IMS uses Rocky DEM to optimize mining equipment designs

Rocky DEM enables us to evaluate multiple designs quickly, even from concept phase - to select the most efficient and cost-effective solution, which would be considerably more complex with traditional methods” - Jaco Kotzé, Design Engineer at IMS

Today’s mining industry is extremely dynamic and competitive; R&D teams in this sector often face difficult product-design challenges.

Continually changing market demands mean that a hit-or-miss approach to product development is costly and inefficient. IMS Engineering, an internationally owned, South African based company that specializes in comminution and separation technologies, is among leading organizations to recognize the importance that technology plays in overcoming product development challenges.

The company found that by applying discrete element method (DEM) as an additional value add for their market, they have formulated the ideal solution for optimizing their processes, since their core focus depends on significant innovation at minimal cost. “By performing simulations, we can improve existing designs and further develop our innovation, both in terms of current technologies and new markets/developments,” said Jaco Kotzé, Design Engineer at IMS.

A faster solution to design improvements

Two recent IMS projects required evaluation of multiple designs to select the most efficient, costeffective solution. To achieve these goals, IMS chose Rocky DEM as their particle simulation and discrete element method tool. “Rocky is the most advanced DEM package on the market today, and, for our specific needs, the use of shaped particles combined with an accurate breakage model is critical,” said Kotzé.

In the first case, the optimal feeding arrangement for a cone crusher was evaluated. “It is really critical having the correct feeding arrangement for a cone crusher”, said Kotzé. “This ensures that the crusher can perform optimally, resulting in consistent throughput, even wear of the crusher elements and a
good product shape, where all of these are very important to our clients.”

For this particular study some material segregation was noticed with the proposed feeding arrangement. If implemented, this would result in an underperforming crusher with irregular throughput and an uneven wear profile of the crushing elements. Rectifying the feed arrangement would be costly and time consuming to do on site. By doing a simulation during the design phase, the
feeding arrangement was adjusted quickly and without any additional downtime, and the costs associated with it.

For a feeder breaker case, the team had to evaluate the configuration of the equipment’s natural hopper as well as its resulting live volume. “The primary benefit of our feeder breaker equipment is that it does not require any costly fixed feed bin arrangement”, said Kotzé. “Material is fed directly onto the chain feeder deck and the resulting natural hopper is formed when material is extracted. Because this natural hopper is dynamically formed, the live volume of the hopper is heavily dependent on the feed material properties, which in turn directly impacts on the equipment operation. With a DEM simulation, this can easily be calculated and we could further evaluate the most effective feeding arrangement for optimal system performance”, said Kotzé.

The IMS design team recognized that it would be difficult to combine experimental analysis with traditional methods in order to optimize these equipment designs, whilst endeavouring to ensure cost effectiveness and optimal product functionality. The IMS design team therefore identified DEM technology as a powerful tool to drive continual development of innovation in the mining environment
— since, in this challenging market, there is no room for hit-or-miss approaches. By using Rocky DEM, the IMS team could now evaluate existing and concept designs, equipment performance, and installation to verify results quickly and more accurately than ever before.

Beyond having an easy-to-use and powerful tool, IMS has the support of Qfinsoft, the Rocky channel partner in South Africa, which offers professional assistance from initial simulation setup right through to the end results. “The power of Rocky DEM together with the exceptional support and service we get from Qfinsoft is simply the best combination,” says Kotzé.

Rocky DEM’s intuitive, user-friendly interface together with the software’s power and ease of use has brought transformative benefits to IMS. By improving processes and encouraging innovation, the company can evaluate Founded in 1949, South Africa-based IMS Engineering (IMS) is a leading comminution and separation/sorting technology provider. It focuses on end-product requirements and
provides optimal crushing solutions, from concept to design through to end of plant. IMS Engineering is supported by Rocky DEM channel partner Qfinsoft, South Africa.

Next Step

To IMS, Rocky DEM proved to be the ideal tool to overcome the company’s challenges, so computer simulation will be incorporated into routine project development and existing-product improvement. In practice, Rocky DEM can be a critical part of the R&D design team’s daily routine in designing, making material calibrations and test work, and optimizing new or existent equipment.

Because the mining industry is transforming quickly and dynamically, companies must remain attentive and invest in the latest technology to become more competitive. Rocky DEM gives IMS a new perspective on how it develops products, endowing the company with a great technological edge.