How Pipeline Smart Pigs Work

How Pipeline Smart Pigs Work

Unlike the old methods of pipeline inspection, smart pigs do not interrupt production. Rather, they measure the conditions of the pipeline, pinpoint defects, and save time and money. They also help to map pipelines and detect corrosion. They can help prevent dangerous pipeline leaks and environmental damage.

Smart pigs are inserted into pipelines at a specific location to gather data. The data is stored internally or can be transmitted to external sensors. This combined information helps repair crews locate defects more quickly and avoid excessive digging. The data can also be used to schedule maintenance before issues reach a critical point.

Smart pigs are usually equipped with sensors, electronics, and GPS tracking equipment. These systems record data using digital or analog tape, solid-state memory, or onboard batteries. Modern intelligent pigs use specific materials and technology to meet specific pipeline inspection requirements. Some systems even integrate the ability to track pigs by satellite uplink. The combination of internal and external sensors provides a location-specific defect map. The data can be displayed graphically or in 3D. The data from external sensors can be used to assess the severity of the defect, and can help operators to schedule maintenance before the defect threatens the pipeline’s integrity.

Smart pigs are usually used to detect defects, such as corrosion, weld defects, and cracks. The data can be used to predict the growth rate of cracks or corrosion, and can help pipeline operators to schedule maintenance before the issue becomes a problem. Some pigs also use electromagnetic acoustic transducers to detect defects in pipes. Other systems use gyroscope-assisted tilt sensors to identify the condition of the pipe.

In addition to measuring pipeline conditions, smart pigs can detect metal loss, deformations, and restrictions. These sensors can also detect cracks, dents, and pinholes. Some of the more modern pigs can also detect leaks. The sensors record disturbances in the magnetic field, and can use that data to identify the presence of metal loss in the pipe.

The pigs may also be equipped with sensors that record the pig’s passage through the pipeline. This information is typically recorded using audible and magnetic methods. If the pig is equipped with odometers, it can track its speed. The speed can be calculated by calculating the time it takes to travel to each point along the pipeline. If the pig is equipped with a TX transmitter, it can be tracked with a receiver.

The data from the pigs is then analyzed by the operator to identify problems. The data can be viewed graphically, and can be integrated with other threat data to help the operator determine the severity of the defect and to make a decision on whether it should be repaired. If the pig finds an anomaly, it can be tracked to a location where a repair crew can identify the defect.

The data from the pigs can be combined with other data from external sensors to provide a location-specific defect map. Depending on the manufacturer, the data from these external sensors can be viewed through a web-based interface or a graphical representation.