Key management decisions, whether they be in civil, mining or reservoir engineering are often underpinned by multi-parametric rock mechanics requirements. Simulation Aided Engineering (SAE) assists in streamlining this decision making process, by removing the assumptions and bias that are associated in many empirical and conventional methodologies. SAE highlights future issues, by using adopting a unified approach to rock mass simulations, developing a more streamlined solution.
Application of the science of rock mechanics has evolved greatly since its emergence in the 1950s. Initially, engineers would conceptualize and hypothesize the rock mass behavior using available data and experience to develop basic analytical and empirical relationships for the purpose of forecasting. The development of computers resulted in alternative methods of analysis being available. Generally, these computing methods evolved around specific disciplines. The next step in this evolution of analysis techniques is the application of multi-parametric, interdisciplinary, physics based simulations. Simulation Aided Engineering (SAE) is the concept of a computer based design simulation across multiple disciplines that results in an improved engineering and design process. This concept is already applied in many other engineering disciplines.
Improvements in the computational capacity and modelling techniques have reduced many previous limitations on the geometry, structures or complexity of the mining sequence that makes up the simulation. Simulations are now limited, most often, by the scale and resolution of input data available for the analysis.
This paper explains the SAE process where physical observations, measured properties and interpreted parameters are compiled into a simulation of the rock mass. Additionally, recent improvements and examples of its application are discussed.