Cokebusters was established in 2005 as a Private Limited Company, offering a unique Combined Service of mechanical decoking and tube inspection in harmony.  Our objective is to work hand in hand with Oil Refineries to ensure their furnaces are performing as efficiently as possible.


The company’s embedded ethos is one of investing in Research & Development.  Our small team of talented and like-minded individuals refuse to accept current technology, as good as it may be.  We push the boundaries of technology with the simple aim of excelling in our field.

At Cokebusters we listen to client concerns; always striving to solve problems and provide the best service.


Along with our Scraper Pigs, all Cokebusters machines are also designed and manufactured at our Technology Centre in the UK.  Our skilled welders and fitters work alongside the experienced site operators to ensure that each machine is an improvement on the last.

Forward Thinking

Here at Cokebusters, we listen to our clients’ concerns and consistently seek innovative ways to improve.

Customer Support

We highly value all our clients and take pride in our excellent record for customer service and support.

Problem Solving

Our skilled and experienced team are adept at identifying and solving problems on site in a timely and efficient manner.

Giving Back

Since 2010 we have also run a veterans’ charity from our UK headquarters. Find out more by scrolling down…

Our Story

Cokebusters roots reach back to the beginnings of fired heater decoking with pigs (pigging).  Back in 1993 two senior members of Cokebusters worked on the first mechanical decoke in Europe at the Elf Refinery in Wales.  Smart Pig R&D began in the late 1990s, with the first patent application made by John Phipps in May 2000.

In April 2005 the incorporation of Cokebusters Ltd. brought together the long heritage of “pigging” and the forward thinking endeavours of tube inspection under one roof.  The company has been going from strength to strength ever since, functioning out of our pre-war Armoury Building on Hawarden Aviation Park just a stone’s throw from the BAe/Airbus Factory.

The wealth of industrial experience accumulated by our team of engineers and operators has informed our ability to develop innovative technologies which enable us to best serve our clients. For example, after years of mechanical decoking, it was the close understanding of furnace tube geometry which led to the single-bodied Merlin Mark IV Smart Pig.  As a consequence, Cokebusters is now the only company in the world to offer a high performance Combined Service of expert decoking and tube inspection, delivered with time and cost efficiency.

Meet The Team | COKEBUSTERS 

So you’ve learned that it all began with a handful of enthusiastic “Piggers” who had over a decade of experience in the industry and were ready to start a new chapter.  There are now 26 full-time employees at our UK headquarters and with demand for our services increasing and plans to build a brand new Technology Centre, we have plenty to keep the team busy!  Let us introduce you to the key players who keep us all in line:

John Phipps

John Phipps


John founded Cokebusters over a decade ago and has been at the helm ever since, working hard to ensure its success.  With a background in building and a passion for engineering, he is able to draw on an invaluable combination of entrepreneurial, practical and analytical skills. John recalls back in 1997 it was the demand from clients… “How do we know the tubes are clean?” which launched him down the long pathway to find a scientific answer and led to the Merlin tube inspection technology.

Glen Gamble

Glen Gamble

Managing Director

Glen’s Oil Refinery career started with helping to dismantle BP Oil’s Kent refinery after its closure in 1982.  After a move north he bumped into John Phipps and the two have now worked together for over 25 years. Glen attended the first ever European ‘Pig Decoking’ operation in 1993 and he has been working relentlessly to help keep refineries across the globe running safely and efficiently ever since.  Glen is particularly proud of Cokebusters’ zero TLI (time loss injury) record.

David Thewsey PhD

David Thewsey PhD

Technical Director | MIT

David is the Director of the Merlin Inspection Technology Department within Cokebusters, leading a cross-functional team of engineers and technicians in all aspects of the inspection service.  He holds a 1st class honours degree in Electronic Engineering, as well as a PhD for work in the field of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering.  Drawing on his extensive experience as a Senior Engineer, David’s current focus is on the design and development of the Merlin Mark V Intelligent Pigging System.

Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh

Operations Manager | MIT

Joe is an experienced Mechanical Engineer who joined the team in 2014 as an Inspection Technician. Having held senior roles in both the aviation and process engineering industries, he is well-placed to lead the day to day operations of the Merlin Inspection Department.  Joe’s primary focus is maintaining the company’s reputation as a class leading service provider in the smart pigging field.


Incorporated in late 2012, Cokebusters USA Inc. opened its premises in Houston in February 2013.  Refineries across the United States have welcomed our unique Combined Service of pig decoking & smart pigging, seeing this as a total solution to fired heater maintenance and improved performance.  In response to increasing demand, the Cokebusters USA team are working hard to build a reputation for delivering a consistently reliable and high quality service.

Gary Winter

Gary Winter

Chief Operating Officer | Cokebusters USA

Gary joined Cokebusters in 2006 as Technical Manager.  He worked on the development and manufacturing of our specialist decoking machinery, whilst achieving his Grade 1S decoking status.  In 2013 Gary moved to Texas where he established Cokebusters USA, continuing the British company’s ethos of honesty, reliability and quality of service. Gary strives for Cokebusters to be a US Refiner’s first point of contact for all their decoking and smart pigging needs.

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

MIT Manager | Cokebusters USA

Robert’s experience in a number of NDT methods, including Phased Array (PAUT) and Long-Range Ultrasonic Testing (LRUT), has enabled him to rise rapidly through the ranks since joining Cokebusters as an Inspection Technician in 2013.  He transferred to the Houston office in 2014 to head up Cokebusters USA’s inspection department and is proud to have overseen the successful introduction of the Merlin Mark IV Intelligent pigging system into the American market.

Koehl McDaniel

Koehl McDaniel

Health & Safety Manager | Cokebusters USA

As the Health and Safety Manager, Koehl joined the U.S. team in 2017 to cultivate and grow an already forward thinking company to new heights in the world of safety.  With his Bachelors degree in Safety Management, Koehl is now looking to achieve his CSP.  His objective is to lead, train and inject his knowledge into both divisions of Cokebusters. In his words: “Safety is something that can be achieved through a mindset, no matter where we are in the world.” Koehl wants the highest standards of safety and quality for our employees and customers.

D-Day Revisited


Back in 2008 Cokebusters founder, John Phipps, became interested in the plight of WWII Veterans trying to raise funds to enable them to travel back to Normandy to pay their respects on the 65th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.  After assisting a local veterans group, we decided to establish a registered Charity out of our premises in North Wales with the objective of funding and arranging similar pilgrimages each year leading up to the 75th anniversary in 2019.

The D-Day Landings in June 1944 remain the largest seaborne landings in world history. Thousands of lives were lost in this massive offensive, and we hope to pay some small tribute to the boys who never came home by ensuring they are not forgotten.  It means a great deal to the men and women who fought to liberate Europe to be able come together with old comrades and have the opportunity to pay tribute and remember those friends they left behind.  And of course it is a huge privilege for us to be able to assist them to do this.

Naturally our priority is given to British Veterans, however there has also been contribution from Cokebusters USA in meeting costs of American Veteran involvement.

Visit www.d-dayrevisited.co.uk to learn more!

Our passion for engineering | John Phipps

“In my office stands a Rolls Royce Merlin engine; a V12 of 27 litres (1,650 cubic inches) manufactured in 1941.  This was the finest piston engine in the world, powering the Spitfires and Hurricanes to victory, along with the American P51 Mustang and many other war machines.  British factories could not build this remarkable unit fast enough so a deal was struck with Packard Motors: to form a dynamic partnership with the energy and industrial might of the United States.

This engine is one of 37,000 made in Detroit. To me it is an exciting symbol of that unbeatable alliance of engineering – matching the best design with the best production capability.  This winning formula teaches lessons in our modern world.  At Cokebusters we appreciate industrial heritage and have a genuine passion for engineering.  This is not merely a British/American story, but one about also seeking the best from European manufacturers – where can we source the finest components for our specialist machinery and how can we build in true reliability for tough site work demands?

We form close relationships with our suppliers, ensuring quality for our fabrication and assembly.  A decoking machine is treated like a Formula 1 racer – it must deliver high performance right through to the finishing line; servicing and repairs can be carried out when the Client has been served.  This Cokebusters passion for engineering continues, each machine produced being a little better than the last; scraper pigs improving and ongoing investment in research & development – always pushing the boundaries of technology.”