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Engineers manufacture system to retrieve cleaning devices stuck in industry pipelines

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A team of engineering experts have developed a remotely operated mechanical retrieval system to remove cleaning devices which have become unable to be deployed in oil and gas pipelines.

Engineering company Forth was contacted by a client who was growing increasingly frustrated that they couldn’t remove specialist cleaning devices, known in the industry as Pigs, from the pipes despite multiple attempts.

Within just five weeks, a team of engineers at the company’s Barrow-in-Furness office had designed and manufactured a Spherical Pig Retrieval system, which could quickly remove the stuck devices and would enable recommissioning of the process line without taking destructive measures.

Pigging is a standard process within the oil and gas industry where the device is sent down a pipeline using the downstream pressure, which then drives the item to the end of the line to allow plant production to continue.

Once the team at Forth were contacted by the customer, they created a system which was a lightweight and modular design complete with a suction cup grab system with auto release to connect with the Pig.

It is fitted with electrically conductive castors to protect the system from explosive atmospheres, and comes with a spring loaded trolley and castor assemblies, to mitigate circumferential imperfections and defects in the pipeline.

A front mounted ATEX Zone 1 camera is fitted to the system and relays live images back to an accompanied ATEX zone rated tablet device handled by an operator.

Rob Sneesby, Senior Mechanical Engineer, said: “Our customer was clearly frustrated with being unable to retrieve the Pigs, and they came to us knowing that we would be able to produce something which would put an end to their problems.

“Time was certainly against us as we were asked to conceptualise, design, build and manufacture a system which would remove the Pigs with ease, all within an eight-week period.

“We are extremely proud to say that we met this challenge well within the timeframe and within budget.

We did this by using our wealth of prior experience, knowledge and dedication to the oil and gas industry.

“This system proved how effective it is in removing the Pigs and how it could help operations across the oil and gas industry by improving productivity and therefore saving a substantial amount of money.”

The Spherical Pig Retrieval system is one of many innovations manufactured for the oil and gas industry by Forth, with the team recently devising a system to remove non-spherical Pigs from industry pipelines too.

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.


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