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Reducing emissions with digitalized blast design

Oct 23, 2023

EPC-UK’s drive to reach Net Zero goals remains focussed and committed. The evolving industry we work within will increasingly rely on digitalized tools, such as those we’re developing, to improve efficiencies and make operations leaner and greener. 

Technological advancement is an area in which EPC-UK has excelled in recent years. The tools we have and continue to develop are enabling more sustainable working practice that is already delivering results, as both our Commercial Manager, Ryan Ward, and Blasting Technology Development Manager, Dr. Geoff Adderley, further explain: 

Scope 1, 2 and 3

“Our aim to become the drilling & blasting and commercial explosives company that breaks ground in setting a sustainable course in operational practice is becoming ever more achievable, as a result of our increasing use of digitalized tools,” Ryan says.

“We have already made significant progress in reviewing our legislative compliance and Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) and have been successfully carrying out a full Scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon footprint evaluation in partnership with specialist consultancy McGrady Clarke. Together, we’ve been able to better ascertain where the CO2 within our business is generated from; not just that produced by EPC-UK, but also our supply chain and customer base. Key to this understanding has been the use of our VERTEX© solution, and in particular the data it captures through its EXPLORE™ application.

“Now we have knowledge and visibility of where our most significant carbon footprint areas are, we can utilise the tools we have developed to reduce carbon production in those areas, whilst maintaining or improving the services and products we offer our customers through technological advancements and changes to our methods of delivery.” 


Optimising the blast

Much of Dr. Geoff Adderley’s recent work has involved using the KPI data captured in EXPLORE to help reduce our net emissions: “Optimised blast design can result in both carbon and cost reductions;” Geoff says, “and by analysing the KPI data stored in EXPLORE from previous blasts, and using the information as a baseline from which to make changes, we can decide how to exert control on future blasts to influence the outcome. Optimised blast designs can deliver more efficient results. Take blast size as an example; a 25,000 tonne blast, compared to a 19,000 tonne blast, still uses the same resources in terms of pre and post-drill survey visits, drill transport to site and MEMU delivery, but as more rock is extracted, the emissions per tonne are reduced. Optimising the blast can also create a more suitable, energy efficient profile and swell that’s tailored to specific plant machinery; for example, we can design the blast to result in a gentle profile for front-end loaders, or alternatively, design a more stood-up blast face shovel. 

“Furthermore, our digitalized abilities are helping us to improve the accuracy of blast methods: We’re using drones for pre and post-drill profiling, probing every hole, comparing design to actual drill accuracy, and optimising blast ratios to the rock mass to ensure consistency. That consistency allows us to push the boundaries, using less explosive, less drilling and therefore less carbon, whilst still delivering the best results.”

Data in EXPLORE 

“Through the use of EXPLORE, we are working towards capturing and centrally storing the CO2 emission data from the different component parts of the drill and blast process,” Geoff continues. “This includes integration with our suppliers’ platforms to pull data directly from our drills and MEMUs. It gives us the ability to capture data from fuel consumption to meters drilled. “Combining this data with the blast design information from VERTEX then enables us to estimate the net emissions per tonne of rock blasted.” 

Seeing the bigger picture

“We consider the importance of reducing operating emissions as critical to our business. It’s one of our duties as a key industry supplier and is strongly supported by our SPIRIT values of Safety, Passion, Integrity, Respect, Innovation and Teamwork,” Ryan adds. “This view is shared by our international EPC Groupe, and we’re working collaboratively with our sister technical team in France to combine knowledge and share best practice, so operations can improve on a global level.

“Together, and with the power of VERTEX, we will further develop the digitalized tools to drive more operating efficiency and, increasingly, reduce CO2 emissions; whilst improving blast performance and customers’ costs. These goals are well within our reach and capability.  By applying the technology, passion and our evident team expertise, we can continue to reduce our emissions, now and in the future.”

For more information, email Ryan.Ward@epc-groupe.co.uk

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