not a big fan of gadgets, the telephone is already too much for me…
Any pending destinations?
Halfway around the world: Canada, Peru and closer to home, Strasbourg.
We’re going on a minibus trip….
Do you choose a film?
Potato omelette sandwich.
Hallowed be thy name’ by Iron Maiden.
Where do you sit?
Any window seat.
Will you be looking out of the window or taking a rest?
I’ll enjoy the scenery while listening to the music, but I don’t rule out a good nap, as I’m a very good sleeper.