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Editor’s Pick: Model Bulk Materials and Multibody Dynamics Together

New co-simulation solutions couple discrete element method analysis and multibody dynamics.

DEM Solutions says new co-simulation couplings linking its EDEM discrete element method (DEM) simulation software with multibody dynamics solutions from leading developers provide engineers the capabilities for modeling and visualizing the dynamics of equipment movement and examining how loads exerted by bulk materials distribute throughout the mechanical system. Image courtesy of DEM Solutions Ltd.


Sponsored ContentDear Desktop Engineering Reader:

It’s a little known fact that Santa Claus has a custom-designed reindeer-hauled sleigh to handle the coal for the stockings of the naughty. He fills it with a payloader. And that’s the problem. He trashes sleighs constantly. See, the old guy has no understanding of the coal’s effect as it thumpity thump thumps in the sleigh. So every year, the elves in engineering tried to design a practical process for Santa to use to dump coal into the sleigh. Only they did not understand the material-machine interaction either. Until this year.

Since last January, Santa’s engineering elves have been beta testing a new series of co-simulation solutions from DEM Solutions that gave them the insights they needed into material-machine interactions to design Santa an optimized process for coal sleigh loading. And, just in time for Santa’s big day, these co-simulation solutions are available for all.

The DEM in DEM Solutions and EDEM, the company’s flagship software platform, denotes Discrete Element Method. EDEM empowers you to simulate and analyze the flow behavior of bulk solid materials. It is particularly tuned for designing and optimizing equipment to handle and/or process bulk materials like ores, tablets, powders, fibers and, of course, coal.

EDEM interfaces with major engineering technologies like CFD (computational fluid dynamics) or FEA (finite element analysis). It fits in and helps you create a multiphysics simulation environment. The new co-simulation solutions extend EDEM’s couplings to multibody dynamics (MBD) software tools like MSC Software’s Adams, Simulink from MathWorks and LMS Virtual.Lab Motion from Siemens PLM Software.

In hands-on terms, this means you can link EDEM’s bulk material simulation and analysis functionalities with an MBD solver’s ability to control the motion of interconnected and articulated equipment like a payloader’s bucket and control arms. This, in turn, should give you insight into how the machine and material interact since it provides the capability and functionality to model and visualize the dynamics of equipment movement. You can also examine the distribution of loads exerted by bulk materials throughout the mechanical system. And that means you no longer need to estimate how deeply a bucket will penetrate the ground or how long a truck body will take to empty because this data can be simulated, predicted and incorporated into the MBD model directly.

The co-simulation capability operates a bit differently for each supported application. You can read more about those particulars in today’s Pick of the Week write-up. The common outline of how it works is that the EDEM Coupling Interface, a programmable interface that enables bidirectional communication between EDEM and the MBD simulators, provides time-step synchronization between the platforms. EDEM calculates the forces acting on the equipment contacting the bulk material and returns this data to the MBD solver for it to use to control the dynamics of the equipment.

The reports I’ve read from the North Pole indicate that a key benefit of the EDEM-MBD linkage is that it pretty much eliminates the guesswork and a lot of physical prototyping. It makes investigating new designs simpler, and the realistic predictions EDEM and EDEM-MBD link produce have helped improve performance. For example, the elves have been able to optimize the design of both the payloader operations and Santa’s coal sleigh, increasing the efficiency of the former and the durability of the latter. Additionally, equipment weight has been reduced, fill levels in the buckets increased and loading and unloading cycles shortened.

At the end of today’s Pick of the Week write-up, you’ll find a couple of links to 30-second animations of an excavator moving cohesive soil (clay) and coal that’ll give you a quick visual of how the new EDEM-MBD co-simulation solutions operate. Make sure to take in the video overview of EDEM itself. It’s a unique tool and the new co-simulation seems to make it even more so.

Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood

Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

Read today’s pick of the week write-up.

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About the Author

Anthony J. Lockwood's avatar
Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Digital Engineering’s founding editor. He is now retired. Contact him via [email protected].

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