Smart Pig Inspections with Cokebusters
By now, most of us are aware of the recent industrial accident that happened on the East Coast at a now-closed refinery. Thousands of pounds of deadly hydrofluoric acid escaped into the atmosphere following a massive blast, according to a recently released federal report.

What could have caused the explosions? According to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, the root cause was a decades-old elbow pipe that had degraded to just 7 percent of total thickness level. The elbow pipe that likely started the fire was so worn down that it was just 0.012 inches thick. The blast was so powerful that a 38,000-pound barrel was launched 2,100 feet across the nearby river, where it landed on the opposite bank. It should never take an explosion and a plant closure to remind people routine inspections and maintenance should be carried out on a yearly basis.

So, what steps and tools can routinely be utilized to monitor such a situation and help catch it before something detrimental happens? This is where a company like Cokebusters USA comes in with its patented smart pig technology, the Merlin Mark IV smart pig, which can help prevent a possible failure of equipment with early detection.

The Merlin Mark IV smart pig is made of carbon-fiber and, unlike other tools on the market, it is single-bodied. The Merlin Mark IV employs a series of ultrasonic transducers to measure tube wall thickness and internal radius. The smart pig is able to record measurement data and stores the received data to its on-board memory, which can be later uploaded via USB to a computer. Once uploaded, the data is then automatically interpreted and analyzed by the Merlin software, which can output various graphical images and C-scans of the process tubes.

By having smart pig inspections carried out during routine maintenance and turnaround periods, you can accurately locate and quantify any tube anomalies. This will allow further fitness-for-service assessments to be carried out.

Cokebusters USA recently completed a successful smart pig inspection of a pipeline for a client located on the West Coast. Here is what the client's corrosion and materials engineer had to say about the inspection and performance: "I just want to thank Cokebusters again for your great work on smart pigging this piping system. It certainly had its challenges, but I was happy that you came up with solutions and got plenty of data for us. We followed up with some B-scanning that showed what looked like a schedule change and got back very comparable numbers, which was great to see."

Cokebusters USA continues to be an industry leader in the combined service of mechanical decoking and smart pigging. By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail, so plan ahead and schedule your routine inspections today -- before an incident occurs at your site.