The United States enjoys one of the safest, best-maintained and reliable pipeline systems in the world. Devices called "pigs" help pipelines stay free-flowing and detect potential problems before they happen.
Scraper pigs feature a bowl-shaped attachment at the front that removes and collects any residues deposited on the pipeline wall. Technicians load the pig into the pipeline at a service junction and it is propelled by the contents of the pipeline to the next service junction. Technicians then remove the pig and the scraped-off debris.
Scrubber pigs takes the scraper pig a step further, using a mechanized set of rotating brushes to remove debris from the pipe's interior surface.
"Smart pigs" are equipped with on-board diagnostic systems that can identify any deviations in the pipe wall due to corrosion or other sources of damage. Technicians analyze data collected by the "smart pig" and, if necessary, determine the proper maintenance or repair strategy.
"Smart pig" technologies include:
Satellite-based global positioning systems to pinpoint the location of any irregularities.
Calipers to precisely measure the width of the pipeline.
Magnetic sensors to measure the thickness of the pipeline wall, identifying any thinning due to corrosion.
Ultrasound scanners identify thinning walls, as well as loose coatings or surface deformations.»next