With input from its syndicate development partners front and centre in its new conceptual design software, Bentley says its new offering, MineCycle Material Handling, ticks all the boxes for the bulk handling community. Charles Macdonald reports.
MineCycle Material Handling is a purpose-built bulk material handling (BMH) conceptual design application that lets EPCs and consultants accelerate the preliminary design of BMH facilities. Through its accelerated layout and scenario management, MineCycle Material Handling enables consideration of multiple designs to optimize for cost, footprint, and other owner-operator objectives.
The MineCycle Material Handling Application, along with its stablemates ‑ Designer and Survey ‑ were the first software applications to be created by Bentley through a syndicated development.
This process gave three mainstays of the bulk handling community – Hatch, GHD and PDC – direct input into MineCycle Material Handling’s creation, definition and design. Along with expert industry insights, the syndicated design process removed some of the risk of such a major new release for Bentley.
“This application was developed by those in the bulk material handling industry specifically for those in the bulk material handling industry,” said Simon Smith, an application engineer at Bentley Systems in Brisbane.
According to Dave Body, Bentley’s solution executive for mining, the concept of syndicated driven development was developed by Bentley in 2011, at the height of the mining boom, as a way to fast track and better focus software development.
Work started on MineCycle Material Handling in 2012, with a two year development cycle. Each four to six weeks syndicate partners would engage in a collaborative review, with Bentley, of progress as different iterations of the software arrived. Later, syndicate partners used their “early adopter access” to report back to Bentley on their experiences with the software, prior to its official release in October 2014.
A world of headaches for EPC firms
Staff at engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firms building facilities in mining, mineral processing and related bulk handling fields such as cement, terminals and agriculture have long complained about unproductive design processes.
Often, when traditional 3D design applications are used for conceptual design layouts for the feasibility phases of a project and when preparing competitive bids, the processes and methods are problematic.
“Preparing 3D models saw designers searching the databases of past projects for equipment and layout models to be best utilised to suit the needs for the bid being prepared,” explained Smith. “These 3D models were in most cases over-detailed, which meant stripping away the ‘detail’ so that they are presented in a less cluttered conceptual form. This process not only took time, but what was left was a model that was simply graphics and contained no intelligence, with further challenges and difficulties experienced when modifications to the design were proposed.”
Syndicate partners identified requirements
The initial ask from the syndicate members to the software developers was to provide a design application to address the unique needs of the material handling discipline. This meant from concept through to handover, including the design layouts and equipment of all facilities from pit to port.
“They required an application that is simple to use; utilises parametric capabilities; creates integrated civil, structural, and mechanical models; contains and retains intelligence such as material data, conveyor belt type and belt speed; and displays the material trajectory profile,” said Smith. “It also had to interact with third-party analytical tools, such as Sidewinder; interoperate with all other Bentley applications; and in addition, as it is a design application, maintain the ability to create deliverables such as 2D drawings, bills of materials and intelligent information models (i-models) for presentation and reviewing purposes on desktop and mobile devices.”
Syndicate partners well pleased
Feedback from one of Bentley’s partners, Hatch, has been very positive.
Hendrik Visser, global technical coordinator, bulk material handling, Hatch South Africa said that:
“In the past we predominantly worked in the 2D environment because timing was one of the major drivers, and as such we had limited time to develop options. MineCycle Material Handling will provide the capability to develop a number of options for us in either the same or less time, but the major difference being in greater detail than what we were able to do in the past. MineCycle Material Handling talks specifically to the concept and pre-feasibility requirements that we need to address.”
Closer to home, Milton Carruthers, principal mechanical engineer at Hatch Australia said:
“MineCycle Material Handling is a step advance in the 3D engineering and designer tool kit. Importantly, it addresses the design interface areas where so many projects have issues. FEL 1 and 2 designs and layouts can now be modelled in 3D space, basically from the ground to top of structure; it effectively links civil, mechanical and structural modelling components, so that the risk of interface errors is minimised. This tool provides a good platform for cost effective 3D layouts for FEL 1, 2 studies.”
Along with its Materials Handling application, Bentley also released its MineCycle Designer and Survey applications which work together to accelerate mine planning and mine survey iterations.