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Cristalino Copper Mine in Canaa dos Carajas, Brazil, by SEI Engenharia

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Article source: Bentley Systems, Incorporated

When Vale, the world’s second largest mining company, planned a $2.6 billion copper plant in northern Brazil, it contracted SEI Engenharia, a design and construction firm based in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, to perform front-end loading (FEL) and deliver detailed 3D models. The new mine, which is expected to have a life of 24 years, will produce 16 million tons per annum of run-of-mine with an average annual production of 340,000 tons of copper concentrate. Once in production, it will help address the deficit of copper production in the Brazilian domestic market.

Image Courtesy SEI Engenharia

Image Courtesy SEI Engenharia

One of the challenges of this project was to prepare the basic engineering (i.e., the FEL 3) as 3D models. Vale wanted to use the 3D models to advance the study of key concepts prior to their integration into the detailed design plan, as well as give plant operations staff the opportunity to provide early input during the detailed design phase. At the same time, the models would accelerate project execution by shortening design review sessions and approval processes.

Image Courtesy SEI Engenharia

“From the beginning of the project we also needed to work with plant operations information to improve planning, including the use of schedule simulation in Bentley Navigator, to plan and save resources,” explained Rafael de Santiago Silva, CAD manager at SEI Engenharia.

As a long-term user of Bentley software, SEI Engenharia engaged Bentley Institute to train a multidisciplinary design team of engineers to use MicroStation, Bentley Architecture, Structural Modeler, InRoads, and Bentley Navigator to model infrastructure, concrete structures, steel structures, substations, and industrial installations in 3D.

Image Courtesy SEI Engenharia

Using these tools, SEI Engenharia’s design team developed several simulated 3D plant layouts, including options showing different internal and external access roads; these layouts helped Vale identify the optimal plant layout design that required the least enterprise investment; for example, they could quickly compare the environment, cost, and construction times associated with various plans. The result was the production of an initial mine layout followed by a master plan – mapped out in 3D–complete with a timetable for execution.

 Streamlining Collaboration and Review Cycles

 Using Bentley Architecture, Structural Modeler, and MicroStation, SEI Engenharia developed 3D models quickly and efficiently and published them via i-models. These i-models, which are containers for exchanging precision 2D and 3D engineering information, gave Vale direct access to the underlying design data down to individual component details with complete accuracy. Vale had two ways to view i-models using Bentley Navigator or downloading them through FTP into Bentley View for deeper analysis.

Image Courtesy SEI Engenharia

“Replacing the usual design drawings with i-models as the project ‘deliverables’ was a breakthrough in the relationship with the client. For example, everyone could analyze designs to any level of detail and send and receive comments electronically.” i-models also accelerated client review cycles. “The design review sessions grew shorter since everyone had made comments directly in the i-model. This accelerated the approval of the project,” said Santiago Silva. Because safety and operational engineers could review the 3D models during audit review meetings, the final design was also safer; for example, using Bentley Navigator, they could review these models in detail, redline them, and check for inconsistencies throughout the design process.

Image Courtesy SEI Engenharia

 Bentley software enabled SEI Engenharia to develop detailed 3D models and facilitate a streamlined collaboration process, ensuring that Vale ended up with an optimal, detailed, and safer plant design–on time and within budget. The integrated workflow enabled by the software also saved SEI Engenharia approximately 5,100 man-hours and reduced FEL costs for the customer by US$400,000. And by using i-models as their main deliverable type, they completed the project with 80 percent fewer large-scale drawings created using plotters–a real cost saver.

In addition to significantly shortening the time spent on design engineering, using Bentley software and i-models increased the quality and accuracy of designs. And because the team had a single, integrated model providing 3D visualization of the entire project, SEI Engenharia was able to reduce construction time, save on labor and rework costs, and minimize the need to create costly printed documentation. Most importantly, the increased accuracy and improved review cycle meant time and cost savings were achieved while increasing construction and plant operational safety.

Image Courtesy SEI Engenharia

 Developed by Bentley, i-models (containers for open infrastructure information exchange), enable the precision sharing of engineering data without loss of accuracy. Bentley i-models are information rich, including 2D and 3D geometry, from lines and arcs to surfaces, solids, and meshes. i-models also contain business properties and data, provenance(knowledge of its origin and evolution–essentially its i-model change history), the state of the information when the i-model was published, and the purpose for which it was created. Lastly, Bentley i-models store information reliably, using digital rights management to secure access and reuse permissions, and digital signatures to validate and verify an i-model’s status.

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