How Fast Does a Pig Travel? Blink and You Might Miss it!
There are several unfortunate misconceptions and myths about pigging technology, especially in the process industries. These range from pigs not being able to navigate bends and the assumption that they can only travel in one direction.
Another myth, and one that can often hinder projects, is the assumption that “pigging systems are extremely slow”. Of course, this couldn’t be far from the truth.
So, we thought we’d set the record straight and dedicate this blog article to dispelling the commonly held misconception.
And if you’re not sure what pigging is, here’s an explanation.
Speed of Pigs is Fast!
Generally, in pigging systems provided by HPS, the pigs travel at an extremely fast speed. This is great for efficiency and productivity. It’s also why we place safety at the highest priority.
Broadly speaking, the speed at which HPS pigs travel through the length of the pipeline is dependent on a number of factors. For instance, pigs will typically slow down around 1.5 D – 90° bends, and speed up towards the end of the travel if there is less product flow to push through the pipelines. Similarly, pigging systems that use gas rather than liquids to propel the pig tend to be less smooth because of the gas compressibility.
Despite these factors, the majority of people are often surprised by how quickly pigs travel through pipelines. Typically, it’s not uncommon to see a pipeline pigs’ running velocity reach 10 metres per second.
Pigs are also a lot heavier than many people think. For instance, the approximate weight of a 4 inch pig is around 1.4 kilograms (which is heavier than a bag of sugar!).
Any solid projectile (or pig) of that weight, and travelling at such high speeds poses a safety risk. What is important is the minimisation of these risks, and choosing an experienced pigging systems provider such as HPS to design, supply and commission your solution.
Live Pigging System in Action
To demonstrate how quickly pigs travel through pipelines, we’ve compiled a video of a live pigging system in operation. This was captured in the HPS office in Nottingham, UK, and features an automatic single pigging system both in real time and in slow motion.
In the video, the flexible patented HPS pig is propelled through the pipeline by compressed air (it could also have been carbon dioxide, clean water, nitrogen or the next product being processed). The pig then recovers or removes the product which is forced to the destination filler or tank.
Benefits of Pigging
Despite the unfortunate misconceptions, thousands of organisations throughout the world use pigging technology to improve the efficiency of their factories and production facilities. One of the major benefits of pigging is that it’s extremely cost-effective, and delivers a high return on investment (ROI). Typically, a new system provided by HPS will pay for itself (less than 12 months is not uncommon).
Pigging recovers nearly all the residue in the pipelines (HPS systems have a 99.5% recovery rate), which can then be processed, packaged and sold. This greatly maximises product yield, and at the same time reduces waste. Also, due to the high recovery rates of the HPS pig, cleaning processes are easier and quicker. This is because there is less product to remove and less water, cleaning fluids, resources and labour required.
The environmental benefits of pigging are substantial. This can be partly attributed to pigging reducing the amount of cleaning agent used. The biggest impact of many cleaning agents comes from the chemicals which they contain. Sometimes the chemicals in cleaners are common pollutants that are detrimental to the environment, and contribute to harmful ozone or smog. So, by decreasing the total amount of cleaning agents used, pigging improves safety, and reduces risks to the environment.
Reducing waste using pigging also minimises the number of vehicles required for the removal of product waste or the delivery of waste treatment chemicals. This in turn reduces things like road traffic and hence vehicle pollution caused by exhaust emissions.
Getting Pigging Right with a Specialist Company
If a solution is properly designed and installed, it will soon reap the rewards of pigging. It will also increase the efficiency of your operations. However, it’s important to recognise that getting pigging right requires specialist expertise. In other words, it’s essential to know what you’re doing when producing the design, specification and then implementing and commissioning the system.
What’s more, with pigging system design there’s a great deal to consider. For instance, the number of sources and destinations, viscosity of the product, system control, propellant required to push the pig are a few of the numerous considerations. That’s why, if you are considering pigging as a solution to your processing challenges, then you should talk to specialist company like HPS.
It requires extensive technical expertise, knowledge and experience to effectively deliver a system that recovers 99.5% of product, while at the same time delivering a high return on investment. However, if you work with HPS you can be assured that you are working with an organisation that will provide a solution that you are 100% happy with, and that meets your objectives and delivers rapid payback. We do everything from initial system design concepts to detailed solution plans, equipment supply, implementation, commissioning, programming (if required), as well as training and after-sales support.
Find Out More
We really enjoyed filming the latest pigging video at our Nottingham headquarters. If you have any requests on videos you’d like to see, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Additionally, if you have any further questions or would like to discuss a pigging solution for your company, please contact HPS.