Traffic Control

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traffic control

[′traf·ik kən‚trōl]
Control of the movement of vehicles, such as airplanes, trains, and automobiles, and the regulatory mechanisms and systems used to exert or enforce control.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Traffic Control


(in Russian, dispetcherizatsiia —introduction of a dispatcher system), the centralization (concentration) of day-to-day monitoring and coordination of the control over production processes to ensure harmonious operation of the individual units of an enterprise or group of enterprises for the achievement of the highest technical and economic indexes and the fulfillment of work schedules and production programs. Traffic control is intended to provide uniformity of the work loads of all units of the enterprise; the uninterrupted, smooth, and economical implementation of all processes of the basic production cycle; and the continuous operation of auxiliary and maintenance units. As a result of changes in the composition of the production output, adjustments in technology and methods of manufacture, and the different levels of program fulfillment by various workers and production units, and also in connection with stoppages because of equipment repairs and interruptions in the delivery schedule for materials, previously established proportions and rhythm are disrupted. The task of traffic control includes the regulation of the production process to reestablish the previous ratios and rhythm in the work of an enterprise or the introduction of new ratios and rhythm. Traffic control encompasses the regulation of technological processes; the monitoring and day-to-day distribution of transportation and material and energy resources; and the recording of the operation of machines and mechanisms; it also increases the safety and precision of transportation traffic. Since it helps to prevent idleness of equipment and losses of working time and assists in the implementation of orders on schedule, traffic control has a positive influence on the economic structure of production.

The simplest form of dispatcher control originated during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries in conjunction with the transition from handicraft and semi-handicraft production to factory and plant production. Originally, the basic function of dispatcher control was the distribution of manpower, raw materials, and supplies and the inventorying of the finished product. With the development of large-series and mass flow production, the emergence of production links between related enterprises, the creation of large industrial and power associations, and the rapid improvement of transportation, traffic control became essential for the day-to-day regulation of an intricate complex of technological processes and of the interaction of individual units of transportation systems. Primitive dispatcher control gave way to modern traffic control, based on advanced methods of management and supervision, using the newest means of communication, automation, closed-circuit television, telemechanics, and computer technology. Traffic control has become one of the most important means of management in industry, power engineering, transportation, construction, agriculture, and trade.

The structure of traffic control depends on the nature and scale of the management unit. The simplest type of traffic control as it is understood today is implemented mainly through two-way telephone contact with the units. Small enterprises and construction sites usually have one traffic-control station. Several local traffic-control stations and one central station, which coordinates their activity, operate at large units with ramified or multistage structures (for example, a power system).

In power engineering, traffic control implements day-today control of electric power plants and substations, transmission lines, and individual large consumer installations. Dispatcher control is called upon to ensure uninterrupted and reliable operation of the power system, the distribution of electric power according to the load schedule, maintenance of the parameters established for the power system (voltage and frequency in power systems; steam temperature and pressure and water temperature in heat systems), and maximum economy of operation of the power system through optimal use of various sources of energy (steam, hydroelectric, atomic, and other power plants; heat and electric power plants; and central boiler rooms). The dispatcher of a power system supervises and coordinates the operation of several power plants and electric power-systems within the framework of one power system. Depending on the scale of the system, its regulation may be concentrated at a single traffic-control station or at several stations, whose activities are coordinated from a central station. Any changes in the operating condition of the elements of the power system (connection and disconnection of transmission lines, shutdown and start-up of units at electric power plants, covering peak loads, the supply of fuel, and conducting preventive maintenance) are possible only with knowledge and instruction of the corresponding dispatcher. Information about the condition of units is given the dispatcher by duty workmen, engineers, supervisory technicians, and inspectors or is gathered, recorded, and processed by automated data collection and processing systems. The information received is represented by various types of displays and signals on the dispatcher’s console and on screens of television monitoring units and specialized display devices. As a rule, the traffic-control stations of large power systems are equipped with electronic regulating machines.

Industrial enterprises or groups of enterprises with continuous production processes, whose operation may be described mathematically, use logic devices or control computers for automated processing of incoming information. The problems of traffic control for enterprises with quantified production processes are somewhat different, mainly because even an article of average complexity contains scores, sometimes even thousands, of parts, with different manufacturing technology. The mathematical description of such processes for the purpose of automating the entire production cycle is very complex. In this case dispatcher control must include not only the supervision of the operation of conveyors and production lines (output of finished products) but also the coordination of the activity of all units, shops, departments, laboratories, and depots, even including the auxiliary services that ensure the smooth operation and high output of the main conveyor.

A new form of traffic control, interplant control, developed in the production of particularly complex items—units and industrial complexes in whose manufacture several independent adjacent or collaborating enterprises take part (frequently from various sectors of industry, with the participation of scientific research institutes and planning organizations). In addition to ordinary documentation and technology, interplant dispatcher control also makes wide use of the method of systems planning and management. One of the trends in the development of traffic control calls for the combination of the regulation of processes with selection of the optimal distribution of operations among machines, units, and lines, thus making possible a reduction in the time spent on retooling of equipment and an increase in labor productivity. Any stoppage of production is detected by means of traffic control, and the responsibility for losses associated with the stoppage is assigned to the units that caused the stoppage.

Further improvement in traffic control will free production managers (foremen and shop superintendents) from labor-intensive work in providing industrial units with raw materials, supplies, and semifinished products and in regulating the rate of the production process and will enable them to concentrate on work with labor groups and on the solution of technical, organizational, and economic problems.

Because of the specific requirements of individual types of transportation and differences in their technical equipment, the structure and organization of dispatcher control for motor-vehicle, air, water, and railroad transportation differ markedly from dispatcher control at an industrial enterprise. The common goal of traffic control for all types of transportation is to ensure reliability and uninterrupted service in transporting passengers and freight. A distinguishing feature of transportation traffic control is the constantly changing situation on the lines and at points of origin and termination and significant daily, monthly, and annual variations in traffic and freight schedules of transportation resources; this variation is associated with the seasonal nature of work in certain branches of industry and with the length of the workday, vacation periods, the suburban season, out-of-town trips on days off, and the weather on the route. The main tasks of transportation traffic control are the continuous monitoring of the condition and availability of vehicles and rolling stock and of the state of schedules for loading and unloading operations, the observation of traffic schedules, and the provision of tickets and the necessary travel information for passengers. At large railroad junctions, airports, and sea and river ports, the introduction of traffic control calls for the creation of several traffic-control stations, whose operation is coordinated by a chief dispatcher from a central station equipped with modern means of radio and telephone communication, automation, telemechanics, and computer technology. As a rule, separate traffic-control stations are organized in areas of loading and unloading operations, at ticket windows, in depots and garages, at bus stops, and at the auxiliary buildings at communications stations.

Traffic control in construction is implemented by modern means of communication and by automatic inventory and monitoring. The tasks of traffic control in construction include the monitoring of the fulfillment of day-to-day plans for construction, the timely provision of labor, materials, structural elements, building machines, and transportation for the construction project, and the coordination of the work of construction units and elimination of idleness of machines and workers. The traffic-control system for the management of construction encompasses all elements of the building industry and its maintenance. A general scheme of dispatcher control in a construction trust includes a chief dispatcher in the main office of the trust, a branch dispatcher in construction and assembly departments and other units, shop dispatchers at production enterprises, and transportation and other dispatchers in service industries. Each dispatcher operates within his own unit; overall operational control and supervision on the scale of the entire trust is exercised by the chief dispatcher. Traffic-control stations are equipped with modern devices for communication and monitoring, collection, and recording of information. Current inventory data, as well as a number of schedules and tables by means of which the dispatcher may determine the state of production at any moment by overseeing all work operations for individual construction units and departments and for the trust as a whole, are concentrated at the stations.

Traffic control in agriculture is implemented by the traffic-control department of a kolkhoz or sovkhoz and embraces all production units of the industry, including day-to-day planning, the collection and processing of production information, the solution of concrete problems of material and technical supply, and the elimination of the factors that cause disruptions of the operating conditions at field mills, on farms, and in brigades and departments. Traffic-control posts may be set up in individual large enterprises (departments, farms, or garages) during periods of intensive field operations. The traffic-control station is generally located at the central office. Traffic control in agriculture may embrace entire raions and even oblasts in the centralization of supervision and management of agricultural production.


Malov, V. S., and V. K. Meshkov. Dispetcherskie punkty energeticheskikh sistem. Moscow-Leningrad, 1955.
Eikhenval’d, A. V., and A. R. Sochinskii. Operativnoproizvodstvennoe planirovanie i dispetchirovanie na mashinostroitel’nom zavode. Moscow, 1957.
Budantsev, lu. Elektronnye pomoshchniki dispetchera. Moscow, 1963.
Babenko, A. S. Dispetcherskaia sluzhba v sel’skom khoziaistve. Moscow, 1967.
Zheleznye dorogi. Edited by M. M. Filippov. Moscow, 1968.
Tekhnologiia i organizatsiia stroitel’nogo proizvodstva. Edited by I. G. Galkin. Moscow, 1969.
Val’denberg, lu. S., A. A. Belostotskii, and R. M. Abizov. Vychislitel’naia tekhnika na promyshlennom transpose. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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