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“Laptops do weird things at -60°F”

07-10-2018 11:07 AM CET | IT, New Media & Software

Press release from: Perle Systems

Sumitomo Pogo Mine use Perle Device Servers

Sumitomo Pogo Mine use Perle Device Servers

If I ever find myself in the remote Alaskan interior, I would like to meet Mike Spooner, Telecom and Infrastructure Technician at the Sumitomo Pogo Mine. Why? This man is a story teller. A good story teller. So good, that he can make a story about setting up a networked virtual serial port extremely entertaining.

Okay, I sense your doubt, and I don’t blame you. There can’t possibly be anything more boring than a story about setting up a virtual serial port to download data remotely but, I challenge you to give this one a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

People employed in the mining industry are accustomed to working in remote locations. Because mines tend to operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day, employees stay at the mining camp for multi-day shifts before returning home. In the case of Pogo Mine, these people also find themselves dealing with below freezing temperatures for 7 months out of the year. We are talking -60F in treacherous surroundings with a real chance of frostbite.

At Pogo mine, diesel is the major fuel source. It runs everything, including trucks, generators, mining equipment and the heating system. The diesel fuel is dispensed at the on-site fuel island where dispensed quantities are logged using a “Computrol Fuelboy” Proximity Card system. However, Fuelboy can only hold 150 transactions in its finite memory. At that point it shuts down and no more fuel can be dispensed until the transaction log has been downloaded and cleared.

Spooner tells his story, The cure? I get to go down there in the cold, plug a laptop into its RS232 Serial port and download the transaction log, then it starts working again. I spent 2 months doing this every 2-3 days. The poor old laptop and I were not enjoying the -60 temps, at all. There were lots of frustrations and bad words. Laptops do weird things at -60°F. I needed a way to stay out of the cold but the Fuelboy software would not support any kind of networked connection and required a null-modem serial link for download.

The situation that Mike Spooner found himself in is quite common. A lot of equipment that is used in industrial environments run software applications that have been written to communicate with devices that are directly connected to a computer’s serial COM port.

Spooner continues, So, I decided to find out if it was possible set up a networked virtual serial port. That’s when I learned about the IOLAN SDG and TruePort.

Since the original transaction log application was designed to talk directly to a specific COM port on the Fuelboy, a solution, which is seamless to both the application and device, must be implemented to enable communication across an IP network infrastructure. In other words, a solution that makes the application think it is talking directly to the COM port is required. People often refer to this as creating a "virtual serial port" or creating a "virtual COM port". TruePort software, used with an IOLAN SDG Serial Device Server provides the ideal solution. It makes remote serial ports appear as if they are directly connected COM or TTY ports to the application.

Mike Spooner continues, I ordered an IOLAN SDG1, started playing with it, and realized it just might fit the bill. So, I set up a 900mhz data-radio shot between the Fuel Island and a base-station, located across a parking lot, with the installed IOLAN. BAM! It worked! First attempt!

I head back to my office, a mile away, to test it from there, and BAM! It worked again!!! For the next week, every morning I’d come in and do a download whether it needed it or not, just for the thrill of it.

Mike concludes, Well, the old laptop got turned into a Virtual Machine where we can login and download fuel logs in a matter of moments, without getting cold. The new system has had thousands of days of uptime by now. After seeing how well the solution works, and how incredibly stable it has been, Perle has forever won a place in my heart as the go-to solution for all things ‘conversion’. So, needless to say, you have a happy customer here!

Read the original Case Study on perle.com

About Perle Systems www.perle.com

Perle Systems is a leading developer, manufacturer and vendor of high-reliability and richly featured connectivity and device networking products. These products are used to connect remote users reliably and securely to central servers for a wide variety of business applications. Product lines include Console Servers, Terminal Servers, Device Servers, Media Converters, Ethernet Copper Extenders, Ethernet I/O, Serial Cards, Parallel Cards, Remote Power Switches and Multimodem Cards. Since 1976, Perle has distinguished itself through extensive networking technology, depth of experience in major real-world network environments and long-term distribution and VAR channel relationships in major world markets. Perle has offices in 9 countries in North America, Europe and Asia and sells its products through distribution and OEM/ODE channels worldwide.

Julie McDaniel
VP Marketing
pr@perle.com

Perle Systems Inc.
830 Fesslers Parkway, Suite 108
Nashville, TN 37210
Tel: +1 800-467-3753

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