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How to get more from you pig signaller data with today's requirements for improved pipeline integrity.

Our Regional Manager for the Americas, Scott Lewis, discusses the evolution of the pig signaller and how we have evolved our products to meet today's demands:

How to get more from your Pig Signaller data with today’s requirements for better Pipeline Data Utilization and Improved Pipeline Integrity? You Need to Get it Reliably, Inexpensively, Safely, Efficiently. Challenge Accepted.

To quote a line in a Bob Dylan song, “The Times They are a Changing”.

Operators used to accept punching holes in pipes. They had to weld on fittings. They had to do the hydro, mag pent or radiology. Sticking an intrusion into the pipe also introduces problems of damaged and stuck targets and pigs or missed pigs which means shutting down while you send a highly skilled field technician to pull it out, make a repair, and reinstall. All while hoping they wouldn’t have a spill, GHG emission or injured worker from a high-pressure incident during removal. Of course, you also sent highly skilled field techs out to watch for flipped flags, reset them and call in the time. Time consuming, dangerous, expensive and non-productive as that technician has better things to do.

A First Step

Then came a new idea, Non-Intrusive Magnetic Pig Signallers - no more intrusions into the line and they had some type of LED or flag to indicate passage. Soon, Relay outputs tied to pig passage indication were added to wire back to your SCADA RTU discrete input. There, for years, was where your options stood; a combination of some Non-Intrusive Signallers and Intrusive signallers because some Magnetic Signallers could be easily false triggered by noise in the environment or vibration and you thought the Intrusive Signallers were cheaper.

A New Solution

OEL looked at the current generation of Non-Invasive Magnetic Signallers and how they could work with your need for more reliable, informative data, less expensive, safer data collection and environmentally friendly data points. We also looked at all the costs related to installation, technician utilisation, spills, government reporting for emissions and spills, increased insurance costs, and customer relations.

The OEL engineers came at the problem with decades of experience in the Oil and Gas arena and decades of experience with Non-Intrusive Magnetic, Ultrasonic Active and Passive Pig Signallers and brought out the 4003D Pig Signaller.

To answer the reliability issue, the 4003 utilised a 3 axis Magnetometer with user selectable means of utilising the X,Y,Z signal to tailor the acquired data to fit the application, as well as user selectable means to verify a pig had actually passed the location instead of just approaching it and getting stuck. The 4003 also utilised the technology we had developed for the 4001D where the device constantly reviews the background magnetic levels and looks for a pig signal above that level helping to minimise false triggers. Many other user selectable options were made available in this unit, but primarily in this piece we are looking at choices in communication and data.

Data from more choices, more efficiently, faster, and with more information

The 4003 has local indication if you need it thru visual OLED displays, flashing LEDS, local programing via pushbutton and better yet, a Bluetooth BLE app based interface where all programming, event logs with date, time, flux levels and event counts can be downloaded. The app can also program all configurable parameters.

Yes, we provide a relay output as per normal, but we don’t stop there. We supply an analog 8-20ma signal (in case you have used all your discrete inputs) so you can receive pig passage over an analog input. We also supply fully Bi-Directional MODBUS 485 connections so you can interface your Pig Passage indicator to your Pipeline Control center. You cannot only receive passage indication, but flux data as well, to help determine validity of the indication. We also provide new information, as discussed above, to let you know if the system sensed the approach of a signal above your selected threshold level, as well as a passage of that signal below a threshold, so you can verify actual passage. One step further, we now provide access to the IIOT (Industrial Internet of Things) via a LoRaWAN (Lo Power Wide Area Network) option utilising long range radio communication Spread Spectrum technology. It uses frequency modulated “chirps’ to send encoded data. This is the same type of security used by Military and Space communication to safeguard their systems. While this system is designed to send small amounts of data bidirectionally, it can send unit id, pig passage, flux levels and event data, battery level etc… very easily and with connection security for not just a couple of hundred meters but literally kilometres or tens of Kilometres depending on the environment.

Need Help integrating this information?

All this information and cost and risk reduction is great, but what if you need help integrating these new capabilities into your RDU, your computer, or just a simple interface? We have Special Application Engineers with decades of experience in working to interface sensors and systems who are there to help with standard or custom solutions, from simple interface devices to complete system package design assistance.