EPC-UK takes pride in performing through a customer focussed approach that has been galvanised through the influence of our working SPIRIT values of Safety, Passion, Integrity, Respect, Innovation and Teamwork.  This SPIRIT ethos helps us to add value to our services, technological expertise and product manufacturing. At our Rough Close Works facility in Derbyshire this commitment is both evident and operational across a portfolio of explosive manufacturing processes, each led by Operations Manager, Adam Williams. 

A modern facility

The ‘state of the art’ bulk emulsion manufacturing facility and laboratory has benefitted from significant investment in recent years, enabling EPC-UK to provide a high-quality emulsion matrix for supply to the UK market. The safety focused facility is also the main hub for EPC-UK’s Euronel 2 non-electric detonator assembly process, a service where bespoke detonator delays are assembled to meet specific customer requirements.

EPC-UK’s highly experienced technical department is also based at Rough Close Works, along with a fleet of Multiblend trucks, providing one of the UK’s most extensive systems for delivering explosives directly into bore holes within quarry environments and other mining activities.

Additionally, Rough Close Works’ extensive explosive magazine storage capacity allows for the safe, commercial storage of Class 1 explosives; its central location and convenient motorway links make it an effective distribution hub for EPC-UK’s packaged explosives, ANFO, detonators and blasting accessories. 

Successful leadership. Team mentality

The multitude of operations and emphasis on safety prioritisation at Rough Close Works makes Adam’s effective and passionate leadership imperative. His style and professional background equip him to both inspire and empower individuals so they can realise their full potential to collectively achieve common goals. 

“The EPC-UK ‘One Team’ vision has been instrumental in defining my managerial approach,” Adam says, “drawing on a commercially focussed attitude and a desire to instil a ‘right first time’ mentality across the team. This helps us to collaboratively ensure that we operate vigilant, lean production facilities and have the capability to safely deliver high-quality products and to provide a standard of service that exceeds our customers expectations.” 

Adam’s leadership expertise has been developed through previous experience gained in the oil and gas industries. His role at Rough Close Works has lent itself well to receiving those transferable management skills, together with the onward customer benefits they afford.

Adam’s professional profile and overview:

  • A degree in Business & Operations Management
  • Operations Business Analyst – British Gas (3 years)
  • Operations Manager at a Lower Tier COMAH Oil facility based at the Fawley Oil Refinery (4 years)
  • Operations & Business Development Manager for Australia’s leading aeromedical rescue service (6 years)
  • Operations Manager at a UK based, Top-Tier COMAH gas facility (6 years).

At British Gas, Adam primarily investigated data trends with a focus on identifying market opportunities and efficiencies, whilst at the Fawley Oil Refinery he successfully tackled the various operational challenges the industry presented, leading him to pursue his onward career in Operations. 

When he returned to the UK from Australia, he was again recruited by his previous employer and undertook the role of Operations Manager at its Top-Tier COMAH gas facility. The most senior position at the operation, the post saw Adam oversee all Facilities Management processes, bulk LPG operations, LPG cylinder manufacturing and filling operations, site safety, production and distribution. 

With a wealth of experience in his repertoire Adam was recruited by and joined EPC-UK as Rough Close Works’ Operations Manager in January 2021.

Customer focussed expertise

Adam’s oil and gas sector experience has taught him the importance of being commercially focussed, which benefits our EPC-UK operation and consequently adds greater value for customers, whilst instilling a right first-time mentality to the whole team. 

“By ensuring that we consistently put the customer at the centre of everything we do at Rough Close Works, we can better consider how from a production standpoint, we can always meet or exceed their expectations. As a team we are respectful, rigorous and never compromise on quality of production, safety or our exemplary service levels. As such, the explosive manufacturing knowledge harnessed at Rough Close Works is second-to-none, providing us with the expertise to successfully innovate and test new products and raw materials that ensure security of supply for our customers.”

A wealth of experience

Throughout his career, Adam has project managed the construction and fitout of several manufacturing facilities and has applied his engineering knowledge to identify potential opportunities for improvements in process safety. His drive to deliver extends to casting a critical eye over existing processes, maintenance regimes and critical operational infrastructure.

He has also gained significant experience in managing process safety and legal compliance, with particular focus on the Control of Major Accidents & Hazards (COMAH). This knowledge has proved invaluable in relation to his role at EPC-UK and has enabled him to successfully produce Rough Close Works’ COMAH site safety report, as he further establishes a culture of ‘safety first’ at the facility.

“My experience in fostering and respecting strong relationships with the local authorities, emergency services, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Environmental Agency (EA) and the general public has proved very useful in prioritising safety,” he continues. “Without doubt, the influence of EPC-UK’s SPIRIT values of Safety, Passion, Integrity, Respect, Innovation and Teamwork has played a key part in the development of my role and the facility’s team.” 

Global factors 

Adam goes on to explain that, as with an increasing number of industries, his operation is facing the challenges presented by the international events and market occurrences currently taking place. 

Raw material availability, geopolitical matters including the situation in Ukraine and supply chain regulation changes resulting from BREXIT, each have affected Rough Close Works’ capabilities. 

However, his team has proven resilient, and his supportive leadership has encouraged employees to go ‘above and beyond’ to maintain operational momentum, despite evolving adversities. 

“I can confidently say that all the external factors that have arisen over the last 2 years have presented challenges previously unseen at Rough Close Works. Firstly, Brexit brought new measures regarding the importation and exportation of goods. Then HGV driver shortages lengthened the supply chain for all suppliers. This situation was quickly followed by the Texas Freeze, an event where chemical plants were closed and not fully reopened for months, which in turn led to a global impact on the supply of key raw materials. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it a unique set of challenges regarding how Rough Close Works could continue to be productive, whilst ensuring the safety of all its employees and partners. Now the war between Russia and Ukraine, together with the soaring cost of wholesale gas, have negatively impacted upon many raw material producers, specifically regarding availability of Ammonium Nitrate, a key raw material in explosive manufacture.”

Actions taken

“Whilst the list of issues makes for onerous reading, none of the unexpected events have put a halt to our operations, or our steadfast commitment to serving customers to our very best abilities,” Adam says. He goes on to explain some of the actions his team has effectively taken to counterweight events:

Raw materials

To address raw material shortages and to insulate customers from production issues, Rough Close Works quickly transitioned from a Just in Time (JIT) for Ammonium Nitrate bulk delivery production process, to a blended onsite storage model. This was achieved by increasing the facility’s ability to safely store Ammonium Nitrate, sourcing additional forklifts and storage pallets, and training more forklift operators to assist with raw material movements, together enabling us to shield customers from future supply shortages.

Adjusting to Brexit

Closer integration with suppliers and key stakeholders, developing key relationships, improving communications, and leveraging vital relationships have been critical to enabling our continued drive to achieve customer expectations.

Supply continuity 

Carrying out research & development at our onsite laboratory to trial substitutional raw materials, before conducting robust field trials under our management of change procedures, has again been instrumental in providing resilience of supply for customers.

Covid-19 care

Respectful maintenance of robust covid protocols continue to ensure the safety of our employees and protect our ability to sustain production.

No one can say with certainty how the following months will unfold globally, or what effects future events will present. What I can comment on though with assurance is that the ‘One Team’ vision demonstrated by employees at Rough Close Works has been key to the facility’s continued success.  As a mature business, we will go on working with integrity as we strengthen our operation’s continuity plans, to ensure that we will always be able to provide the excellent standard of service our customers have come to expect. Living in the reality that we are all in this together has without doubt fostered a can-do attitude within our facility, together with a belief that whatever challenges may yet unfold, we will meet them as one united, passionate team.”