hps pipeline pig speed

Pigs Propelled Through Pipelines at High Speeds

A question we often get asked is ‘how fast do pigs travel through pipelines?’ If you’ve stumbled upon this page and are looking for the speed at which the domestic pig can travel, then this is not the right page for you.

This blog article is about the specialist projectile (also known as a ‘pig’) used in liquid product recovery (pigging) systems to reclaim liquid remaining in the pipeline and clean the insides of pipes and hygienic (sanitary) tubing.

Pigging systems are in wide use in processing industries, for example, food, beverages, paint, personal care, cosmetics, pet food, household processing, plus many more. They’re one of the most effective ways to increase product yields, cut waste, speed up changeovers, and help environmental sustainability. For more information about pigging systems, then make sure you check out what is pigging and how it works page.

pig in pipeline

Most Important Component of a Liquid Product Recovery System

Pipeline pigs are the most important component of a pigging system (here’s an article about the key components of a pigging system). To put it briefly, pigs are highly specialist devices with no moving parts. Because the pig fits compactly to the pipeline, this means very little liquid can get past it as it travels through the pipeline. So, this enables the pig to recover practically all of the product from the pipe, instead of wasting it.

Process pigs are unable to propel themselves, so instead are propelled along the pipes or tubing by a liquid or a gas. The speed at which a pig travels is usually controlled, however, it can be very fast.

So, how fast exactly can pigs travel through the pipelines or tubing?

Speed of the HPS Pig in a Controlled Environment

To find out the exact speed of the HPS pig, the HPS Research and Development Department recently carried out some testing.

The tests were conducted in a controlled environment which consisted of an empty 2-inch line, 3 metres long, with no bends or joints.

And the results are in……

The average speed the pig travelled was 18.14 m/s or 40.57 MPH

The fastest recorded TIME was 169 ms.

The average TIME the pig travelled was 165.4 MS.

As you can see, the pig is extremely quick!

You can find out the full test results below:

Pipe diameter 2″ HT
Test Number Recorded Time (ms)
1 168
2 164
3 164
4 169
5 162
Average Time (ms) 165.4
Average Speed (m/s) 18.14
Average Speed (MPH) 40.57


Please note, these tests were conducted in a controlled environment. Pig speed will differ in a manufacturing environment where there are a variety of factors that have an impact on pig speed such as bends, pipe length, product, propellant and so on. 

In addition, these are test results for the HPS pig. Other pigs in the process pigging industry which may have fins or less streamlined shapes than HPS pigs may get different pig speed test results.

Speed of Pig in Manufacturing Environment

In a manufacturing environment, the speed at which the pig travels through the pipeline is still extremely quick!

However, the speed is variable along the length of the pipe and is dependent on a number of factors. For example, pigs tend to slow down around bends, and speed up towards the end of travel if there is less product to push. At the same time, the choice of propellant also has an impact on pig speed. For instance, pigs tend to travel less smoothly if propelled by gases rather than liquids due to gas compressibility.

Nevertheless, pigs can reach extremely high speeds. Due to the speed of the pig, combined with the fact that one of our largest pigs weighs around 14 kilograms (around 30 pounds), they pose a potential safety risk.

That’s why it’s important when implementing a pigging system to choose an experienced pigging system provider such as HPS with an excellent track record in providing pigging solutions that deliver optimum levels of safety, reliability and performance.

Safe Pig Design

As well as choosing an experienced pigging system specialist, it’s also important to choose a high-performance, quality pipeline pig that can handle high speed without getting damaged or resulting in excessive wear or deterioration.

HPS process pigs are extremely safe. They do not contain solid magnets and instead have a flexible, magnetised silicone core. It’s not recommended to use pigs with solid magnets, as they are a safety and contamination risk.

In addition, HPS pigs have a fully moulded, cylindrical style shape, with no fins, caps, and assembled pieces. The shape of the pig enables it to achieve constant contact with the pipeline and significantly lowers the chances of tearing, breakages and product bypass commonly associated with finned pigs and other designs.

HPS pigs are designed for highly effective and efficient pipeline pigging, which is why they are used by many of the world’s largest liquid processing companies.

pigging system pipeline pig

Contact the Process Pigging Experts

Whether you have a new liquid product recovery system project, a spares order, have a technical question or general enquiry or want to find out more about our high-performance pigs, our team are here to help:

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