DEM Solutions, which specializes in engineering applications of discrete element method (DEM) simulation, recently pointed out that its EDEM BulkSim bulk material flow simulation software is enabling leading engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) companies and conveyor system original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to optimize the design, performance and reliability of production critical conveyor transfer equipment in mine operations.

According to U.K.-based DEM Solutions, BulkSim provides EPCMs and conveyor system OEMs with a state-of-the-art simulation software tool that engineering design teams can use for designing bulk materials handling equipment that are more reliable, deliver greater material throughput and improve operational efficiencies—providing them with a competitive advantage as mine operators look to lower costs, improve production capabilities and increase margins.

“Often considered only a relatively low-cost part of a mine’s bulk materials handling system, transfer points can easily become a costly bottleneck and maintenance overhead,” said Dr. John Favier, CEO and founder of DEM Solutions. “Out of 100 engineers involved in mine operations surveyed at the Iron Ore 2013 Conference in Perth, Australia, more than 50% experienced chutes and transfer points as being the most problematic and causing the most maintenance problems, while asset care specialists added that 60% to 70% of downtime in iron ore processing is for maintenance of transfer chutes. With EDEM BulkSim, engineering and equipment suppliers can more effectively address the performance challenges of conveyor transfer equipment and reduce risk of unscheduled downtime for mine operators.”

According to the company, a recent white paper published by analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, commented that EDEM BulkSim is an important and leading simulation technology for the mining industry, which is seeking to increase return on capital assets. “By using EDEM BulkSim simulation solutions, mining companies and their engineering and equipment suppliers can make more informed decisions about the design and configuration of capital intensive and production-critical bulk materials handling equipment,” the paper noted. “This helps them reduce the costs related to unforeseen equipment malfunction, and increase the productivity and energy efficiency of ore handling and processing plants. It also helps in estimating the service life of equipment and systems, and in effective planning of maintenance schedules.”

Favier added, “The global mining industry has been ‘tightening its belt,’ which has resulted in a highly competitive market for engineering and equipment vendors who are challenged to reduce costs while improving productivity of existing mine operations through plant improvements and expansions. Consequences of poor conveyor transfer equipment design can result in late delivery, cost overruns and missing production targets—all which impact the profitability of mine operations. In order to reduce these risks, EPCM customers are now transitioning to large-scale use of EDEM BulkSim over traditional design methods to deliver engineering solutions to their clients that not only improve their conveyor transfer equipment performance and reliability but can also be easily deployed globally within and across engineering project teams.”

EDEM BulkSim simulation and analysis predicts bulk material flow and interaction with equipment components, enabling design engineers to identify and remedy potential problems in a design, such as material build-up and blockage, flow dispersion, spillage, size segregation, and excessive belt and chute wear—before commissioning.

EDEM BulkSim is claimed to provide an efficient, scalable, cost-effective solution for incorporating DEM simulation into existing design workflow to gain valuable insight into the effectiveness of designs, on a day-to-day basis, without the need to be a DEM expert. It gives users the ability to investigate the suitability of a design prior to fabrication and commissioning, enabling more informed decisions during the design cycle, lower risk, and deliver more reliable and better performing equipment for “right first time” installations.

As a product developed for use by design engineers, rather than DEM experts, its enhanced visualization and analysis tools and an improved user interface make it easier for engineers without DEM know-how to use EDEM BulkSim, according to the company.