Tests and inspections are a key part of ensuring industrial pipelines continue to run smoothly and safely. Different testing methods allow operators to detect cracks, corrosion, and other damage early, giving them time to repair or replace sections of pipeline before severe issues occur. This helps minimize leaks and other serious consequences of pipeline failure. As such, pipeline tests are essential in protecting environmental health, maintaining a cost-effective pipeline system, and delivering products safely across the globe. You can learn more about the different types of pipeline tests and how they help with this overview.
Smart pigging, also known as in-line inspection, uses large, complex devices known as pigs to perform non-destructive, non-disruptive inspections on a pipeline. Pigs utilize the flowing product to move along the pipeline and detect corrosion, cracks, or other damage. These devices have become more and more efficient as the technology improves. Some operators can even use them to quickly test the entire length of their pipeline. Unfortunately, not all pipelines can use smart pigging as a testing method. The sheer size and complexity of a pigging device makes it difficult, and even dangerous, to operate in smaller or older pipelines.
Another form of non-destructive testing is an ultrasonic test. This method of testing uses high-frequency sound waves to analyze the internal structure and thickness of a section of pipeline. Ultrasonic testing is a helpful tool in determining the thickness of a pipe wall or the amount of metal loss the pipeline has suffered. Ultrasonic tests can also help operators identify and precisely locate a flaw or discontinuation in a weld of the pipeline.
Hydrostatic testing is one of the many different types of pipeline tests that uses pressure to identify any flaws along the pipe. To perform a hydrostatic test, operators must have the right inflatable pipe plug for their pipe. Having a plug that fits the size, product, and conditions of your specific pipeline allows you to create an effective seal, successfully isolating that section of pipe for the test. Once this seal is in place, operators fill the section of pipe with water until it reaches a stress level slightly above its designated pressure requirements. Operators hold the pipeline at this level of pressure and record the pressure, volume, and temperature of the pipeline. This allows workers to detect any drops in pressure due to leaks, cracks, or other flaws in the pipe.