pig launchers HPS pigging

Product Spotlight: Launch and Receive Stations

Welcome back to our key questions and answers blog series. This blog is dedicated to key components of any pigging system: Pigging Launch and Receive Stations.

If you haven’t already guessed, pig launch stations are used at the start of the process pipeline, while receive stations are located at the end of the pipe in a process system.

Because HPS pigs are bi-directional, the receive station usually returns the pig, so are often also known as receive/return stations.

So, here are some questions and answers covering everything you need to know about HPS pig launchers and receivers.

If you’ve missed the first articles from the key questions and answers series, then make sure you check them out:

Key Questions and Answers about the AccuTect Pig Detector
Key Questions and Answers about HPS Piggable Diverter Valves
Key Questions and Answers about about HPS Hygienic (Sanitary) Pigs

What are Pig Launch and Receive Stations?

Pig launch and receive stations are used in hygienic (sanitary) pigging systems.

Their key role is to introduce the HPS pig safely into the product line, propel the pig to and from source and destination, and store the pig offline when the pigging process is complete. You may also hear them being referred to as ‘Pig stations’.

HPS pigging pig receive

What are the Key Functions of Launch and Receive Stations?

As well as introducing the pig (or pigs) safely into the product line and ensuring it is received at the end of the run, other key functions of pigging stations are to:

    • Enable clean-in-place (CIP) of the pig.
    • Store the pig offline when it’s not in use, and make sure it doesn’t interfere with the process when not in use.
    • Prevent the pig from leaving the pipeline.
    • Ensure product is delivered to the right destination at the correct rate and at the correct time.
    • Provide a means of supplying propellent
    • Enable safe and controlled pipeline venting.
    • Have full control of the product leaving the pipe.
    • Receive stations will often ensure the pig is returned reliably and safely to the launch station.

How Do Pig Launch and Receive Stations Work?

Pig launch and receive stations are key components of pigging systems, alongside the pig, pig detector, various valves, pig housing plus more.

Depending on the application, pigs can be propelled through the pipe by gases such as nitrogen, compressed air, or carbon dioxide, or even cleaning fluid, water, or the next product being pigged can be used as a propellent.

Pig launchers and pig receivers consist of specialist valves. These control the pig propellant, and hence the pig.

Most pigging systems tend to be semi or fully automated. Pig detectors are typically located near the pigging stations and mounted externally on the pipe being pigged. So, HPS AccuTect pig detectors send a proximity signal to the pigging software of control system, so that the location of the pig is known at all times. They also provide a clear visual indication of pig presence.

The pigging process is extremely quick (here’s a video of how quickly a pig travels through a pipeline). Opening and closing of the various specialist valves in the launch station and receive station is carefully controlled and the pig is introduced safely into the product line without risk of contaminating the product. The pig receive station will then send the pig back again when it has reached its destination. CIP or normal processing can then resume as soon as the pigging process has completed.

Does the Pig Reside in the Pig Launch or Receive Station When Not in Use?

When not in use, the HPS pig is typically stored in a pig housing at the launch station. The pig housing has been specially designed to be slightly larger than the pig. This enables the flow of water and cleaning fluids to be applied to it, fully cleaning, and sanitising the pig. The housing design also enables the pig to be easily and safely removed for maintenance and inspection.

In some cases, the pig can be stored at the receive station. However, this is only in certain circumstances, for example, pigging solutions such as double-pig pigging systems and multi-destination systems sometimes include housings in both the launch and receive stations.

HPS pigging launch area

What Applications are They Suitable for?

HPS launch, receive stations and other equipment is specially designed and engineered for hygienic, sanitary, and other liquid processes. So, they are suitable for applications such as food, beverages, confectionery, paints, coatings, household liquids, lubricants, cosmetics, personal care, pet food plus more.

Generally, our equipment is suitable for pipeline diameters typically ranging from just 25 mm (approximately 1 inch) to 203 mm (approximately 8 inches).

Please note, our pigging launch and return stations are not suitable for larger-scale utility applications such as oil, water, waste, and gas.

Although there are similarities between the pigging launch and receive stations found in utility applications, there are also some major differences to the pigging equipment in process applications.

Here’s a useful article which explains this in further detail – Similarities and differences of pigging systems in the processing industries and pigging in utility applications.

How Much Do They Cost?

Pigging launch and receive stations are supplied as part of a pigging solution.

If you would like a quotation for a pigging system, please click here.

Are Pigging Launch and Receive Stations Safe?

All HPS equipment including the launch and receive stations are extremely safe. From HPS pigs and housings to pig launch and receive stations, our pigging products have robust safety features.

For example, our systems feature electronic interlocks to ensure the pig and housing can only be accessed when safe to do so. In addition, our pig launch and receive stations are specially designed to ensure the removal and replacement of pigs is safe, quick, and easy.

They also feature automatic decompression when the pig enters the launch or receive station pig housing.

HPS pigging equipment pig

Can the Pig Only be Propelled in One Direction with HPS Pigging Launch and Receive Stations?

Some process pigging companies have pigging launch and return stations where the pig can only be propelled in one direction. In some cases, the pig needs to be removed manually and returned to its launch housing after the pigging process is complete.

However, this isn’t the case for HPS equipment. Our pigs are bi-directional so they can travel either way along the pipeline from source to destination.

Do You Need to Use HPS Pigs with our Launch and Receive Stations?

If you have HPS pigging stations, we strongly recommend that you use HPS pigs. That’s because our pigs have been specially designed to perform with perfect compatibility with HPS pigging equipment.

This is not to say non-HPS pigs won’t work. But they will certainly not provide the optimum levels of performance, quality, efficiency, and importantly safety that HPS equipment will.

How Do I Know if the Pig has got from the Launch to the Receive Station?

You’ll always know the location of the pig with our highly effective AccuTect pig detector. When the pig is introduced into the pipeline, the pig detector will change colour as the pig leaves its housing and goes out of range. When the pig has reached its destination, the AccuTect pig detector will light up in a different colour to indicate the pig is in close range. The AccuTect will also of course send a signal to the controlling software or PLC at each stage of the process.


Are they Standard or Bespoke Design?

Nearly all HPS pigging equipment is designed bespoke and around the precise needs and requirements of each customer. This includes launch and receive stations.

HPS can design the pig launchers and receivers around your process and application. So, the design may change depending on the product being processed, propellent used, length and diameter of your pipe, type of pig used plus more.

We can also design specialist pig launchers and receivers, for instance to eliminate ‘dead space’ and recover nearly all the product.

Any More Questions?

If there’s anything else you’d like to know about HPS pig launchers and receivers, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Alternatively, if you’d like to speak to one of our pigging system experts about a hygienic and sanitary pipeline product recovery system designed around your exact requirements, please contact HPS. Simply give us a call, send us an email, or fill in one of the contact forms on our website and we’ll be in touch.

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