Best of Construction Jargon Part 1: Smart Pigs

Portrait Of A Pig In Glasses

Pipeline projects are highly coordinated efforts with lots of potential for bad things to happen: ruptures, things going up in flames… lucky for us there’s a technology called “intelligent pigging.” If you haven’t worked on one of these projects, you might’ve still heard about the stars of the show: the “smart pigs.” And those pigs make our first installment of best construction jargon.

What are smart pigs?

Smart pigs are an inline inspection tool designed to detect defects and prevent accidents. And though the technology has been around in some form since 1964, today’s pigs are small enough to squeeze into small diameter piping, and smart enough to use advanced sensors to scan lines for defects such as dents, cracks, and erosions.

Pipeline Inspection Gauge

The “Pig” acronym stands for Pipeline Inspection Gauge. (Apparently they also squeal when they’re actively scanning pipes. Even better.) These little inspector gadgets are launched using a fluid flow into the pipes and are able to expand and contract as needed. Some even utilize GPS mapping data to get where they need to go. And when they’ve finished their work, the pigs are brought home by receiver traps.

Here’s an animation of the pigs from a company that uses them:

There are several different types of smart pigs to suit different projects. But pipeline pigs don’t need to be smart to be useful. Other pigs—often made of foam—move through the pipes and give them a good cleaning.

Image © Tsekhmister/Bigstock


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