From residential sewers to industrial oil lines, pipelines are crucial to the utilities and resources we use on a daily basis. In order for these pipelines to remain effective, professionals must perform regular inspections to check for damage, make repairs, and keep the product within the pipe flowing smoothly. As with any job, it’s important for pipeline inspectors to arrive with the right equipment to complete their task efficiently and with as few problems as possible. Here are some of the most essential tools for pipeline inspections all inspectors and pipeline workers should know.
You can’t even begin to inspect a pipeline if you can’t access it. If you need to get through a manhole to reach your pipeline, you need to bring all the necessary tools to safely open the lid. Make sure you bring along a cover hook to help lift the lid and gain access. You should also bring along the necessary tools—such as manhole jacks, winches, or rollers—to safely lower and guide your hoses or cables through the manhole and into the pipe. As a safety precaution, it’s also important to have a gas monitor on hand to detect methane, hydrogen sulfide, or other dangerous gases that might build up around your pipeline.
Pipeline Inspection Gauges
Pipeline inspectors prefer to use nondestructive methods that can survey the pipeline and detect damage without stopping the flow of the product within. One of the most common nondestructive method is through pipeline inspection gauges, or pigs. Inspectors send these devices through the pipeline to collect data through ultrasound or magnetic flux testing. Pigs can move quickly over long distances, allowing inspectors to efficiently test entire pipelines for damage. Some inspectors also use “smart pigs” with attached robotic cameras and sensors to further detect corrosion or other damage, though not all pipelines can accommodate these newer devices without damaging them.
Other Pipeline Test Equipment
Often, the essential tools for pipeline inspections depend on what kind of pipeline you’re working with and what you want to find. There are plenty of methods you can use to test the pipeline’s integrity and locate any flaws, corrosion, or other damage. You might use hydrostatic test pumps, pipeline joint testers, smoke testers, low-pressure leak detectors, and more. Each inspection technique and the matching equipment comes with both pros and cons. Make sure you match your method to the type of pipeline you’ll be inspecting and the kind of damage you’re looking for. Obtaining the right products and equipment for the job is the first step to ensuring a smooth inspection, safe workers, and a functioning pipeline that benefits everyone.