In my 40-plus years in the industry, I have witnessed incredible changes in how work is carried out. The advances in digital technology alone show how far we have come. If you had told me at the beginning of my working life that we would be using drones to survey sites and create 3D models, I would probably have said it was the stuff of science fiction.
It is amazing to see how far we have come, and it’s clear that the changes taking place now are happening at a rapid pace. The digital revolution and growth of areas such as autonomous vehicles and AI in general, alongside the transition to a low-carbon future, are happening at such a pace that it can be challenging to see how we can effectively harness new technology to best support our industry.
As President, I am privileged to witness a variety of activities that the Institute of Quarrying (IQ) and its partners are working on to support members and the sector in driving knowledge and innovation.
The graduation ceremony for students at the University of Derby Centre for Mineral Products took place during the summer. As always, it is an annual reminder of the bright talent we have coming into and through our sector. It is clear from this year’s results that we are going from strength to strength in terms of the performance of students. These graduates will be pivotal in meeting the challenges that the industry faces, with new ideas and creative solutions.
Other updates surrounding innovation include the IQ’s new Emerald Challenge award. I am proud to be part of its judging panel; it has been a real privilege to review a variety of applications that have been submitted by members from across the industry. We have innovative people who are developing new ideas on how we can support and deliver more sustainable outcomes.
I look forward to the next phase of judging, followed by the announcement of the winner at this year’s Fellows’ Lunch and Student Awards, which will be held in London this October.
Notably, there have been further advancements in IQ’s collaboration with Derbyshire County Council and other pertinent authorities. This partnership aims to foster co-operation and devise strategies to attain net-zero emissions for Derbyshire. Through dialogue, support, and concerted efforts between industry stakeholders, authorities, and individuals, innovative methodologies are emerging to tackle the challenges of decarbonization.
Reflecting on the late 1990s, I had the privilege of enrolling in the inaugural Cambridge University Sustainable Business Networks Post Graduate Diploma programme. This experience profoundly shaped my perspective on the potential and advantages of collaborative efforts with stakeholders for a sustainable future. The discussions illustrate a collective determination to find solutions and ensure essential knowledge and skills continue for years to come. This stands as another example of the lifelong learning opportunities our industry offers, along with the potential for roles and avenues it offers to drive change.
Since I began writing these columns, it has become apparent that we have come a long way. However, as we step into the next phase of our industry, we should aspire to keep achieving more to encourage innovation. I firmly believe that our members possess the passion and dedication required to be at the heart of that change.