How to optimise Transfer Chutes design with the Discrete Element Method (DEM).

Transfer chutes are present in many mining operations, some with hundreds of transfer chutes per plant. There are many configurations and sizes of transfer chute however the main purpose is to transfer material from belt to belt or from belt to bin or processing plant.

EDEM Simulation Files used in this example can be downloaded here:

For long term operation of a chute it is important to minimise the common problems:

Altair® EDEMTM helps keep the systems reliable, avoiding unscheduled maintenance.

The key steps to setup a transfer chute simulation are:

Step 1 – Materials

Materials should be calibrated or use existing material models:

Step 2 – CAD

EDEM supports many file types such as STL, STEP, IGES.  Geometries are imported to EDEM via the Creator > Geometries > Import Geometry section.  You can choose either the default mesh which is optimised to capture the geometry shape while minimising the mesh elements, or choose a manual mesh size.  You may want to manually select the mesh if your analysis includes wear as the wear is plotted per triangular mesh element.


Step 3 – Introduce Material

Align factory with conveyor and assign same velocity vector as conveyor motion.  You can set an appropriate mass flow rate or even use a time based equation to vary the flow.


Step 4 – Assign Kinematics

You can assign different types of motion to the geometries as shown here.  The feed conveyor has a Conveyor Motion kinematic applied which replicates the motion of a moving conveyor belt while keeping the CAD stationary.  The head pully has a rotation assigned which rotates the pulley geometry around the specified axis.

More complex motions such as sinusoidal or force control is also available.


These steps are outlined in our EDEM Tutorials:

See here how EPCM service provider Wood boosted mine chute design for IAMGOLD.

See how EPCM Hatch deployed EDEM BulkSim to explore what-if scenarios for a coal and filter cake transfer:

Altair EDEM or EDEM BulkSim provides analysis allowing designers to optimise for: