pig detector and pig detection system

What Is Pig Tracking?

Pig tracking basically means monitoring the location in a liquid processing system of a pipeline pig (or pigs).

Pig tracking is important because, to operate and control any pigging system safely, effectively and efficiently, it’s critical to know the whereabouts of the pig within the pipe at any given time.

Applications and Tracking of HPS Pigs in Liquid Processing Systems

HPS Pigs are typically used in pipelines with diameters ranging from 25 mm (1-inch) to 200 mm (8-inches). They’re deployed in a wide range of applications; from food and drink to household products, personal care, paint, pet food and many more.

Typically, pig detection in these applications focuses on monitoring whether a pig has passed specific predetermined key points along the pipeline.

Please note, while some principles may overlap, the technology used for pig tracking in large diameter pipes, such as those found in the oil and gas industry, differs significantly. If you’re looking for information about large bore utility pig tracking systems, you can find more information on the Pigging Products and Services Association website, for example in this article.

AccuTect-P pig detector for hygienic and sanitary applications

Types of Pig Tracking

In pig tracking, there are various methods employed to monitor the movement of pipeline pigs within liquid processing systems. The most basic form of pig tracking is visual. This is simply where an operator physically looks to see the location of the pig.

However, considering that most liquid processing applications are closed systems, use solid magnets and use pigs which travel at high speeds, solely relying on visual pig tracking is neither practical, reliable nor safe.

Instead,  the most effective solution is to use non-intrusive pig detection. This gives a physical indication that the pig has passed a particular point, as well as an output signal suitable for PLC and control systems.

Enhancing Pig Tracking with HPS Pig Detectors

HPS pig detectors mount externally on the pipe being pigged. To track the pig, when a pig passes the detector, the detector picks up the pigs magnetic field.

To provide a visual indication to the operator, an LED on the detector lights as the pig travels past. When the pig is in range, the LED lights on the pig detector will illuminate red, signifying the pig’s location. As the pig moves out of range, the LED lights will illuminate green.

Beyond visual cues, the pig detector provides a signal specially designed for highly accurate and reliable tracking and automation using PLC and control software.


HPS AccuTect pig detector and pig detection system

HPS pigs reside off line until they’re needed. They’re usually housed in launch and receive stations specially designed to enhance the CIP process. This is ideal because, as well as improving the CIP process, it also ensures the pigs do not contact the product until absolutely necessary.

The HPS pig detectors are nearly always sited at launch stations and receive stations. In addition (depending on the system), pig detectors may also be mounted at other key locations such as drop off, tank or bottling points.

However, because HPS pigs do not get stuck in the pipeline, it’s possible to accurately programme pigging automation systems using the logic that if a pig is not at one location, it must be at another. This reduces the number of pig detectors required while still ensuring robust and dependable pig tracking capabilities.

Find Out More

Pipeline pigging and product recovery solutions aren’t exclusive to the oil and gas sector. They offer a wide range of benefits across diverse industries and sectors, enhancing product yields, minimizing waste, boosting profitability, optimizing efficiency, and improving environmental credentials.

For more information about pig tracking, pig detection, product recovery, pigging system automation, or to find out how hygienic and sanitary pipeline pigging products and systems can help your liquid processing operation, then please get in touch.

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