Transfer Chutes Design with Rocky DEM

This article focuses on how engineering simulations help better design transfer chutes for their smoother functioning and enhanced equipment life.

Transfer chutes are used widely for handling bulk materials. They can be used to change the direction of material flow and transfer material from one conveyor to another conveyor. A chute might seem to be a petty component in a huge plant, but it plays a significant role. If you don’t design the chute properly, you’ll witness a high maintenance cost, increased downtime and particle breakage. On the other hand, a well-built transfer chute can help reduce noise, decrease damage to conveyor belts and transfer chute walls, and reduce dust formation.

Prior to getting to design, I will list down the essential requirements for a good transfer chute design:

  1. Avoid material clogging
  2. Minimal equipment wear
  3. Minimal material degradation
DEM-Based Approach for Designing Transfer Chutes

Getting the optimum chute design is a time-consuming task because transfer chutes are not designed properly most of the times. For the above-mentioned design considerations, there are many constraints that you will need to apply while designing transfer chutes.

Discrete Element Method (DEM) can help designers such as you design better transfer chutes in lesser time. DEM can help you visualize the flow of particles (material) in transfer chute and provide useful data pertaining to each particle and all the boundaries in the chute. Needless to say, it is impossible to derive such level of detail from physical trials or finite element analysis. Besides providing much needed qualitative insights, DEM simulations enable you with the freedom to explore new designs and test them without the need for physical trials.

In the following sections, I’ll explain how Rocky DEM software will help you design high quality transfer chutes.

Avoid Material Clogging

Blockages in transfer chutes restrict the flow of material through the chute. Not only are blockages a detriment to the transport efficiency, but also they exert a lot of stress on the chute walls leading to serious damage. To make transfer chutes less prone to material blockages, impact angle should be decided based on material properties and inlet speed should also be tweaked accordingly.

Rocky DEM has all the capabilities necessary to address the needs for wet and dry material handling. Different material properties such as the rolling friction, static friction for particle interactions, elastic modulus, bulk density, adhesion coefficients can be accounted for. A unique capability of Rocky DEM is the availability of adhesion models that can replicate the flow of wet materials. This would foster the simulation of materials such as wet mortar in the construction industry or some crucial unit operations with wetting ingredients in the process industry.

Rocky DEM helps to model blockage and design better transfer chutes
Rocky DEM simulation showing blockage (blue colored particles are stationary)
Minimize Equipment Wear 

Wear leads to increased maintenance cost not only for transfer chutes, but also for the conveyor belt. Abrupt changes in material flow direction is one major reason for surface wear. The smoother the flow, the lesser will be the damage to transfer chutes. The angle at which the material hits the walls of the chute largely affects the wear. This angle will depend on the material velocity and properties of the material. Modification can be done to the chute design to minimize wear, such as by adding a curved guide surface at the mouth of the chute to direct the flow and make it smoother.

As you will understand, making these changes in physical trials and capturing test data is cumbersome. With Rocky DEM, this task is just a few clicks away. You can use any CAD tool to make geometry changes and then bring it into Rocky DEM to simulate performance of modified designs. Rocky DEM will provide you wall impact force; using this, you can decide the optimum velocity and finalize the most suitable design for the transfer chute.

Rocky DEM simulations showing Instantaneous Shear Power for transfer chutes
Instantaneous Shear Power for a transfer chute
Rocky DEM simulations showing Mean Shear Power for transfer chutes
Mean Shear Power for a transfer chute.
Minimize Material Degradation

The quality of the end product decides its price. Undesired material breakage and extravagant segregation or degradation can lead to a poor quality process outcomes. Particle degradation occurs due to impact on chute and shear either from collisions with walls or with other particles. Information about the forces that a particle experiences can give an indication of how much damage will occur.

Rocky DEM not only provides forces on each particle, but also simulates breakage of particle under higher forces using models which are backed by years of research. You can visualize the particle actually breaking into fragments as it proceeds through the chute.

Rocky DEM: Helping You Engineer Better Transfer Chutes

Designing Transfer Chutes is a complex process and testing multiple designs is an expensive affair. However, Rocky DEM makes it simpler, cost-effective, lesser equipment maintenance and upkeep, and helps you to produce a better quality product. It has the ability to

  • analyze large number of particles quickly due to its multi-GPU capabilities,
  • represent particle shapes used in your industry, and
  • multiple post-processing options to help you analyze the data efficiently.

Quite clearly, Rocky DEM will help you and your organization minimize prototype costs and product development times. You’ll recognize that these benefits will further accelerate product launches into the market and fetch your organization higher profitability margins.

Still curious to know all of this actually works? I’m going to speak in a webinar called Assessing and Improving the Bulk Material Handling Practices with Rocky DEM Simulations on February 15th at 2:30 PM IST. Come, join me in an hour of learning how Rocky DEM simulations can help you save and generate more revenue for your bulk handling business.

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The Decade That Was …

In the CADFEM Journal (previously Infoplaner; in German), an announcement was made in the first issue of 2007 about the commencement of India business. This March, CADFEM Engineering Services India (CADFEM India) celebrates its 10th birthday – a decade in business. The company started out as a four person team with the vision that it could help customers in India recognize and realize the benefits of simulation-driven product development. 10 years on, the company has evolved into a confident engineering business, with over 50 colleagues, that has helped hundreds of engineers to realize their product promise.

The Decade That Was …

During this time so much has changed. The world has got smaller, faster and ever more changing. Technology has both been an enabler and a challenge to small businesses and large enterprises alike. As a responsible business, the company’s constant endeavour has been to offer customers the best-in-class solutions to their engineering problems. Today CADFEM India is proud to have gained trust from several local and global companies whose engineers rely on its products, services and know-how on a daily basis.

CADFEM India is a strong channel partner to ANSYS in India by offering the full range of physics (structural, fluids and electronics) across India. This partnership is helping CADFEM increase the rate of adoption of simulation in the country. The organization is structured towards providing and supporting customers with ANSYS software. Today the company has more than 40 engineers comprising of the core technical team, sales and marketing that engage customers in multiple areas of engineering analysis. The team is highly skilled to offer training programs for novices and experienced engineers on a plethora of engineering topics. Several customers, with origins in Germany, are long standing customers of CADFEM in India. CADFEM is the preferred simulation partner for customers owing the nature of strong and high-quality support. Deepak Joseph, the Head of Development (Truck) at Knorr-Bremse Technology Center India, and his team in Pune have been recipients of CADFEM’s technical support regularly. While thanking CADFEM for offering “extended support” to his team, Deepak recently said that CADFEM ”helped us understand ways to achieve accuracy.”

Listing of milestones of CADFEM India

All tools which are critical for success

CADFEM India offers several complementary solutions such as optiSLang (of Dynardo GmbH), Rocky DEM (particle simulations) and simulation-ready hardware. Since engineering simulation requires more than just software, CADFEM India supplies all the tools which are critical for success in simulation – all from one source. As a result, customers in India not only benefit by receiving leading software and IT-solutions, but also obtain support, consultancy and transfer of know-how. The core philosophy ingrained within every colleague is to ensure that customers realize the most return of their simulation investment. Dynardo’s CEO, Dr. Johannes Will, says “Over the last 7 years, CADFEM India has become an important partner for Dynardo to serve the optiSLang business in India as well as to support the Dynardo consulting activities. I personally enjoy that relationship and look forward to intensify the joint business success over the next years.” Since 2011, CADFEM India has organized the Indian edition of the Weimar Optimization & Stochastic Days. In 2016, over 80 attendees came together to discuss the topics of optimization and robust design for sixth year in a row.

In addition to the software business, many customers consider CADFEM India as a reliable engineering consulting partner. Several customers choose to contact CADFEM to seek simulation on demand. CADFEM India’s Managing Director, Madhukar Chatiri says that “this offers a good opportunity for us to demonstrate the power of ANSYS to the customer.” Over the years, CADFEM has solved many engineering problems in automotive, aerospace, consumer appliances, rotating machinery, watches, food & beverage and many more industries. One such example of a strong customer relationship is with Traunreut-based Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH (BSH). For over two years from 2008, BSH worked intensively with two engineers from CADFEM India. As a result, there has been a strong partnership between BSH and CADFEM India. Speaking about this, Dan Neumayer, Head of Pre-Development at BSH said “we could have a mutual cultural understanding and a common way of thinking and working. This intensive learning forms a particularly important basis for our long-term cooperation and we see this as one fundamental success factor.”

Group Photo in the decade that was
Mrs. & Mr. Guenter Mueller while visiting CADFEM India in 2015
esocaet program starts in September 2017

One of the top most challenges for employers in India is the low number of engineers skilled with simulations. To bridge this demand-supply gap, CADFEM India has invested in ANSYS Authorized Training Centre that started in September 2015; over 50 engineers have graduated from this centre. Furthermore, CADFEM has partnered with PES University in Bangalore to bring the much-acclaimed esocaet Master Program in Applied Computational Mechanics to India. The esocaet program offers tremendous opportunities to engineers for continuous learning. The first course will begin in September 2017.

CADFEM India has been operationally profitable since many years – this has allowed the company to scale its investments in India consistently. The company has a long-term orientation, offers employees a lot of independence but functions as a responsible partner to customers. This allows the company to respond with agility to the dynamic needs of the market.

The company has geared up for the next decade of business in the Indian subcontinent. Having recognized the needs of the market, the company is betting big in the areas of Additive Manufacturing, Electronics and Digital Cities. CADFEM India has made another significant investment into the newest partner of CADFEM International – CADFEM SEA Pte. Ltd. in Singapore.

In 2016, the company was recognized as one of the 20 Most Promising Engineering & Design Solution Providers in India by the popular CIO Review magazine. Madhukar still fondly recalls the day when he formulated the vision for the Indian business in his mind. He adds “What a journey it has been for many of us! While waiting for our connecting flight at Mumbai airport, Guenter Mueller discussed the idea of a joint company in India. We thank our customers and partners for choosing to work with us. It has been and is our pleasure to serve the engineering market in India in the past decade.”

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Weekly Simulation Round-Up | Issue 5

Banner for Weekly Simulation Roundup

Welcome to a brand new edition of Weekly Simulation Round-Up. As usual, we present you the most interesting articles from this week. As you will notice, electronics is changing the game for product development.


Internet of Things – The Man Who Coined It

Today, Internet of Things is well-discussed as a topic that will revolutionize the way we live and design products. Kevin Ashton, the man who coined the phrase “Internet of Things,” explains what it is and why it matters in less than two minutes.

If you are further interested, do watch a longer version of his talk at 2015 Microsoft’s Future Decoded conference.


Using DEM to Improve Transfer Chute Design

Chutes are commonly adopted in conveying systems as a method of transferring bulk materials from one conveyor belt to another. A poorly designed chute or even the application of a chute out of its original design conditions (higher tonnage, different particle material, wet material, and so on) often lead to problems. This can result in  lower productivity, increased maintenance costs, higher wear rates, or even shut downs.

Rocky DEM, a state-of-the-art discrete element particle simulator, helps engineers design and/or optimize transfer chutes by simulating different scenarios, which reduces the costs of building and testing different configurations (read more).


Simulation Powering Wirelessly Charging Electric Vehicles

Qualcomm Inc, a global leader and innovator in wireless and mobile technologies, is committed to pushing the frontiers of innovation. As a validation of this statement, Qualcomm spent USD 5.5 billion on research and development in wireless and mobile technologies in 2014 alone — and USD 34 billion over the company’s life.

One team, headquartered in Munich, Germany, focuses primarily on making the incremental improvements and technology customizations. This will lead to broad adoption of the first-generation Qualcomm Halo WEVC (wireless electric vehicle charging) technology (read more).


Schiaparelli Mars Lander – What Went Wrong?

Recently the martian lander crashed on the red planet prompting the European Space Agency to summon an investigation. Mission scientists recovered data from the lander before its untimely demise. By performing simulations of Schiaparelli’s control systems using this lander data reproduced this fatal cascade of events (read more).


Turbulence – What a Drag It Is When You Drive

Turbulence is a nightmare for several air travelers. It can spill your drink, bounce you off the roof of the cabin if you haven’t fastened your seat belt—and even bring a plane down. Airline pilots are super aware of it. Turbulence refers to the swirly chaotic movement of fluid particles. While most feared and destructive in air travel, turbulence is all around us and occurs every time you drive. Here’s an article from ENGINEERING.com talks more about this phenomenon. (read more).

Image of a racing car with streamlines around it and a stress contour plot on its surface.


So, folks, that was all for this week. We will be back again with a new edition next week. Do feel free to share your feedback or questions with us.

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Weekly Simulation Round-Up | Issue 4

Banner for Weekly Simulation RoundupWelcome to this edition of Weekly Simulation Round-Up. As usual, we bring you the most interesting articles from this week.


Computational Fluid Dynamics for Patient-Specific Surgeries

In this article, a researcher of Cardiothoracic Surgery from the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center talks about simulation-driven medical surgeries. He states that “the long-term prognosis for babies born with single ventricle heart defects can depend on the location of vascular connections made during corrective surgery”. Based on the babies’ cardiovascular anatomy, the medical center researchers employ ANSYS CFD to determine the optimal personalized surgery for improving surgical effectiveness and to obtain a better quality of life for children (read more).


Simulation of “Material Other Than Grain” Separation Process

For farmers engaged in grain production, separation of stones, straw and dust from grains is a regular activity. Can simulation techniques help such farmers to reduce cost and time-to-market, and increase grain production ramp-up? The answer is yes!

Using Rocky DEM, a state-of-the-art discrete element particle simulator, along with computational fluid dynamics performed using ANSYS Workbench, the material other than grain (MOG) separation process can be simulated. There’s potential for the MOG equipment makers to redesign or improve for higher separation efficiency.


Optimus Prime, anyone? 

Antimon is a BMW 3-series car that transforms into a robot in under 30 secs. It converts from a BMW into a grand robot completed with powerful arm movements and a Transformers-like face. It took the company eight months to complete Antimon using an actual car (Watch on YouTube).


Diamonds Convert Nuclear Waste into Clean Energy

British Scientists have developed a method of turning nuclear waste into batteries using diamond. By encapsulating a short-range radioactive material in an artificial diamond, small electrical charge can be generated even after insulating harmful radiation. Researchers estimate that a carbon-based battery would generate 50% of its power in 5,730 years (read more).


Structural Design Optimization of Electrical Transformer Tanks

One of our customers, Crompton Greaves Ltd., presented their experiences with optimizing structural design of their electrical transformer tanks. To achieve this, their engineers used the state-of-the-art tool for optimization and variation analysis – optiSLang and ANSYS Mechanical. Through this exercise, they were able to obtain ~10% weight reduction and over 17% reduction in Equivalent Stress (read more).


So, folks, that was all for this week. We will be back again with a new edition next week. Do feel free to share your feedback or questions with us.

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