Getting Started with Your Pigging Project
Choosing a pigging system and selecting a provider
So, you’ve already started thinking about implementing a product recovery (pigging) or liquid transfer solution into your production plant? But how do you choose a pigging system and ensure you select the best process pigging company for your project?
Whether you’re planning a simple pipe pigging system or even a highly sophisticated, PLC-controlled multi-source, multi-destination liquid product transfer solution, before you can start choosing a pigging system, you need to ensure you choose the right provider. Quite simply, choosing the right (or wrong) pigging provider can make or break your project.
In this blog article, we look at some of the factors to consider when choosing a pigging company. Following these tips will help ensure the success of your pigging, product recovery or liquid transfer project.
Factors to Consider When Comparing Process Pigging Companies
- Bespoke, Custom Pigging Systems – Is the pigging system bespoke and designed around your precise needs and requirements? Be wary of any company offering ‘off the shelf’ solutions, they are rarely going to be a perfect fit.
- Easy Integration – Does the company you’re talking to really understand your current set up, so they can ensure their pigging solution will integrate seamlessly into your existing operations?
- Safety – Can the pigging system company demonstrate a proven track record on safety? Have you checked the range of safety features within their products and what they will provide?
- Proven Technology – Does the company offer solutions that are proven to work?
- High Performance Pigs – Do the pigging providers offer high performance pigs that meet your application needs?
- Extensive Experience and Track Record – Do the pigging system providers have the necessary expertise?
- Provide Automation and Control Systems and Programming – Can they provide automation and control systems and programming, or happily assist with your own programmers?
- Pigging System Commissioning and Support – How will the pigging system providers support you during the project and throughout the lifespan of the equipment?
- Specialists – Is pigging their core business or just an ‘add on’?
- ROI from Pigging and Product Recovery – Can they provide clear ROI calculations and a sound business case?
Bespoke, Custom Pigging Systems Designed Around Your Needs
One of the most important considerations when deciding on a pigging system provider is whether their solutions will meet your precise needs and requirements. That’s why it’s extremely important to know what your key aims and objectives are for pigging before you even start talking to a vendor.
Objectives may range from increasing yields and reducing waste to boosting efficiency and improving environmental sustainability. Other more specific objectives may include improving processing speed, lowering water and CIP cleaning chemical usage, reducing aeration, plus many more.
Once you have prioritized your key objectives, you can then start looking for pigging system providers who have the capability to design the right solution for you.
It’s also extremely important when choosing a pigging system company that they offer bespoke, tailored pigging systems. Especially considering that virtually every processing plant is different, and so should every pigging system.
Unfortunately, not all pigging companies provide bespoke, custom pigging solutions and instead offer ‘standard one-size-fits-all’ systems. These are rarely going to work as well as bespoke solutions and may even cause you a number of issues, so bear that in mind when comparing process pigging vendors.
In addition to choosing a pigging company that can provide a bespoke solution that meets your precise needs and requirements, it’s also important to think about how your potential solutions will fit into your existing operations.
Implementation should be easy and result in as little downtime as possible. In fact, simple implementation and ease of use are strong signs that the pigging provider is a proven, and reliable leader in the process pigging industry.
Even more complex, multiple routing liquid product distribution solutions should still be easy to implement and designed with user needs in mind.
Safety is extremely important when choosing a pigging system company. After all, specialist projectiles (‘pigs’), key components of pigging systems, are dense objects working in pressurized systems that travel through pipelines extremely quickly. Therefore, safety should be given the highest priority to reduce the risks of accidents occurring.
Make sure you choose a reputable company that has a proven and demonstrable track record on safety. Importantly, they should be able to demonstrate the equipment safety features, processes and systems they have in place.
Examples of pigging system safety features includes automation sequences, interlocks, venting, physical barriers, depressurization procedures and highly accurate, reliable pig detection systems.
It’s also critical that the pig used contains no solid magnets (and instead have a magnetic, silicone, flexible core). Solid magnets in pigs are potentially dangerous because they can shatter, break, or even leave the pig, compromising the safety of people and equipment.
Choosing proven technology that works will make all the difference to the effectiveness, reliability, productivity, efficiency and safety of your product recovery project.
The highest performing pigging technology and pig typically recover upwards of 99.5% of residual product from full pipelines.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of the technology, maybe consider asking the pigging system vendors for a pigging system demonstration.
Any trusted, customer-focused pigging solutions providers will be more than happy to demonstrate the effectiveness of their products before you commit to a purchase.
High Performance Pigs
The most important component of any pigging system is the pig. The best-quality, most effective pigs tend to feature a one-piece, cylindrical, flexible design. Finned pigs should be avoided due to the hygiene issues they pose over time.
Other key things to look out for when comparing process pigging providers is the recovery rates of their pigs (typically these should be over 99 percent). You should also look out for the reliability of their pigs, for example, do they come with a minimum usage guarantee? A good quality pig should last an extremely long time without needing replacement.
Safety of the process line pigs is also extremely critical so make sure they can prove how their pigs meet stringent safety and quality standards (i.e., provide pigs that contain no solid magnets).
The process pigging provider should also offer different types of pigs to suit your application. For example, for food applications, pigs should be manufactured from food-grade, FDA compliant materials. For solvent applications, they should offer a pig made from solvent-resistant materials, etc.
Extensive Experience and Track Record
The best pigging system company is typically one who has decades of experience and a high level of expertise in designing liquid product recovery and pigging systems.
Although the principles of pigging are straightforward, getting it right is not as easy as it may look at first glance. It takes a wealth of skills, experience, and expertise to successfully design, implement and commission an effective, and safe pigging system that delivers cost-savings, tangible benefits and provides high return on investment (ROI) and payback.
By choosing an experienced pigging provider, they’ll understand the typical pitfalls, the pros and cons of different systems, and have in-depth knowledge on what may work for one company may not necessarily work for another.
What’s more, by ensuring you choose a pigging vendor with experience and a proven track record of success, you’ll have peace of mind that the company’s knowledgeable, trustworthy and can deliver high-quality and innovative solutions.
To validate this, you should ask your potential pigging providers for references in your industry sector. They’ll most likely have a worldwide customer base, so will operate on a global scale.
You could even ask for a site visit to one of their existing customer’s production plants to see a pigging system which they have designed and implemented in action.
Provide Automation and Control Systems and Programming
Most pigging systems are fully automated. So, when considering a process pigging provider, ensure they have extensive expertise in developing, writing, integrating and commissioning fully flexible, tried and tested pigging control systems and software.
They should have a team of experienced software experts on hand that can write systems and software to your plant PLC and HMI programming needs. They should be able to modify existing as well as integrate new equipment into existing systems. And they should be able to help you with just about any process control issue you’re having!
And if you prefer to do the programming yourself, the pigging provider should be more than happy to provide you with the Functional Design Specifications (FDS) and support you throughout the process.
Pigging System Commissioning, Technical Support and After-Sales
Before, during and after the implementation of your pigging system, you will most likely need support from your chosen pigging system provider.
So, before committing to purchasing a pigging system, it’s important that you check with the vendor what commissioning and after-sales support they offer.
You should definitely consider a pigging provider that insists on commissioning their pigging systems so that everything works as it should and functions safely and effectively. They should also be training your operators on safe operation and not leaving your site until everything is operating properly.
In addition, look out for pigging providers that offer after-sales support such as a dedicated customer care team with fast response capabilities or even additional pigging system training and maintenance plans.
Whatever your support requirements, to ensure your pigging project runs smoothly, your chosen provider should be on hand every step of the way.
Pigging System Specialists
There are plenty of companies out there that provide process pigging systems. Some are specialists in pigging, whereas some companies offer a wide range of other products alongside pigging. In same large companies, pigging is only a small area of what they do, whereas specialist companies ‘live and breathe’ pigging all the time.
That’s why when planning a pigging system and choosing a pigging provider for your organization, you should seriously consider working with a specialist company, with hygienic and sanitary product recovery at the core of their business. Your project will be in safe hands when you choose a specialist.
ROI from Pigging and Product Recovery
Like with all projects, it’s important that you ask any potential providers for an estimation of your return on investment (ROI) and payback from a pigging and product recovery system. They should be willing to provide clear ROI calculations and a sound business case with the expected benefits of pigging clearly identified.
Importantly, any trusted pigging company won’t try to sell you a system if the figures don’t add up and if it doesn’t make sense for your business.
You Can Trust Us – The HPS Difference
HPS are the world’s leading experts in pigging, product recovery and liquid transfer solutions. Our proven technology is trusted throughout the world.
We’ve built an unrivalled reputation for designing tailored, quality pigging solutions that offer high levels of performance, reliability, efficiency and safety. We’re also passionate about delivering a great experience to all our customers.
At the forefront of the process pigging industry, our unique and highly effective pigs are renowned for their high recovery rates, long life expectancies and patented silicone magnetized core.
So, if you’re considering pigging providers for your project, you should seriously think about using a hygienic and sanitary product recovery specialist such as HPS!
To find out more about an HPS product recovery or pigging solution designed around the precise needs and requirements of your business, please get in touch.