Pipeline cleaning pigs: tips from the original ‘Polly pig’ manufacturer, Girard Industries

As manufacturer of the original ‘Polly-Pig’, Girard Industries has been producing high-quality pipeline cleaning pigs and accessories for over 55 years. We spoke with Girard general manager Michael Henry about the changes he’s seen in the pipeline industry, and his top tips for a successful pipeline cleaning program.

In 1958, Harry Girard supplied the first polyurethane foam cylinders to a California oil company to remove moisture and debris in natural gas pipelines. Following the success of the cleaning run, Girard refined a range of patented coatings and geometrical shapes that became recognised throughout the pipeline industry as the ‘Polly-Pig’.

Since then, Girard Industries has been at the forefront of innovation in pipeline cleaning, batching and gauging pigs, developing new products to meet the demands of a changing industry.

General manager Michael Henry, who has been with Girard for over 17 years, reflects on the way the industry has changed.

“Pigs have become more commonplace in the lexicon of the pipeline industry,” Henry says. 

“It was not long ago, when I first started attending conferences, I’d receive the weirdest looks and comments about our products. People would come up, stare, maybe touch a pig in our booth, similar to someone seeing a pig at a petting zoo for the first time.”

Today, the team at Girard makes and provides technical assistance on pipeline cleaning pigs for even the most difficult natural gas, hydrocarbon, water and special application pipelines, with all equipment manufactured at its plant in Houston, Texas.

Girard’s cleaning pig product range available at Tremco Pipeline Equipment 

Girard’s top tips for a successful pipeline cleaning program 

Henry has two pieces of advice for Australian pipeline operators maintaining the integrity of their pipelines.

Be proactive with your pipeline cleaning 

“No truer words have been spoken than the old adage: ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’,” Henry said. “Cleaning a pipeline doesn’t just have to be when you shut the line down. Routine maintenance – as little as running a single pig a week – could be what keeps problems from forming.”

Don’t rush the pigging process

“Problems happen when pigging is rushed,” Henry noted. “This occurs when personnel want it completed faster or with fewer pigs.”

Henry explained that the pigging equivalent of the saying ‘walk before you run’ is ‘swab before you brush’.

“There are many reasons to run swabs or other less aggressive pigs before a true cleaning pig, and all these reasons help to avoid major problems.”

A long-standing Australian partnership built on trust 

For more than 25 years, Girard Industries has partnered with Tremco Pipeline Equipment to distribute its pigs and equipment in Australia.

“During this time, we’ve seen how much customers trust Tremco Pipeline Equipment and that’s because they strive to truly solve problems and not just sell products,” Henry said.

“They’re not afraid to suggest a solution that is substantially less expensive than what the customer wants. The team at Tremco Pipeline Equipment helps to maintain integrity in pipelines, as well as holding it as a core value at a company level.”

For more information about the right pipeline cleaning, batching or gauging pig to meet your needs, contact Brett Trembath at brett@tremcopipeline.com.au