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Simulation saves prototypes production of a mixing screw for Eichholz Silo

Bulk material simulation saves the production of costly prototypes for a mixing screw

Getting information about bulk loads in silos can be a challenging task for design engineers.The specific properties of the bulk materials must be taken into account, and engineers often must ensure proper homogenization and distribution within the silo. Today, many companies are requesting larger and larger silos, and traditional design methods are nearing their limits to size up accurately.

Eichholz Silo- und Anlagenbau GmbH, a family-owned manufacturer of aluminum and stainless steel products, turned to DEM simulations to size-up a mixing screw for a silo used in plastics recycling. CADFEM helped the company apply Rocky DEM coupled with Ansys Mechanical to provide key insights into the design processes, so that smooth operations could be designed via simulation before costly prototypes are built. 

“With simulation, we were able to develop an understanding of how the loads are distributed inside the silo and thus save time and money on costly test structures. This has greatly accelerated the project and created certainty for us and our customers.”

Martin Westermann

Technical Sales, Eichholz Silo- und, Anlagenbau GmbH

Eichholz Silo- und Anlagenbau GmbH needed to size-up a mixing screw for a silo used in plastics recycling. The design needed to minimize deflection and prevent damage to the drive shaft. Because the screw is centered, the silo inlet needed to be eccentric, which created uneven loads for the screw conveyor, especially during the filling process. The mixing screw and the conveyor were particularly long, there were no standardized load assumptions, and an air gap of 20 mm between the screw and the pipe must be maintained so that the screw does not rub against the pipe.

DEM simulation was chosen to provide the necessary answers to the design. The dynamic interactions between the bulk material and the components were studied via Rocky DEM, and component mechanical loading was calculated via Ansys Mechanical. The load and deflection of the pipe could be identified and compared for different design variants and load cases. The silo filing process was simulated with a maximum of 1.3 million particles.

Rocky DEM accurately represented the silo process and provided key insights to design engineers. By using a coupled simulation with Rocky and Ansys Mechanical instead of building an expensive prototype, Eichholz saved time, effort, and money. The trial-and-error process of prototyping would have delayed the project, but Eichholz was able to put the silos into operation for their customer more quickly and efficiently.

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You will be inspired to implement Rocky DEM in your business and will soon also become a success story.

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