The world is full of machines built to deal with bulk materials. Every day, millions of tons of dirt, rocks, gravel, and aggregate are moved, handled, and processed by equipment such as excavators, bulldozers, conveyor belts, and trucks. These machines are big and built to be tough, and operate in some of the world’s most challenging work conditions.
Designing and building such machines is big business. Thousands of engineers around the globe are tasked with making sense of exactly how their equipment must be designed to cope in a bulk material environment.
The influence that bulk materials has shouldn’t be underestimated. Take a front-end loader for example: when in operation, nearly every aspect of performance – from the material loads generated from contact between the material and the bucket, to how those loads are translated into stress on linkages, to the required hydraulic forces needed to move, to the traction on tires/tracks and delivery of power – are all dependent on bulk material loads. Understanding these loads and designing effectively to handle them can lead to significant improvements in equipment performance across a range of industries.
But here’s the thing … not only are bulk materials highly influential, they are also complex. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they are highly susceptible to variations in environmental properties such as moisture or compaction.
Take a material like sand, for example. When dry, it is free flowing, almost like a liquid; but after a heavy rain shower, it becomes highly cohesive and difficult to handle. The variability and complex nature of the materials means it is very difficult for engineers to predict exactly how they will behave with their equipment; however, accurate prediction is key to a successful design.
EDEM’s bulk materials simulation technology can recreate the behavior of any type of bulk material and how it interacts with equipment. It is used by leading companies across multiple sectors to design and optimise their equipment and processes. It is further designed to be used either standalone or combined with other CAE tools, including Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Multi-Body Dynamics (MBD), so realistic bulk material loads can be used instead of rough approximations, expensive test data, or assumption.
EDEM’s strong partnership with Hexagon’s MSC Software has resulted in a coupled solution between Adams and EDEM. This co-simulation capability means EDEM bulk material loads acting on equipment parts are used directly by Adams during simulation to increase the accuracy of systems dynamics’ predictions. The Adams-EDEM solution eliminates the need for test data or hand calculations to represent the variable bulk material loads, enabling engineers to make design optimisations from the beginning of the design cycle. As a result, prototyping demands are reduced, and a design can be evaluated for a wide range of materials, process conditions, and maneuvers in the virtual environment.
David Curry is Principal Engineer at EDEM, where he has worked since 2006. In his current role, David focuses on new and emerging application areas and oversees the advancement of EDEM technology. This includes co-simulation tools such as the Adams-EDEM coupling that enables bulk material loads to be used as part of systems dynamics analysis.