Learning more about our colleagues’ roles and how we work together as a team, Onsite talks to Sam Skinner about his professional experience with EPC-UK and his new appointment as Drone Manager.
Sam, tell us how you started working for EPC-UK?
I joined EPC-UK straight from university after gaining experience as both a quarry technician and geotechnical assistant in previous roles. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to complete a three-month internship with EPC-UK during my studies, which provided me with a smooth transition from academic life to my role as a professional. I’ve been part of the team now for two years.
Where (and what) did you study?
I graduated from Camborne School of Mines within the University of Exeter completing BEng Mining Engineering. Additionally, I am currently undertaking MSc Engineering Management through the University of Leeds to further develop the skills required to succeed in the engineering industry.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities at EPC-UK?
As an Explosives Engineer, I offer technical services and advice across the blasting sector. Currently, much of my role relates to EPC Metrics; a branch of EPC-UK that focuses on Drone Mapping Services, Fixed Remote Monitoring, Equipment Serving and Calibration, in addition to Consulting Services. We are currently expanding this section of the business, so it’s a great time to be involved and influence the division’s growth.
What do you like most about working with EPC-UK?
I really enjoy the variety of work that I experience as part of the job; no day is the same. Performing within a role that brings new technology into the extractives industry means that there are constant challenges, but we need that to ensure we keep innovating and adapting to new ideas.
Congratulations on your recent appointment as Drone Manager – what does your new position entail?
I’m responsible for the safe running of EPC-UK’s fleet of drones and operations. I also ensure UK legal requirement compliance, work to exceed customer expectations, and develop future drone pilot capabilities.
Tell us about the benefits of using drones compared to alternative data collection methods?
The implementation of drones delivers new ways to advance working. It complements EPC-UK’s ‘Rock on Ground’ and Shotfiring offerings, and creates a foundation for EPC Metrics to undertake unique projects and Drone Mapping Services. Expert drone use provides increased levels of safety, higher degrees of accuracy and faster data collection abilities when compared to a traditional surveying approach.
What do you think the future of drone technology at EPC-UK will be?
Now and moving forward, drones offer EPC-UK customers a unique tool, in conjunction with our in-house blast design software Expertir. Together the technologies enable blast designs that are accurate and can be quickly developed alongside valuable measurable data for all areas of operation. Additionally, drone surveying presents the opportunity to view the geology of the rock mass while creating a 3D model – a significant advantage over traditional surveying techniques. EPC-UK currently has 23 fully trained Drone Pilots operating throughout the UK, with an ongoing plan to train further pilots and invest in more equipment over coming years.
I can see that drone technology will become the standard. We already have a number of sites, which in 2020 used drone technology for all surveying activities; therefore, we know making drone surveying the norm is possible. Now, it’s about learning from our experiences and expanding drone technologies to become a part of multiple, appropriate applications.