This paper deals with elementary geotechnical tests: triaxial and direct shear of cohesionless sand using the discrete element method (DEM). The capabilities of the numerical DEM code are shown, with a special focus on the early phenomena appearance in localization zones. The numerical tests were performed in 3D conditions with spherical grains. Contact moments law was introduced due to simulate not perfectly round sand grains. The influence of different physical parameters was studied, e.g. initial density or confining pressure. The sieve curve corresponded to the Karlsruhe sand ; however, in some tests, it was linearly scaled. Special attention was laid on the behaviour of the sand grains inside localization, e.g. rotation, porosity, fluctuations, etc. and forces redistribution. Emphasis was given on the pre-failure regime and early localization predictors.