Inside the smart pig – detecting potential pipeline problems before they happen (part 1)

Back in the 1870s, an unknown pipeline worker came up with an idea that changed the industry forever: if you send something solid through the pipelines, he wondered, would it clean them and remove blockages? A wire-wrapped bundle of straw proved very effective, and the first pipeline pig was born.

Today, pipeline pigs are used for a lot more than just cleaning pipelines. One type is a sophisticated tool called a ‘smart pig’ that helps pipeline companies identify potential problems before they happen – and pinpoints these anomalies to within a few inches. That way issues can be fixed long before there’s any danger to people or the environment.

Check out the infographic below for an inside look at some of the features and functions of this highly intelligent tool:


Pop quiz: how many times have pipeline pigs featured in James Bond movies?

Stay tuned for the answer in next week’s blog post. And we’ll also tell you more about how pigs work, how they’re used and how they got their name.


The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 117,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2014, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.