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More than a training tool

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Dry Bulk,

GlobalSim is a company known for professional crane training simulators. However, recently, a different focus was required in order to provide a customer with a training solution. The customer’s operations cover a variety of bulk products. In this case, their primary concern was for the iron pellets and the stacker/reclaimer operations. Having used computerised training simulators for mining, they considered the possible benefit for the reclaiming operations.

More than a training tool

The challenge

The customer could not find an off-the-shelf solution for the stacker reclaimer, so contracted GlobalSim to resolve the challenge of creating a custom solution for stacker reclaimer operations.

The objective for the customer was to improve the productivity of their reclaimers operating in the iron pellet storage yards. The aim of the reclaimer is to move the maximum amount of material without damaging the machine. If the bucket only scoops a small amount, both time and the energy to run the machine is wasted. But if the bucket scoops too deep, the machine will bind and could possibly be damaged. The purpose of the training is to teach the operators to work the reclaimer in the most efficient manner. By using a simulator, the training can be done in the safety of an office without the expense of running the real machine. After experiencing the benefits firsthand, the customer purchased an additional simulator for another site.

The challenge for GlobalSim was that it had never done an excavator of any kind. The first generation software would treat the material like water. When scooping material out of the hold or adding material to the ship, the flat surface of the material would simply lower or raise by the equivalent volume of the clamshell. When opening the clamshell, the falling material, whether coal or grain, would look realistic but the surface would remain flat. That level of simulation was not sufficient for the customer.

Creating a simulation

For this application, the material would be in a pile and the appearance would change as the bucket wheel moved along removing the iron pellets. GlobalSim wrote special software to model the piles of material. When scooping, the bucket would carve out pieces of the pile leaving a path where the bucket had been. The software even shows the dust generated as the teeth dig into the stack. Accordingly, the simulator also simulates the spray nozzles for the dust suppression system.

By the time the project was completed, the simulator was able to duplicate the process of a real reclaimer. With the addition of an instructor station, the simulator becomes an effective training aid. The instructor can create exercises and monitor the student’s performance. At the end of each exercise, the instructor can generate a report showing the operator errors, such as collisions or low productivity. The system can even play back a video to show the students their performance.

Although the focus began on the iron pellets, the software also includes the option of working with coal, coke and iron ore.

The initial training simulator was so successful for the customer that they decided to upgrade it and include the ability to use the system for design and planning purposes. They recently contracted GlobalSim to improve the system they have been successfully using they last few years. The company has worked as a partner to allow the customer to expand on their original vision and have an even more productive tool. Now, the customer uses the simulator to evaluate the implications of changing the pile sizes and configuration. They can test the effectiveness of different reclaiming techniques before implementing them in the yard.

Abridged article by GlobalSim, published in the Summer 2018 issue of Dry Bulk.

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