Creating a completely digital quarry is fast becoming a reality and here at EPC-UK we are continuing our investment into the research and implementation of drilling and blasting techniques to help pave the way. Our latest innovation, Expertir, is playing a pivotal role in the development of this next generation technology.
Expertir – The integrated approach to blast design
Expertir is a highly advanced drilling and blasting software package that has been developed in-house by EPC-UK experts to meet the needs of our rock-on-ground customers. The unique software application provides a seamless, coherent, integrated approach to blast design, combining both surveying and blast design creation.
Better understanding of the blast
The software combines multiple streams of data, achieved using a range of technologies including GPS, hole probing, laser scanning and drone photogrammetry, to create complex blast designs based on the concept of controlled energy. By producing a 3D map of a site, Expertir allows engineers to generate precise pre- and post-drill profiles, as well as accurate loading and timing plans – all providing optimised blast performance.
Once produced, this design can be compared to previous blasts – stored on Expertir – enabling engineers to make real-time, data-led, informative decisions before the blasting process proceeds.
A more accurate approach
Once the initial blast design is complete, Expertir includes the facility to export drilling and loading plans direct to the latest generation of smart drill rigs and bulk emulsion trucks, as well as being able to carry out initiation pattern designs that can be exported to various detonator systems.
This integrated approach of Expertir, as well as its ability to produce a comprehensive 360°view of a quarry, is enabling engineers to more accurately place holes and calculate emulsion amounts and shot charges. Expertir also includes several blast design algorithms enabling the automatic generation of blast hole locations to optimise energy distribution, which ultimately results in the best possible fragmentation – the fundamental objective of any blast. The principles of burden relief timing are included in the initiation pattern design routines of the software.
All data produced both prior to, during, and post blast is securely stored in an online centralised location. This accumulated information enables users to analyse and interpret blast statistics, as well as conduct audits more efficiently. Most importantly, this resource provides our customers and engineers alike with access to a wealth of historic data, the interpretation of which will help maximise future blast optimisation.
Birds eye view
The ability to integrate all technologies, regardless of source, is key to Expertir’s success. Central to this has been the introduction and increasing use of drones, as opposed to lasers, to create detailed face surveys, safely, economically, and more accurately.
With a fleet of drones already in use, we began a series of trials to assess the accuracy of drone profile measurement compared to more conventional face profiling methods. It became clear by acquiring blast imagery from the vantage points drone technology offered, more precise modelling of blast faces could be achieved. The entire process, from flying the drone to processing the resulting imagery, takes no longer than 30 minutes and has proved to be a more efficient method of modelling.
The information gathered by our drones is fed directly into Expertir, turning the data into meticulous 3D models. Drones are now an integral part of our blast surveying capabilities, enabling our engineers to be more precise and efficient, but in a significantly reduced time frame.
On-site safety is a key focus in any advancement of EPC-UK’s drilling and blasting activities, and we are constantly developing new techniques to allow us to deliver a safer service to our customers. Expertir is one such development.
By using Expertir, all aspects of a blast can be conducted from a distance. From the flying of the drone to collect data, to the blast design, Expertir allows engineers to work remotely, out of the way of heavy machinery or geological hazards.
“Safety is and will always remain, the number one priority for EPC-UK. We are constantly working on ways to improve the safety of our engineers and customers, and Expertir is enabling us to do just that,” explains Ryan Ward, Commercial Manager. “Having the ability to work remotely is helping us to revolutionise safety practices within the quarry environment and still produce designs that result in the best possible energy distribution and fragmentation.”
A fully digital future
“Expertir is helping to transform the way we work,” concludes Ryan. “From survey and design, to exporting drill patterns and the blast itself, Expertir allows us to plan, control and deliver from one platform.
“Using technology such as Expertir is quite a big shift for the industry and our customers, but we’re confident that it will soon become the norm. Expertir is a facilitator for the digital quarry. It is helping to move us towards a completely digital and paperless environment, as well as providing the most comprehensive, integrated and remote drilling and blasting service possible.”