Legacy tracking methods can sometimes result in false positives


Courtesy of Pure Technologies - a Xylem brand

Over the past decade, there have been several major pipeline failures that have had significant environmental impact. The high consequence of a rupture failure makes these pipelines some of the most regulated assets in the world. To reduce risk on these pipelines, operators use inline inspection (ILI) pigs for multiple functions, such as cleaning or assessing the condition of a pipeline, or to purge different products in a multiproduct pipeline. When owners use pigs, it is important to know their precise location and speed. A lost or stuck pig can obstruct product flow, causing unwanted service disruptions, or at worst, pipeline rupture.

When tracking a pig through a pipeline, it is often difficult to know if it has passed a tracking location, especially for inexperienced trackers. The majority of traditional legacy tracking is done with a standard geophone, a device which converts ground movement into voltage. This process relies solely on the word of the technician tracking the pig to confirm it has passed using the geophone.

Using this method, a technician cannot always confirm – and there is no record – that the pig has actually passed a location. The geophone can also give a technician a false positive; therefore, traditional methods of tracking often leave the pipeline operator at risk of missing a pig passage.

Lack of Experience can Lead to Problems

In order to identify a pig passage with only the use of a standard geophone, an experienced tracker is needed to reduce the likelihood of error by ensuring signals are read accurately. Many trackers who are currently sent out in the field are inexperienced and unable to provide this level of experience. By solely relying on a standard geophone, field technicians can easily miss a pig passage, which leads to problems later in the run. Accurate pig tracking requires the right tools and defensible data. Using a tracking system that employs multiple sensors to track the pig provides the operator confidence that pig is being tracked, as well as a record of each time it passes a location.

Reliable Tools and Data

The Armadillo Tracking system uses multiple sensors to track every pig deployed into a pipeline. The sensors work simultaneously and record a snapshot of each pig passage. These snapshots show when a pig has passed a tracking location and also helps ILI vendors with benchmarking and reporting. With more reliable tools and data, all stakeholders can have peace of mind knowing problems during an ILI run will be minimized.

To learn more about advanced pig tracking and the other myths of pig tracking, download our 12 Myths of Pig Tracking white paper.

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