Quantifying the Benefits of Intended Upgrades to an Iron Ore Supply Chain
The Customer

The customer operates a vertically integrated supply chain for their iron ore operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The supply chain includes a transhipment operation where vessels are loaded at the port and then transfer their loads onto ships waiting offshore in deeper waters.

The Challenges

At current production levels, the customer was having stockpile capacity issues due partly to the misalignment of product flowing in and out of the stockyard, shipping delays, and weather patterns. When the stockyard's stockpiles reach capacity, upstream operations must stop resulting in lost production and revenue.

The customer was considering improvements to their supply chain to increase product delivery reliability. However, before investing in the acquisition of more vessels or CAPEX upgrades to their conveyors and other equipment, they wanted to understand how the specific upgrades would impact their operations.

The Solution

The customer engaged Polymathian’s simulation experts to deliver a feasibility study to provide quantifiable, data-driven answers and recommendations on their expansion options.

Using the latest simulation techniques and technology, Polymathian modified the customer’s existing model, expanding both the scope and the level of detail. Before testing the proposed upgrades, the enhanced model was revalidated using historical data to replicate current stockyard inflow fluctuations.

Polymathian designed scenarios to answer specific questions, processed the outputs, then presented the insights to the customer. Insights evolved with more test cases and further analyses, which eventually were used in the customer’s feasibility study.

The project took less than 30 days to complete.

Decision Support

The simulation model helped to answer business critical questions such as:

  • Will this additional infrastructure increase capacity?
  • Will the increase in capacity justify the capital spend on the infrastructure?
  • Will the additional infrastructure reduce the potential risk of full stockpile events?
  • Will we reap more benefits from acquiring more barges or a second transhipment vessel?
  • How will upgrades to stackers and reclaimers affect in-loading and out-loading rates?
  • How can we order stacked and reclined product to get the most use out of our stockyard capacity?

Learn how simulation models can provide ROI insights into CAPEX investments before they're made.