Discussion - New simulator for designing belt system capacities in underground coal mines - by S.D. Thompson and L. Adler Technical Papers, MINING ENGINEERING, Vol. 40, No. 4 April 1988, pp. 271 -274

Sturgul, J. R.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
Thompson and Adler (1988) present a new simulator for use in designing conveyor belt systems for underground mines. Their model uses a large Fortran program to do a Monte Carlo simulation. Their approach is similar to that done by other researchers, such as Stanford (1965) and Newhart (1977). All Fortran based simulation models use an imaginary clock that is advanced a time increment. At each advance of time increment the program has to determine what is to take place in the system. Since many things can take place at different places in the system, this approach requires that a large amount of logic is needed at each step of the program. This, then, necessitates a great amount of jumping between different portions of the program. In fact, the Fortran program, CMBCS, takes up to 15 to 20 minutes to run on the mainframe and several hours for the PC. Such execution times are typical of Fortran based simulation studies. There have been other examples of Fortran based simulation studies in mining. Cross and Williamson (1969) presented a model of a working open-pit copper mine. Fosinato (1982) presented a model of the bucketwheel excavators for the large open-pit mines in Southern Victoria in Australia. These excavators discharge into a complex conveyor system, which can be thought of as being similar, but more complicated than the one modeled by CMBCS. All previous simulation studies using Fortran as the source code have several things in common: they all are very lengthy, often being of the order of 10,000 lines of code and take a great deal of CPU time to execute. The program of Fosinato takes more than 4.5 hours to run on a large mainframe. Also not mentioned by Thompson and Adler is the actual time it took to write the Fortran code. This, too, can be considerable, as Fosinato's program took several man years to write and de-bug. In order to change it, as the parameters change or as the mine increases, further large amount of time is needed. An alternate to such Fortran based programs is provided by using a special computer language known as General Purpose Simulation System (GPSS). This language is designed to solve a wide variety of discrete event simulation problems and appears to be particularly suited for mining situations as shown by Sturgul and Yi (1 987). Although GPSS was introduced as far back as 1961, it has not been used in mining to any great extent. However, the original form was quite crude and inefficient compared to modem versions. Perhaps with the increasing popularity and availability of these recent versions, this will change. Two such versions are GPSS/H for the mainframe and GPSS/PC for the personal computer. GPSS/H allows for interactive usage, such as allowing input data to be entered via a menu. GPSS/PC has excellent graphical capabilities and one can actually view the simulation in progress. In addition, one can halt the simulation and change values of various parameters. If a particular portion of the simulation is in progress via a concept known as "microwindows." These new versions have greatly increased the potential for using the language for mining situations. Mining applications of GPSS have been given by Sturgul and Yi (1987), Sturgul and Harrison (1987), Sturgul (1987), and Sturgul and Singhal (1988). Schriber (1987) presents a summary of the recent advances in GPSS.
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