Adventures in Shipping: The Pig Launcher Edition

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When a national energy company asks you coordinate a hugely important shipment in less than a week, you step it up.

At least that’s what happened when a Texas headquartered natural gas utility giant approached us with a rather odd sounding freight: a pig launcher. Turns out, though it may have a somewhat comical name, it’s actually an integral piece of equipment.

The term “pigging” refers to a pipeline maintenance procedure designed to aid pipe cleanings and inspections all without disrupting product flow. Its oddball name comes from the noise it makes while squealing down a pipeline.

This critical pipe function is made possible through the pig Launcher– a funnel shaped Y section that gets inserted into the pipeline prior to cleaning. These massive launchers are then enclosed and expelled via pressure down the pipe shaft. At the end of the line they are collected in a receiving trap called the ‘pig catcher’.

Clocking in at upwards of 46 feet, these pig launchers are a sizeable job, but we were up for the challenge.

Though we were confident in our ability to deliver, the customer was clear about one thing: they needed a turnkey operation with one-purchase order. That meant we’d be solely responsible for coordinating a host of moving pieces and parts from cranes to flatbed trucks to rigging crews, and acting as the go-between for end-user and receiver.

With our marching orders in place, we hopped to. We first set out verifying our list of potential drivers who had worked with this type of equipment before. After we were convinced we’d found one that knew the ropes, we checked references, their driving record, and insurance coverage before pressing forward.

Once our driver and a 48-foot flatbed were both secured we sourced material-appropriate straps to guarantee that our securing measures wouldn’t scratch the pig launcher’s surface. With those in place we made sure a crane and crew were scheduled at both job sites. From there we contacted the receiving client so they’d be ready once we arrived on site, and verified that we didn’t need a state permit to haul an ‘oversized’ piece.

More than a dozen calls later we were ready to ship.

With our pickup location about 300 miles away, we budgeted six hours for the move. The most critical timing piece was to ensure that the pig launcher was loaded in sufficient time to make the four-hour drive to the site. Even an hour’s delay would have left the crane waiting on the truck, incurring costly repercussions.

Fortunately, we synched transport perfectly and the pig launcher was delivered on time without a hitch.

In the end, with its mission critical deadline of a week this rapid-fire project was a welcomed challenge. We now recognize the true value add of a timely pig launcher delivery. It’s gratifying to realize that energy companies both large and small rely on our efficient and custom designed shipping services to keep their operations running.

What’s the most memorable thing you’ve ever needed shipped?

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