Falconbridge's data highway

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 81, No. 916, 1988

LLOYD F. DUNHAM,Falconbridge Limited, Toronto, Ontario

Crucial to the implementation of new computer-based information systems at Sudbury Operations of Falconbridge Limited was a data communications network that would take computing power to the various mine and plant sites. Falcon-bridge required a capability to provide on-line data entry, inquiry, and reporting capabilities in three geographical areas, six mines, two mills, a smelter, approximately fifty shops, seven warehouses and numerous administrative offices throughout the Sudbury basin. Conventional cabling methods were rejected based on the projected cost of installation of necessary cables; lack of flexibility to meet the changing requirements of the mine environment; and the risk of losing service to an entire area depending on solitary communication lines. Instead, Falconbridge selected and installed a Data Carrier System (DCS) and Packet Switching Communication System from Teltone Limited, Markham, Ontario. This combined system "piggy-backs" computer data over voice-grade twisted pair wire, bringing data to the associated PBX equipment. From there data packets are assembled and routed to the central computer site where they are disassembled for entry into the host machine. Falconbridge has been successful in using existing technology to solve communications problems in a difficult environment. Plans for the future of this network will increase its utilization for technical and real time data communications in addition to the business systems workload it now handles. The Computer Services group in Sudbury is confident that the data highway will handle communications traffic well into the future.
Keywords: Computer applications, Data communications, Communications network, Data processing, Computers.