Engineering specialists have manufactured a pioneering mechanical recovery system which can withstand explosive environments to make the process of removing cleaning devices from industrial pipelines less dangerous and significantly quicker.
A specialist team at engineering company Forth has designed a pig retrieval tool to more efficiently remove the devices, known in the industry as Pigs, from oil and gas process pipelines and significantly reduce production downtime.
The retrieval of the Pigs is crucial to allow the production of a plant to continue, but the process is often a laborious one and there is a potential risk to human life.
Forth’s gas and oil experts stationed at the company’s base in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, were approached by a customer who was frustrated with the labour intensive process of removing the Pigs.
The Forth team developed a flexible tool, which can be adjusted up to 15 metres, fitted with an ATEX Zone 1 pneumatic winch which can safely be used in explosive atmospheres, and can pull weights up to one tonne.
Using an auto-locking grab, the device connects to the Pig on contact with the latching point and is used in tandem with a mounted ATEX
Zone 1 camera to provide live images back to a tablet operated on the ground by an engineer.
The use of the Pig Retrieval Equipment reduces manual handling and operating time, and allows production to return much quicker than usual while making the whole process safer for the operators.
The winch and the design of the front grab can be modified to suit different Pig latching point designs wherever applicable.
Rob Sneesby, Lead Mechanical Engineer, said: “By designing and manufacturing the Pig Recovery System, we were able to speed up the process significantly which meant that the production of the plant was able to resume much quicker, thus saving a substantial amount of money.
“There is always a risk element associated with the retrieval process too, and removing the need for such close human interface has made the job significantly safer to carry out. The team at Forth is proud to carry out such pioneering projects, and it is great that the work we conducted proved a game changer to our customer.
“ The recovery system can be adapted for all industries and we look forward to working with further clients across all sectors.”
The Pig Retrieval Tool is one of many innovations manufactured for the oil gas industry by Forth.
The Forth team has also manufactured a system to improve the ease of removing spherical pigs from launch tubes which have been stuck in situ for a long time after previous attempts to retrieve them by traditional methods had been unsuccessful.
Rob said: “Time and again, customers approach us with problem statements and ask us to find a solution. And they keep coming back because we successfully manufacture products that significantly make their lives easier.
“We can work with any businesses looking for solutions to their problems across the gas and oil industry, and we take great pride in being able to deliver on our promise.”
Forth has bases in Flimby, Cleator Moor and Barrow, all in Cumbria, and works across all sectors in engineering, from gas and oil to renewables, and decommissioning to nuclear.