Using ‘EDEM for ANSYS’ software to understand loading of a bulldozer blade during operation

EDEM for ANSYS is a new tool we launched earlier this year which allows engineers to combine the power of EDEM’s bulk material simulation with ANSYS Mechanical Finite Element analysis.  The software has been developed for engineers working in the heavy equipment industry and is built into ANSYS Workbench to enable easy transfer of realistic bulk material loads from EDEM to ANSYS Mechanical.

In this post I would like to give an example of how EDEM for ANSYS can be used to optimize loading of a bulldozer blade during operation.

Dozer blades are used to move large quantities of materials in different environments such as coal, sand, soils and metal ores.  Operators using dozing equipment are concerned with durability of their blades and the efficiency with regards to translocating these materials.


To understand the durability of the blades it is common for engineers to use Finite Element Analysis to understand what is happening to the dozer blade during operation. In order to perform this analysis effectively it is important to understand the complex loading profile.

Typical methods to calculate loads include hand calculations or assumptions but these cannot guarantee the optimum design and performance. These methods may lead to inclusion of excessive safety margins and a risk of over-engineering. Another approach is physical prototyping, but this is expensive and often performed too late in the design cycle to allow for any significant changes .

EDEM for ANSYS provides an alternative to those methods by giving engineers the ability to include realistic material loads in their ANSYS FEA.  With EDEM for ANSYS, engineers can simulate realistic bulk material – equipment interactions and can design equipment without relying on hand calculations and prototyping.

A wide variety of material behaviors can be simulated including coal, sand, metal ores and many more.  A built-in library of over 40,000 material models – the GEMM database – is available in the tool for easy access to a representative material. Looking at our bulldozer blade example, once a material is selected in EDEM for ANSYS, the forces acting on the blade as a result of the interaction between the blade and the bed of material are calculated with high-fidelity and can then be used in ANSYS Mechanical.  This enables the study of stress, deformation and total force on the blade, which is used to assess the durability and the efficiency of the blade.

EDEM for ANSYS enables the design of the dozer to be tested while operating in different materials. This enables operational instructions to be created, allowing operators of the dozers to know how to best use the equipment to ensure the desired flow profile of the material during operation according to the material it is moving.

The flow profile of the material can then be visualized as the blade progresses through the bed to ensure that it is flowing in the desired manner. In addition, it is possible to analyze the areas where the blade reinforcement is required – to ensure the durability of the equipment.

By simulating the blade before manufacture these changes are simple and can be checked in a much more timely fashion.  It is also possible to verify the design in the exact same virtual material, which would not have been possible in real life due to changes in the material as a result of environmental changes.

The images below show the dozer blade traveling through a bed of material.  The material was selected from the GEMM Database and was searched based on the density, angle of repose and scale of the application to represent a coal-like material.  The flow profile of the material was visualized in EDEM for ANSYS to ensure it is consistent with the expected behavior (material cascading over itself as the blade moves through the bed). The resulting loading profile was then used as part of an ANSYS Mechanical structural analysis to understand the durability and structural integrity of the dozer.

To find out more about EDEM for ANSYS and its applications, watch our webinar.
To learn how to use EDEM for ANSYS take our free eLearning course.

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