New or Old, Industry 4.0 Adoption a MustBy Pedro Alcalá | Fri, 05/08/2020 - 12:36
Q: How would you describe Belden’s participation in the Mexican oil and gas industry?
A: Belden has been working in Mexico for the last 30 years, and the oil and gas market has been a key part of our portfolio from the beginning. As a brand, we have a significant presence and installed capacity at a number of PEMEX facilities. This includes communication cabling, variable-frequency drive (VFD) cabling and industrial fiber optics of various standards designed for the oil and gas industry. We work with a number of operators in the Gulf of Mexico area, and with others in states such as Baja California. These include companies like Marinsa, Wood, Schlumberger, ENI, Apollocom, Diavaz and Turbomaquinarias. We also work with many oil and gas industry associations to promote training and to educate Mexico’s engineering workforce. We have organized a number of events to this end in the states of Campeche, Veracruz and Tamaulipas. Our main goal is to highlight the importance of applying world-class industrial solutions in oil and gas facilities. As a result, Belden has evolved from being a supplier of oil and gas products to a supplier of oil and gas solutions and education. Our presence at events such as CMP have earned us that reputation. Lately, at the conferences in which we participate, we have been stressing the importance of cybersecurity in oil and gas operations. Belden offers a number of cybersecurity solutions focused on the oil and gas sector. There is still a great deal of opportunity for our coverage in the industry to expand, but we are well-positioned in all the major projects.
Q: What is your perspective on PEMEX’s ongoing digital transformation?
A: I think PEMEX is trying to keep up with the new technological standards, however, there are other issues when it comes to strategy and operations that should be considered. There is an opportunity to mitigate the presence of bad practices in the company’s day-to-day tasks. People within PEMEX who I have been in contact with have told me that they know where investment needs to be allocated. They know which processes need their attention, whether to be fixed or just made more efficient. They even know how their budget needs to be restructured to address these needs. It is simply a matter of executing these changes. We are familiar with the needs of the Mexican industry. Our goal is to support PEMEX as it goes through these necessary changes.
A great deal of progress in this regard has also been enabled by the expanded presence of private operators that have opened a new world in Mexico by implementing new technologies. The fact that new operators in the industry own their facilities and infrastructure means that the old standards of investment and maintenance that were set completely by PEMEX no longer apply. Today, there are many more possible paths to take regarding digital transformation and the transition to Industry 4.0. Ten or 15 years ago, this never would have been possible. PEMEX is also beginning to have a much clearer view the benefits of this transition could bring due to recent events. For example, the 2019 hacking of PEMEX’s networks led to historically heavy data losses that were preventable and that made the incentives to invest in digital transformation overwhelmingly clear to the NOC. Because of all these circumstances, Mexico continues to be a fertile market for investment in new technologies; in the oil and gas sector. Nevertheless, these investments need to be accelerated.
In Mexico these investments need to be adapted to the prevailing political strategy. For example, in the downstream sector, the Mexican government is betting on a brownfield strategy when it comes to the money being spent to revamp its old refineries. The truth is that when it comes to refineries, stretching their productive life past a certain point is not desirable and a greenfield strategy based on the building of all-new facilities would be preferable, but the investment must be adapted to the strategy. Industry 4.0 standards must be adapted at these old refineries. Every machine and component within the refinery need to be talking with each other over a network and generating data regarding their performance and possible errors. Belden can offer integrated solutions that pull together cabling, wireless communications, remote monitoring and control hardware and software, not to mention the adaptation of old legacy machines to new protocols. Belden can also offer greenfield solutions for projects starting from scratch, in particular those pertaining to new drilling platforms and offshore infrastructure. In Mexico, new companies can motivate old ones to adopt this transition.
Q: How is Belden dividing its project portfolio?
A: Our commercial structure is always based on distributors and integrators. Belden and all of its brands act as manufacturers, and the quality of our products in undoubtedly our central focus. Meeting quality and technical standards in all the countries in which we have a significant presence takes up quite a bit of our time on its own. We are the only company that can guarantee its electrical conductors for up to 10 years. We also offer from five to 10 years of warranty for our industrial networking switches, which are also unique within the industry. Through our world class distributors and integrators, we push for the design of solutions and for the engineering of best practices that our products can support. This includes communication systems and cybersecurity systems, which we insist be prioritized by our clients through the promotion of certification. We provide certifications that are internationally recognized. We also certify engineers for up to two years, not only in the use, implementation and configuration of our products but also in the design and engineering of field-tested solutions through our products. These solutions and applications apply to oil and gas and to other sectors such as energy, automotive and manufacturing. We remain closely tied to the companies that apply these solutions and have seen them succeed through the use of these applications.
Belden is a global supplier of cabling products, industrial networking switches, cyber security and solutions that ensure data connectivity in a wide variety of industrial sectors and work environments, including oil and gas.