News Article

Modernization Demands Quality Industrial Wireless Tech

By Pedro Alcalá | Fri, 01/29/2021 - 09:55

The majority of Mexican oil and gas facilities, structures and equipment could be considered of a mature age. This stark fact does not make them less operational or unable to perform their functions properly. It does mean that they require support through additional infrastructure if they are to perform to higher industry standards.

This can be particularly true when it comes to Mexican downstream infrastructure. Mexico’s refineries have now accumulated several decades of service, forcing operators to modernize them. A refinery modernization can be expensive and time consuming, creating additional costs and production downtime.

An oil and gas industry adage of recent coinage is that a contemporary refinery should only have two employees, a man and a dog. The man is hired to feed the dog and the dog is hired to make sure the man does not go near the controls. What this means for Mexico is that one of the key aspects of any refinery’s modernization is the installation of industrial wireless monitoring equipment that plays an essential role in the refinery’s automation. 

Construction on the Miguel Hidalgo refinery, known as the Tula Refinery, began in 1972. It was inaugurated in 1976, at a pivotal moment in Mexico’s oil and gas industry: the discovery of the shallow water Cantarell field in the Campeche Basin. At that time, it was believed to be the largest oil field in the world and created the expectation that Mexican oil and gas activities would be comparable to those of the Arabian Peninsula. Its latest modernization happened in 2010 and one of the first actions taken in this process was the implementation of wireless monitoring and analysis components and systems.

Belden became a key service provider in the supply of these technologies, completing the first phase of their implementation in December 2010. Ricardo Velázquez Espinosa, Belden’s former industrial networking solutions manager for Mexico and Central America, said to Control Engineering magazine in its June 2012 edition: “The PEMEX Tula Refinery increased efficiency and is protecting critical cooling tower assets with wireless monitoring and analysis of process and vibration sensor data. Wirelessly transmitted information will help predictive maintenance efforts, and 20 hours per week of manual data collection time can be used more productively.” 


Belden is a global supplier of cabling products, industrial networking switches, cybersecurity and solutions that ensure data connectivity in a wide variety of industrial sectors and work environments, including oil and gas.  

To read our interview with Ricardo Velázquez, click here

Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Journalist and Industry Analyst