Brewing, drink manufacturing, milk processing, distilling and pharmaceutical manufacturing are thirsty work. On top of the water used in the products themselves, beverage manufacturing expends thousands of litres of feed water cleaning equipment, flushing factory pipelines and providing coolant for machinery.
In fact, feed water is one of the largest operating expenses for businesses in the food and drink sector, when water treatment, filtration and processing is taken into account. It is also one of the worst potential areas for waste. Installing a pigging system is, therefore, one of the simplest ways to save water and money in the hygienic industries.
What is a Pigging System?
Pigging systems, or liquid product recovery systems, are designed to recover residual fluids in tubes and pipes. The ‘pig’ in question is a bullet-shaped plug or projectile, made of rubber or a food safe polymer. The pig is projected through the pipe or tube network using pressurised air, nitrogen or water. As the pig moves through the network, it gathers up and recovers fluids left in the pipes, in a process known as pigging.
Why use a Pigging System?
The most important use of a pigging system is to prevent or minimise waste. In a beverage processing plant, factory pipelines are full of product. In a bottling plant, for instance, 100m of tube between a pump and the bottling line equals 100m of product. Once the source tank is empty, the pump stops working, as there is nothing left to push through the pipes. In practice, however, there is plenty of product left in the internal pipes, so pigging brings two benefits:
1) Saves Water
Without a pigging system, the pipes would have to be flushed out with water, which is time-consuming, expensive and uses a lot of water, as well as causing downtime in which the plant can’t be used. The pig saves water, while simultaneously cleaning the pipes of product residues, making cleaning itself faster and more cost-effective.
2) Saves Product
Flushing with water also loses the residual product in the pipes, which ends up in the drain rather than the shops – money literally poured away. The amount of product saved can be substantial, and in the case of high-value products – including skincare products/cosmetics, medicines and alcoholic drinks, the cost savings soon mount up.
Designing a Pigging System
As fluid processing plants have a variety of layouts, and tube and pipe diameters, each pigging system is bespoke. The pig is designed to fit just within the diameter of the pipework, and the pressure has to be sufficient to sustain the projectile around the network without risking damage, building up too much friction, or losing momentum and getting stuck. The method of projection has to be consistent with the product used; i.e. it can’t contaminate the product and must adhere to the industry’s hygiene standards. Most modern pigging systems are computerised, with a variety of settings that can be operated remotely, saving employee time as well as resources.
If you provide us with technical drawings of your system, we can design a bespoke pigging system. We can assist you with the design of your system and provide you with all the products you need to get up and running, so your chosen installation partner can fit it to your specifications.
An efficient pigging system is a cost-effective strategy for reducing waste and maintaining an efficient production line. At ITS, we work with some of the world’s leading industrial pump, valve and heat exchanger suppliers, to provide cost-effective solutions for manufacturers in the food, drink and pharmaceutical sectors. For advice about system design, setup, or maintenance, or to order spare parts, please call 01675 621014 today, or send an email to [email protected].