Czech mate to Epiroc

Breaking, Drilling & Blasting / December 12, 2023
By Guy Woodford
Přemysl Gromada, head of the Explosia Drilling Group. Pic: Epiroc

A surface drilling team in the Czech Republic provides first-class drill and blast services to quarries nationwide after purchasing a new fleet of Epiroc equipment. GUY WOODFORD reports


Some years ago, the Fospol division of Explosia decided to renew its fleet and has since 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. It aims to boost its capacity to five Epiroc rigs by year-end 2023.


These SmartROC T40 MKII rigs are equipped with the Hole Navigation System (HNS) and are expected to be delivered in the second half 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.

Explosia has three Epiroc drill rigs, including the top-of-the-range SmartROC D50 MKII. Pic: Epiroc


Přemysl Gromada, head of the Fospol-Explosia Drilling Group, points out that when the first SmartROC D50 arrived in the Czech Republic, it represented a milestone for Explosia.


"It was a DTH [down the hole] rig unlike any other in the whole country, and it was a great success for our company," he says. "It felt like a reward for a job well done in terms of the company's modernisation and investment plan.


"Since then, we have increased our productivity by about thirty per cent, not only due to the modernisation 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 0.3-0.5 m/min, as well as in the softer limestone quarries of Velké Hydcice, where the average penetration rate is 1.3 m/min.


With tophammer drilling, the rigs drill 89, 95 and 102 mm diameter holes and 100 and 105 mm diameter holes with DTH drilling. The holes are normally drilled to depths of 15–20m.


Gromada says a hole of 15–29 metres is completed in 30-60 minutes, much to the drillers' satisfaction.


He continues: "As our previous rigs were about 15 years older than the latest models, our drillers see improvements on almost every level. But they probably most value the automatic processes, such as full drill cycle automation DTH, tophammer 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 look forward to achieving efficiency gains with features such as one-hole automation and the Hole Navigation System (HNS). However, the company says it is early days, and the full benefits will not be fully realised until 2024. However, performance monitoring using the Epiroc Certiq system has already proven its worth.


Gromada says: "We have been using Certiq since the autumn of 2021 when we purchased the Epiroc SmartROC T40 and T45 drilling rigs, which was a big change for us. It was a move towards more efficient monitoring of production and simplification of records.


"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 its drilling operations in the second half of 2020. This tool, Gromada points out, has been particularly helpful in 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, its 2023 fuel consumption averaged 0.96 litres per drill metre – almost half. Currently, the monthly savings on diesel average about 3,000 litres.

Exploisa says its Eprioc drill rigs are ultra-fuel efficient and highly productive. Pic: Epiroc


In the past, due to its ageing fleet and lack of repair and maintenance services, Explosia has urgently and regularly had to request assistance from its competitors to complete drilling projects, but not anymore, explains Přemysl Gromada.


"The situation has changed significantly over the last three years, and this is the first year that we can offer drilling work to companies in the Czech Republic who unexpectedly get into a situation where they cannot meet deadlines.


"Fortunately, Explosia realised in time that without modernisation 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 drilling quality is completely different now and much better."


In terms of all its operations, Explosia is a company with a 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 important for everyone," continues Přemysl Gromada, who proudly claims a strong personal commitment to environmental protection.


"Epiroc has helped us by significantly reducing exhaust fumes, primarily as the new rigs have better fuel consumption than the old ones, and lowering emissions further through AdBlue. So, I can see that over the last four years, Explosia has significantly shifted ecology towards conservation and more consideration for nature."

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