engineering ethics HPS

How Pigging Systems are Good for Society and the Environment

When implementing new technologies within a business, there’s more to consider than just efficiency, profit and productivity gains. Of course, these are important, essential even, but there are other factors to take into account, such as the real or potential social and environmental impacts of new equipment, software or processes.

It’s no different when implementing new liquid product recovery (pigging) systems. The increased yields, better productivity, faster changeover speeds and return on investment (ROI) are quite easy to measure, and efficient product recovery is of course important. But there are also ethical, environmental and social benefits to pigging technology.

It’s Not All About Profit and Efficiency

It’s easy for the ethical factors involved in considering new process technology to take a back seat. That’s because thing like increase in output, profit, efficiency and financial returns, which are often the primary drivers behind a project, are also fairly easy to measure and clearly tangible.

Ethical factors are often less tangible. But that doesn’t make them less important. In terms of both personal and corporate responsibility, ignoring the broader context of your decisions is a perilous road to take.

engineering ethics and liquid product recovery

Ethical and Corporate Responsibility

A corporation’s ethical credentials are not the sole responsibility of the marketing, PR, media or legal departments. Just about everyone in the organisation can have an input, both positively and negatively. This includes those in engineering, production, research and development, quality, operations, process improvement departments and so on. In fact, anyone responsible for purchasing and implementing new process systems or technology.

Technology and It’s Wider Impact

Purchasing a new system or systems needs more than an understanding of the technology, how it works or what it can do for you. Other factors can be quite wide ranging, such as meeting current and forthcoming regulations, industry standards and codes of conduct, the affect the technology may have on future generations, whether it be used in a non-ethical way, and so on.

corporate social responsibility

Throughout the world there are standards, legislation and codes of practice regarding ethics and professionalism for nearly every occupation. This includes engineering, its related professions and wider context.

Here’s an example. In the UK, the Royal Academy of Engineering together with the Engineering Council produced a statement of ethical principles. While it is not a regulation or standard, and should be used alongside relevant codes of conduct and guidelines, it is an extremely useful reference document for the engineering and related occupations.

The statement includes four fundamental principles for ethical behaviour and decision making. These are:

–          Honesty and Integrity

–          Respect for life, law, the environment and public good

–          Accuracy and rigour

–          Leadership and communication

As part of the principle “Respect for life, law, the environment and public good”, the statement goes on to mention that engineering professionals should (among other factors):

–          Hold paramount the health and safety of others and draw attention to hazards

–          Protect, and where possible improve, the quality of built and natural environments

–          Maximise the public good and minimise both actual and potential adverse effects for their own and succeeding generations

–          Take due account of the limited availability of natural resources

So What’s Ethical About Pigging Systems?

Liquid product recovery (pigging) systems increase yields, reduce waste, save time, money, water, product, cleaning agents, labour and other resources. Which is great. But they are also good for society and the environment. This is because:

Pigging systems improve safety

Most pigging systems are automated. This reduces the chances of accidents and human error, which means they’re safer than doing things manually. In addition, because automation means less manual intervention, processes are usually much faster and reliable.

Pigging systems also improve safety by reducing risks of product contamination and cross-contamination. At the same time they also improve lot control and traceability. So if something does go wrong, it’s possible to pinpoint the precise batch. Historical batch identification can be a problem in liquid process systems that don’t use pigging.

Of course, pigging systems have their own safety considerations. They propel projectiles at speed through a pipeline, which if not programmed and controlled properly, could in itself cause an accident. So, they need barriers, interlocks, decompression and venting sequences and various other safety features. This is why you should only obtain a pigging solution from an experienced liquid product recovery and transfer specialist such as HPS.

Pigging systems are good for the environment.

The same features of pigging systems that increase yields and lower costs are indirectly the same features that reduce transport costs, send less product to recycling or landfill, reduce waste treatment and the use of resources in the first place.

Reduced waste and chemical usage also reduces risks of accidental spillages and pollution.  So pigging systems are helping to safeguard our precious natural resources, the natural environment, and maintaining it for future generations.

This infographic shows the positive environmental impact of pigging.

profitable and ethical pigging

Pigging systems are good for society

From producing food and drink to personal care products, household goods and paints, the engineering and process industries improve the quality of our life immensely. But everything comes at a cost. Process industries are also, or have been in the past, responsible for pollution and heavy use of resources.

Product recovery systems can help reduce these costs through efficiency improvements and waste reduction, while at the same time helping businesses to reach their sustainability and environmental goals. This makes products cheaper, more environmentally friendly, reduces pollution, and puts less of a strain on our natural resources, including water use. All this plays a part in helping towards the good of society.

So if your organisation processes liquids and has ethical corporate, social and environmental values, you really should be pigging!

Find Out More

Pigging systems have a wide range of benefits. So, if your company processes liquids and you would like to bring these benefits to your organisation, please get in touch with HPS.

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