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2020 / 2021 Edition

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EPC-UK invest in the future at Rough Close Works

Matrix plant opening

EPC Groupe chairman and CEO Olivier Obst officially opens new state-of-the-art bulk emulsion facility

EPC-UK have officially opened their new bulk emulsion facility at the company’s Rough Close Works site, in Derbyshire. Designed to deliver the infrastructure required to enhance the safety of the company’s emulsion manufacturing process, the state-of-the-art site – a result of the company’s biggest investment in 25 years – was formally unveiled by Olivier Obst, chairman and chief executive officer of the EPC Groupe.

Bulk emulsion, otherwise known as ammonium nitrate blasting intermediate (ANBI), is the primary raw material in EPC-UK’s Blendex range of site-mixed bulk explosives and is used by the company’s ‘Rock-on-Ground’ service teams, as well as by its direct supply customers.

The new facility has been created by adapting existing buildings to allow EPC-UK to house the necessary process equipment and raw material storage vessels. Two new structures accommodate an ammonium nitrate silo and a final product silo, a new steam and condensate line has been installed, the access road to the plant has been widened and a new weighbridge has been installed.

As an upper-tier COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards) site, EPC-UK have to ensure that the production of their emulsion matrix meets the most stringent safety requirements. To this end this new plant is built to the latest standards compliant with UK legislation, as well as meeting international and EPC Groupe standards.

Using safety instrumented systems (SIS) in accordance with BS EN 61511 (Functional Safety) to achieve the highest levels of safety, the facility provides a safer and more ergonomic working environment for both operations and maintenance personnel. It is also understood to be the first emulsion plant to comply with the majority of the criteria cited.

From a design perspective, significant attention has been paid to the facility’s ability to heighten safety with the incorporation of new control system displays, a variety of access and egress improvements, and the colouring and labelling of process pipework.

Commenting on the importance of the new emulsion plant, Chris Barlow, operations manager at the Rough Close Works operation, explained: ‘This is the largest investment the EPC Groupe has made in the UK for some years. Not only is it allowing us to ensure stringent safety standards are adhered to, it is also enabling us to create a manufacturing process that is more efficient in terms of energy usage, reducing the company’s carbon footprint and production costs, whilst having the flexibility to vary production rates.’

The plant’s combination of advanced infrastructure and innovative equipment also serves to improve production turnaround times, meet primary environmental targets to produce zero waste, and provide an appropriate facility for EPC-UK to deliver enhanced levels of competence training.

‘By working to such exceptionally high levels within the emulsion plant, we are ensuring that EPC-UK’s emulsion production is truly ‘best in class’ for functional safety,’ continued Mr Barlow. ‘The opening was an extremely fitting start for our new facility, with Olivier Obst’s attendance demonstrating the importance of the site not only to EPC-UK, but also to the wider EPC Groupe.’

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