Crushing Plant Dynamics
Doctoral thesis, 2015
The performance of a crushing plant is an essential element in achieving efficient production of aggregates or metals. A crushing plant´s operating performance depends on the design and configuration of each individual process unit, the configuration of the plant, the design of the control system, events occurring in the process and the physical properties of the incoming feed. The production process is a continuous process and as such it is also subjected to variations and changes in performance depending on the condition of the process. Crushing plants however, are traditionally simulated with steady-state simulation models which are not capable of predicting these conditions. A different technique is therefore necessary in order to estimate the actual behaviour of the plant with respect to time.
Crushing plants are affected by both gradual and discrete changes in the process over time which alters the performance of the entire system, making it dynamic. A dynamic simulation is defined in this thesis as continuous simulations with sets of differential equations with static equations to reproduce the dynamic performance of a system.
In this thesis multiple operational issues have been identified in order to achieve adequate process fidelity for simulation purposes. These operational issues have been addressed by introducing methods and models for representing different dynamic aspects of the process. These include: different types of bins to handle misaligned feeding, segregation and different flow behaviour, the use of system identification to measure actuator response to accurately estimate unit response, wear estimation for crushers, mechanistic models for crushers and screens for more accurate estimation of unit dynamics, segmented conveyors that can estimate material flow for conveyors with variable speed drives, parameter selection for optimum process performance, discrete events that occur within the process and different control strategies to capture the process dynamics.
Different applications for dynamic simulation have been explored and demonstrated in this thesis. These include: process evaluation, control development, process optimization, operational planning, maintenance scheduling and operator training. Each of these areas puts different constraints on the modelling of crushing plants and the level of fidelity, which is determined by the purpose of the simulation.
In conclusion, dynamic simulation of production processes has the ability to provide the user with in-depth understanding about the simulated process, details that are usually not available with static simulations. Multiple factors can affect the performance of a crushing plant, factors that need to be included in the simulation to be able to estimate the actual plant performance.