John T. Conboy - Vallecitos Atomic Laboratory
When the Vallecitos hot lab began operations in June of 1957, our initial workload consisted of several hundred irradiated samples. Manual accounting methods were used to maintain identity, description, nuclear material weights, and location of specimens. As the volume of samples increased it was quite evident that a more streamlined method of data handling was needed. After careful deliberation of the cost, timing, equipment, and reliability requirements of proposed systems, a machine method of data handling was initiated at our hot lab. Essentially, it is a unit inventory control system, whereby a standard 80-column punch card is used to represent each finite sample in the laboratory. As changes occur to the specimen, corresponding changes are punched onto the card. These cards contain the identification, description, nuclear material weight, and location of all samples located within the hot lab material balance area. By periodically \"updating\" or changing information on these cards, we are able to maintain an accurate administrative control for: (1) Source and special nuclear material accountability. (2) Mass criticality within the operating and storage areas. (3) Sample identification, description, and location for experimental purposes. This system has been in effect since January, 1958. Since that time, we have found it to be a very reliable, inexpensive, and rapid method of handling all kinds of information that affect the over-all operating parameters of the hot lab. In order to describe the development of the data processing system at the Val— lecitos hot lab, it is perhaps best to acquaint you with the facilities, our types of operations, the steps taken to establish the system, and finally some typical examples of how the system works.