Explosia take drilling performance and sustainability to next level in quarries across Czech Republic
A SURFACE drilling team in the Czech Republic is successfully providing first-class drilling and blasting services to quarries across the country after purchasing a new fleet of Epiroc equipment.
Some years ago, the Fospol division of Explosia made the decision to renew its fleet and has since then been continually phasing out its older drill rigs and replacing them with modern equipment.
The company currently has six drill rigs, three of which are from Epiroc, including the top-of-the-range SmartROC D50 MKII, and is aiming to boost its capacity to five Epiroc rigs with the addition of two SmartROC T40 MKII rigs, both equipped with the Hole Navigation System (HNS), by the end of 2023.
In addition, the whole fleet will be backed up by Epiroc’s ROC Care service and maintenance contract, which includes regular service inspections using Epiroc’s RigScan scanning technology.
Přemysl Gromada, head of the drilling group, pointed out that when the first SmartROC D50 arrived in the country, it represented a milestone for Explosia.
‘It was a down-the-hole (DTH) rig unlike any other in the whole country and it was a great success for our company,’ he said. ‘It felt like a reward for a job well done in terms of the company’s modernization and investment plan.
‘Since then we have increased our productivity by about 30%, not only due to the modernization of the fleet, but also to the replacement of personnel in drilling positions.’
The Epiroc fleet performs well in the hard rock quarries of Litice-Plzeň, achieving penetration rates of 0.3-0.5m/min, as well as in the softer limestone quarries of Velké Hydcice where the average penetration rate is 1.3m/min.
With top-hammer drilling, the rigs drill 89mm, 95mm and 102mm diameter holes, and 100mm and 105mm diameter holes with DTH drilling. The holes are normally drilled to depths of 15–20m.
‘Overall, a hole of 15–29m is completed in 30–60 minutes, much to the drillers’ satisfaction,’ said Mr Gromada.
He continued: ‘As the previous rigs we had were about 15 years older than the latest models, our drillers see improvements on almost every level. But they probably value the automatic processes the most, such as full drill cycle automation DTH, top-hammer rod extraction assistance, remote control and the Hole Navigation System.
‘This high level of automation eliminates interventions by the driller and accelerates the whole drilling process.’
The drillers are looking forward to achieving efficiency gains with features such as one-hole automation and the Hole Navigation System (HNS), but the company says it is early days and the full benefits will not be fully realized until 2024. However, performance monitoring using the Epiroc Certiq system is already said to have proven its worth.
‘We have been using Certiq since the autumn of 2021 when we purchased the Epiroc SmartROC T40 and T45 drilling rigs, and that was a big change for us. It was a move towards more efficient monitoring of production and simplification of records,’ said Mr Gromada. ‘This gave us a much better overview of inputs and outputs of individual drilling rigs, which made calculations easier for us.’
The same can be said of the My Epiroc application which Explosia also adopted into their drilling operations in the second half of 2020. This tool, Mr Gromada pointed out, has been particularly helpful when it comes to production monitoring and planning of regular service activities.
In addition, the company has noted significant improvements in overall fuel consumption. The average consumption of diesel using the previous Epiroc ROC L6 drill rig was approximately 1.9 litres per drill metre.
With its replacement, the Epiroc SmartROC D50 MKII in 2023, fuel consumption averaged 0.96 litres per drill metre – almost 50% less. Currently, the monthly savings on diesel are averaging around 3,000 litres.
In the past, due to their aging fleet and lack of repair and maintenance services, Explosia urgently and regularly had to request assistance from their competitors to complete drilling projects, but not anymore, as Mr Gromada explained.
‘The situation has changed significantly over the last three years, and this is the first year that we have the capacity to offer drilling work to companies in the Czech Republic who unexpectedly get into a situation where they are not able to meet deadlines,’ he said.
‘Fortunately, we realized in time that without modernization and investment it would not be possible to continue fulfilling our existing or future obligations, let alone be a full-fledged competitor to other companies in the drilling business. The quality of the drilling is completely different now and on a much better level.’
In terms of all their operations, Explosia have comprehensive sustainability policy. By commissioning the new Epiroc drill rigs, the drilling team has reduced fuel consumption by 30–50%.
‘Whether it concerns raw materials, energy, production or any other resource, sustainability is something that is important for everyone,’ continued Mr Gromada, who has a strong personal commitment to environmental protection.
‘Epiroc have helped us in this regard by significantly reducing exhaust fumes – primarily as the new rigs have better fuel consumption than the old ones – and lowering emissions further through the use of AdBlue. I can see that over the last four years Explosia have made a significant shift in the field of ecology towards conservation and more consideration for nature.’