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2/1/2018 Unwedge Article

Who Says You Can't Be Smart AND Beautiful?


From its initial release in the early nineties, Unwedge has been used by hundreds of engineers
world-wide, on a variety of projects. It remains one of Rocscience’s best selling programs. Now,
Unwedge 3.0 builds upon the simple data entry and visualization capabilities of the old version -
it’s analytically more sophisticated and easier to use. Unwedge 3.0 solves difficult wedge stability
problems using a combination of block theory and stress analysis, and provides quick answers
for engineers with no time to spare. With its leading edge science and major interface
enhancements, a typical wedge analysis can now be performed with Unwedge 3.0 in less than
30 minutes.

Recently, we sat down with Brent Corkum and Warren Stevens from the Unwedge 3.0
development team, and asked them to explain how Unwedge 3.0 will make life easier for
geotechnical engineers.

RocNews: So gentlemen, what exactly are the top improvements in Unwedge 3.0?

Brent: That’s a tough one, because we’ve added a lot - improvements to both its analytical
capabilities and its look and feel. But the new Windows based interface is up there – it’s really
going to simplify both the analysis and design procedure. We’ve also focused on improving the
design capabilities of the software. We’ve added better support models for bolts and shotcrete,
the ability to optimize tunnel orientation and to look at different combinations of joints sets forming
tetrahedrons from more than three joint sets. Plus, Unwedge 3.0 uses a completely new analysis
engine based on Goodman and Shi's block theory, and includes the ability to analyze induced
stress around the excavation and the effect on stability. There are new strength models such as
Barton-Bandis and the Power Curve, and improvements to the way users can scale and size
wedges.

Warren: The new interface is definitely going to be the first thing users notice: we’ve got
clipboard support and nicer graphics this time around. Editing support is also much easier; for
example, joint combinations can be easily changed using a spin control. For the case of multiple
joints, every possible combination can be analyzed very quickly using the new Combination
Analyzer. There’s a new Integrated Stress Analysis feature, and the Tunnel Axis Plot shows how
results change as tunnel orientation changes.

Combination Analyzer dialog

RocNews: What kind of projects will particularly benefit from these enhancements?

Warren: Unwedge 3.0 is particularly useful in projects where stress is thought to influence wedge
stability, or where you need to analyze a lot of tunnel orientations. An example would be a
curving tunnel or spiral ramp. Unwedge 3.0 is also helpful in finding the worst case for any tunnel
orientation, any combination of multiple joints, or where tunnel orientation can be changed in
order to minimize support costs. Another major improvement is in report generation; now users
can create better-looking reports in less time.

Brent: Projects that will most benefit from this version include those with wedges formed around
drifts and shafts in underground mining, projects where wedges have formed around

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transportation tunnels, and projects where wedges have formed around underground power or
pumping stations.

Stress Analysis Option - normal stress contours on wedge planes

RocNews: Which Unwedge 3.0 interface enhancements will be most helpful to users on a
daily basis?

Brent: The ability to easily input and analyze both the wedge geometry and the tunnel support
system - that's a big one. We've made good use of OpenGL in this version - I think users will
appreciate the new graphics that use shading and transparency to visualize both the wedges and
tunnel. In general, user interaction is much more interactive, and therefore, a lot simpler to use.
Things like the ability to drag wedges along their respective failure direction. Using Tooltips and
the Wedge Information pane, users can easily extract just about any analysis information, such
as areas, volumes, safety factors or failure modes that they want. Support systems can be easily
designed using interactive placement of the support; for example, property definition is based on
available bolt and shotcrete systems, making it easy for customers to choose their support
system.

Warren: I think Clipboard Support is going to prove very helpful - you can generate screen
captures for reports very easily, as opposed to the more time consuming method in the older
DOS version. For me, that would reason enough to upgrade - it looks nicer and saves a lot of
time. That, and the ability to change joint combinations using a spin control - another huge
timesaver.

Interactive Wedge Movement and Data Tips

RocNews: You indicated that there are a significant number of analytical improvements.
Which ones will be most helpful to the typical user?

Brent: I'm glad you used the word "typical", because that's what I want to stress to readers. All of
these improvements, interface or analytical, have been created based on feedback we've gotten
from working engineers. We're constantly asking them, and ourselves, "We think this is a great
feature, but will it get used?" The new analysis techniques we've added to version 3 don't just
widen the scope of the program, they improve the accuracy of the results. Using Goodman and
Shi's block theory, the computation of the perimeter wedges is quicker and more accurate. Plus,
an entirely new calculation algorithm was developed for finding and determining the size of
possible end wedges. We've also added new bolt models, including cable bolts, grouted dowels
with variable grout length, swellex and split-set, and users can now simulate multiple layers of
shotcrete with different properties. All these features will greatly improve the accuracy of analysis
results.

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Interactive placement of bolt patterns

Warren: (laughs) Gee Brent, I forgot how much we actually put in there. I think that the most
significant, previously unavailable feature is Integrated Stress Analysis. Many of Unwedge 3.0's
improvements are "time-savers"; they're interface enhancements that make the program more
intuitive and easier to use. But new analytical tools like Integrated Stress Analysis are not only
easy to use, they also give users the ability to do more complex, more useful analyses on the
effect of stresses around an excavation.

Brent: Actually, I forgot to mention pseudo-static seismic modeling; that's in there too. A two-
dimensional complete plane strain boundary element model has been added to the program to
determine stress effects on the stability of the wedges. Scaling of wedges now accurately reflects
the values you define for trace length and persistence. Unlike Unwedge 2.3, which used the trace
length values you defined as approximate measures, Unwedge 3.0 accurately accounts for trace
lengths. The program will also try to determine the maximum volume wedge with the trace
lengths you define.

Bolt Properties dialog

RocNews: Sounds like you were kept pretty busy on this version. As developers, what
was your biggest challenge with Unwedge 3.0?

Warren: Well, right off the bat we knew we were moving away from 2.3's DOS interface, so
deciding on the graphical user interface components of the program was time consuming. It's
always a challenge to organize your features and make them intuitive to users - stuff like the
screen layout, the view management, the toolbar switching and the sidebar. I'm proud of the
result - I think it looks good. Also, like Brent mentioned earlier, we learned some new tricks and
used them to make the interface richer looking.

Brent: The whole thing was a challenge, especially since we wanted to release the software this
year, and we'd already spent a good part of it working on the newest version of Slide. But in the
end, we completely redesigned Unwedge - from both an analysis and interface perspective. It
had to be completely rewritten and the user-interface had to be completely redesigned. And,
despite how busy we were, we also added functionality based on some customer requests. They
were good ideas, so we felt it was important to incorporate them into the new release.

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Required Support Pressure versus Tunnel Axis Orientation

RocNews: Speaking of our users, any final advice to Unwedge 3.0 users on how they can
get the most out of this version?

Warren: For beginning users, keep your initial analysis simple and build up the complexity
gradually. I encourage this modeling methodology so that you properly understand the different
mechanisms of the analysis, such as support and stress effects. For more advanced users,
remember to use the Combination Analyzer and the Tunnel Axis Plot - the analysis of multiple
orientations used to be manual, now it's automated. This will save you a lot of time. And take
advantage of the new Integrated Stress Analysis module.

Brent: My advice for newer users is to use the toolbar buttons to switch to the different views,
and take note of the view-dependent controls that appear in the side bar. For most tasks in this
program, you'll benefit by starting this way. For more experienced users, I think they'll find that
with the easier to use interface and the new functionality, you'll be able to solve a broader range
of problems, in less time. Come to think of it, I think all users will appreciate that - after all, time is
money.

RocNews: I think that’s a good final thought to end on guys. Brent, Warren – thanks for
your information and insight on Unwedge 3.0.

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