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Pipeline Pigging with Smart Pigs

Smart Pigs or Pipeline Inspection Gauges are large pieces of machinery pulled together with powerful technology that help with the maintenance of transmission pipelines. These pipeline pigging devices are major components to pipeline safety and accident prevention.  These inspection tools provide data on the condition of pipelines which help gauge the health and integrity of the pipes. In a time where environmental protection is key and of global concern, smart pigs are the peacekeepers of the delicate relationship between pipelines and Mother Earth (and regulators). In addition, these smart pipeline pigs make sure that transmission of the product doesn't stop due to pipeline integrity issues, which can be disasterous to the bottom line.

Fun Fact: Why are they called pigs? Well, besides it is an acronym for Pipeline Inspection Gauge, it is said that it is also because of the squealing sound they make when running through a pipe. This is especially true of the cleaning pigs used to clean pipelines.

High-quality pipeline construction is integral as these pipes operate under immense pressure. One leak can cause a massive explosion. {Refer to our pipeline information page to see how pipelines can leak}. Luckily, smart pigs are capable of diagnosing problems that can lead to these environmental disasters before they happen.

Types of Defects Dedected by Smart Pig Technology

In General, Smart Pigs are used to detect stress corrosion cracking, general and pitting corrosion.

In specific: gouges, dents, pit corrosion, anomalous weld seams, longitudinal cracks, longitudinal grooves, and general corrosion are all detectable.

Pipeline Smart Pigs Explained 

If you've ever had an MRI or know what one is then you can imagine a pipeline pig very similarly. These often two-ton objects are equipped with highly tuned sensors that can gauge the thickness of the pipes they are traveling through along with cracks, fissures, erosion and other problems that may affect the integrity of the pipeline. Data is collected and transmitted to a team that interprets that data to gauge the health of the pipeline segments being scanned. If any problems are found then teams not only know what the problem is thanks to a heavy set of data points, but know exactly where to go to replace the affected pipe thanks to highly tuned sensors.


You may think some poor chap is sitting with a remote control directing this behemith smart pig through hundreds or thousands of miles of pipeline, but these wonders of technology are free-swimming. This means that the pressure within the pipelines that help the gas or oil move "swiftly" through also keeps the smart pig moving up to ten miles per hour.

Common Terminology: When referring to using a smart pig inline inspection tool for a pipeline someone may refer to the process as "pigging the pipeline."

 

Some common synonyms for smart pigs:

Pipeline pig, pipe pig, pipeline inspection gauge, pipeline inline inspection tool, natural gas pipeline inspection, corrosion detection pig

Smart Pig

                 Photo: Digitel Flux Logger Smart Pig by Enduro