Load & Haul

Computer simulation minimises collisions

SiteSim is simulation software designed by Integrated Management Information Systems (IMIS) to model real world behaviour and the company has recently designed a quarry specific model in close collaboration with Readymix Quarries.

It allows the operator to analyse, understand and predict the outcomes of possible operational changes that they may have in planning.

Although specifically designed for the quarrying and extractive industry, the SiteSim platform can be adapted for use in transportation, production and manufacturing environments. Its core ability is to reproduce the outcomes of the real world without bias, to better understand how and why particular outcomes occur.

Its operational strength is its ability to provide objective and accurate measures of efficiency and likely outcomes for alternative scenarios to current processes. A good example of this would be to model the effect of adding a second weighbridge, or a new high capacity loader at the quarry.

The basis of each site specific SiteSim[Q] is a network off roads, intersections and nodes which govern the flow of traffic (i.e. all quarry vehicles) within the quarry site. Figure 1 shows an aerial photograph of a quarry with an overlay of nodes and links, each identified in order to assign their individual operational and safety characteristics. It is the parameters assigned to each of these characteristics which constrain traffic activity and which enable the simulation to accurately reflect real world behaviour.

Quarry simulation is the simulation of vehicle and material flow around a quarry site. A quarry simulation serves four important and distinctly different purposes.

1. To identify current and future safety risk hot spots.
This would be undertaken where the likelihood of vehicle collision is high due to many vehicles in close proximity.

Before expending valuable time and financial resources, SiteSim[Q] can be used to determine the most efficient and cost effective changes in operational procedures to minimise risk to employees, equipment and lost production time. The operator can compare the likely change in location and level of risk associated with numerous operational scenarios, for example introducing overhead bin loading.

Partnering with accredited road safety auditors, IMIS can provide expertise in interpreting the risk indicated by SiteSim[Q] and providing advice in changing operational procedures to minimise that risk.

2. To confirm the likely return from capital expenditure.
Management can simulate any proposed changes designed to improve either operational or safety performance and compare those with the base case before proceeding.

Once the current operational environment has been validated, it is possible to model the addition or relocation of equipment/infrastructure (for example loaders, weighbridges, hoppers, roads, stockpiles), to determine the overall effect on quarry efficiency or throughput.

This makes SiteSim[Q] an invaluable aid for supporting operational changes, particularly when multiple scenarios are to be considered. Decisions can be made with a high degree of confidence in final outcomes.

3. To optimise the quarry’s operations.

Although SiteSim [Q] will not automatically optimise a quarry’s operations, it will enable the operator to test different scenarios to objectively determine those that lead to the best operational performance for example throughput, cycle times.

For example, users can model changed stockpile locations to see the effect on tipper cycle time; change vehicle routes, locations of stop and give-way signs etc, to see the effect on safety; determine how cycle times or congestion is effected by increases in vehicle numbers; and many other scenarios.

4. To aid short-, medium- and long-term planning.
The user is able to determine the impact on Key Performance Indicators (for example, safety risk, vehicle cycle times, congestion and queuing), of extra ordinary scenarios such as supplying a large road infrastructure project. To enable confidence in the outputs of SiteSim[Q], site-specific data is required. The data includes: road locations and characteristics, stockpile locations, vehicle characteristics, vehicle arrival rates and distributions, loading and unloading times, vehicle routes and travel zones.

SiteSim[Q] is designed to simulate quarry traffic movements with the objective of identifying safety hot spots, better understanding traffic and quarry operations, and allowing alternative scenario testing before implementation to make quarry operations more safe, efficient and economic.

IMIS staff have expertise in collecting site-specific quarry data and setting up these types of quarry simulation models. Once the model has been established and validated for a particular site, it can be used by both IMIS and quarry staff to undertake analysis of current and alternative operating environments.

Each quarry operation is different and so SiteSim[Q] can be tailored to meet individual site specific challenges.

Peter McKelvie is IMIS Supply Chain and Business Manager.

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