Anyone who has ever lost cell phone reception knows how frustrating that experience can be – whether visiting a remote area, passing through a tunnel or standing in an elevator.

It’s no different for Suncor workers who need reliable communications technology to do their jobs safely at our operating sites. Through Suncor’s digital transformation, we are enhancing technology and innovation to improve safety and our operating performance. A part of this effort is the new Cell on Wheels (COWs) program at our mining operations in northern Alberta’s Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB).

The COWs program involves installing cell towers with fibre optic technology throughout a mine to provide better cell reception and connectivity. Starting at Fort Hills, about 90 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, the speed and reliability of connectivity has markedly improved, making it possible for workers to use new technology like Suncor’s mining information app across the work site.

three images of our Fort Hills south pit heat maps
Above is Suncor’s Fort Hills south pit, the redder the area = better coverage. This before and after infrared photo shows how cell service increased once new portable cell towers were turned up on Feb. 3. 

Our mining operations are performed in a dynamic environment with ever-changing conditions., Access to apps that store and manage operational data in real-time, make it possible for employees to make more responsive, data-driven decisions. 

“With this superior connectivity we can enable even more innovations, deliver untapped value, keep our people safe and truly unleash the potential of our employees,” explains Sean Parkinson, director of cloud platforms and infrastructure. 

The COWs program will be available at our Oil Sands Millennium mine in RMWB later this year.