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Customer Conference 2017 in Siegen | The scope for using drones in the energy industry | Cover story | Issue 11 • April 2018 | Line Pipe Global

Line Pipe Global

Issue 11 • April 2018

Customer Conference 2017 in Siegen

The scope for using drones in the energy industry

Customer conferences at Mannesmann Line Pipe always look ahead to the future with exciting topics. Most recently there was a fascinating presentation of the possible applications of drones in the energy industry.

46 employees of engineering offices, line pipe manufacturers and selected trading partners took up Mannesmann Line Pipe’s invitation. In addition to papers on a novel, inexpensive corrosion protection system for damp surfaces, the demagnetization of steel line pipe, the lining of gas line pipe, safety, and soil protection in long-distance pipeline installation, a detailed talk on the use of drones in the energy industry was also on the agenda.

Jens Lutomski from Microdrones Deutschland explained graphically that the use of drones in the energy industry is already very much on the advance. They can be used for exploration, for the routing and documentation of pipelines, for tank inspections, tests of natural gas boreholes and in plant safety. A big advantage of drones, in addition to their ability to provide access to poorly accessible areas, is that they are cost-effective to operate. Furthermore, the data generated are rapidly available and the data material is in some cases incredibly detailed. With appropriate software, these data can be swiftly evaluated and processed.

Microdrones, which has been on the market since 2005, produces drone models for numerous different applications. It has also developed complete solutions for specific industries, consisting in each case of a suitable drone, sensors and the matching software.Some packages include accessories for inspection, multi-spectral, thermal and lidar imaging, and methane gas detection. There was inevitably a practical demonstration to round off the talk. Conference participants were mesmerized by the aerobatics of the drone on the Siegen plant site.


All in all, an exciting and much-discussed topic that was of great interest not only to numerous conference participants, but also for Mannesmann Line Pipe itself. At present, several departments are working intensively on digitalization. For example, the online transmission of pipe data to drones is already possible.

  Four questions on customer conferences put to Stephan Maier, Mannesmann Line Pipe

Mr. Maier, you’ve been co-responsible for the organization and staging of the customer conferences at Mannesmann Line Pipe for many years. What’s so special about them?

What makes them special is undoubtedly the high quality of the talks. Whether it’s a matter of technical details, applications or, as most recently, forward-looking subjects – the exchange of information among experts and the exposure to different views on the same subject are exciting every time.

Wouldn’t it be possible to collect and distribute the talks in written form?

We do that anyway, electronically, of course. But in my view that alone wouldn’t have the same impact. When they come to us, our conference participants are taken out of their everyday business situation and can devote their undivided attention to the talks and demonstrations. Since our conferences are usually spread over two days, there’s also sufficient time for in-depth conversations and networking.

Has any one topic stood out in your memory over the years?

Looking back at the conferences held to date, I can say that there is simply no end to new developments. New materials, systems, possible applications and standards are constantly emerging. Very specifically, I was highly impressed – and numerous customers as well, I’m sure – when Ron Gotthardt of ICS, Blount Europe SA cut steel tubes with a chain saw. True to the motto "It doesn’t always have to be high tech".

How will the format of the customer conference continue to evolve?

Most likely with new and exciting topics. We want to stick to the basic concept of presenting innovation and cutting-edge issues and being available as an expert for consultations with users and customers.

The exposure to different views on the same subject is exciting every time.Stephan Maier, Regional Sales Manager

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