Magnetic Pipeline Pigs

Pipeline magnetic pigs are mandrel bodied pigs fitted with high strength neodymium magnet boxes and are used for pig tracking or cleaning of ferrous debris in the pipeline. Magnets can also be moulded into solid flexible polyurethane pigs or moulded into polyurethane discs if space is a restricting factor.


iNPIPE PRODUCTS™ magnetic pigs are supplied for a number of applications, primarily collecting magnetic scale such as welding rods, weld bead slag, mill scale and rust from inside a new pipeline or for ongoing cleaning activities. They can also be used for activating electromagnetic equipment attached to the pipeline, for example: signallers, switches and valves. 

 Magnets are attached to pipeline pigs for a number of reasons: 

  • To operate valves 
  • To operate magnetic non-intrusive pig signaller detection devices 
  • To remove ferrous debris from the pipeline 

The ones used to operate valves are generally bonded into small diameter pigs and are used in the food industry to open or close valves during the manufacturing process. They are also used in the soft drinks industry for the same purpose, to open and close valves, in order to change from one process to another. 

 Magnetic non-intrusive pig signaller detection devices are looking for a change in magnetic field for them to operate. Magnets for this purpose can be bonded into the polyurethane spacers on smaller diameter pigs or they can be mounted directly onto the pig body in cassette bracelets. 

The design, power, location and orientation should always be considered in order to provide the highest gauss/magnetic field possible to ensure the easiest detection. Magnets used for this purpose are generally neodymium iron boron rare earth composite magnets and can be quite small but quite powerful. It is important to remember that the magnets are not housed inside the body of a carbon steel pig, carbon steel pig bodies can shroud the magnetic field being generated by the magnet(s) therefore minimising their power. 

If they are mounted onto the body, they should either mounted onto the rear spider plate of the pig, therefore protruding from the back or mounted directly to the outside of the pig body centrally between the mounting flanges. 

The only time they can be mounted inside the body is if the body is manufacture from stainless steel as stainless steel does not have the same shrouding effect as carbon steel as it is an alloy and therefore nonferrous. Note: this should also be considered when mounting electro-magnetic transmitters into the pig body as the same design phenomenon is pertinent. 

A magnetic cleaning pig is used to remove ferrous debris from pipeline. In this case it is more effective if the magnets are attached to the body of the pig as they are more effective in collecting debris. When space is critical, particularly in small diameter pigs up to 12”, the neodymium magnets can be moulded into the polyurethane spacers on small diameter pigs. 

It has to be remembered that should the magnets be placed too close to the pipe wall there is a chance that the centre of the pig, between the steel mounting flanges, could become compacted with ferrous debris. This could cause the pig could become lodged in the pipeline. 

Once again, it is important that all the details of the pipeline are known before the pig is designed and manufactured. Brushes can be used in conjunction with magnets to assist in the ferrous debris being removed from the pipe wall. The resulting ferrous debris can then be collected with the magnets mounted on the pig. 

Benefits of Magnetic Pigs

  • Magnets can be fitted to bi-directional pigs, cup pigs, Flexicast solid polyurethane pigs, spheres and foam pigs
  • Magnets can be supplied with bi-directional and cup pigs when designed or provided as a retro-fit magnet bracelet in either ferrite or high strength neodymium magnets as required
  • Magnets can be moulded into foam pigs, Flexicast pigs and pigging spheres. Care must be taken during engineering to ensure that magnets are correctly moulded into the material.
  • Magnetic, acoustic, electro-magnetic and radioactive source tracking options are all available with Magnetic Pigs
  • Depending upon application, the use of brushes should be considered in association with magnetic pigs to maximise cleaning of ferrous debris and potentially reduce the number of cleaning runs

Pigging Products and Services Association
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ISO14001 Environmental Management Certificate
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European Desalination Society Member
International Desalination and Reuse Association (IDRA)

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