Making headway in Morocco
PowerROC T35 drill rig from Epiroc meets the maintenance challenge at quartzite quarry
QUARTZITE is one of the hardest types of rock found near the Earth’s surface, often ranking even higher than granite. Extracting it means drilling into hard and abrasive ground, which inevitably causes much wear and tear on equipment and drill strings.
At Had Soualem Quarry near Morocco’s Atlantic coast, some 40km south of Casablanca, quarry company Gravettes et Bâtiments had regularly faced challenges with runaway costs and lost time associated with maintenance.
‘Wear and tear is the number one challenge and this is reflected in repair costs and lost productivity. The quartzite at Had Soualem has 90% silica content, on average, which makes it very hard and durable, and of course attractive for our customers,’ explained site manager Boubker Moukafih.
In their quest to extract the quartzite at Had Soualem, the drilling team produce 12m deep x 76mm diameter blastholes in a 2.6m x 3.0m pattern, and by introducing an Epiroc PowerROC T35 drill rig at the site to replace their old equipment, Gravettes et Bâtiments say they have achieved major improvements on all fronts.
Reliable performance day in, day out and easy maintenance are two of the key hallmarks of the PowerROC T35, say Epiroc, adding that the hydraulically controlled drill rig is a proven workhorse for construction operations, aggregate and limestone quarries, and one that also boasts low fuel consumption and an ergonomic design.
Site manager Boubker Moukafih continued: ‘The PowerROC T35 was recommended to us by the blasting contractor we collaborate with at the quarry, who also offers drilling services and owns the explosives sub-supplier CADEX. Our daily production target is 2,000 cubic metres, which we can now achieve in a 10-hour shift with minimal disruption.
‘Upgrading to the PowerROC T35 has also improved the working environment for our operators. The cabin is more comfortable and the joystick controls are far easier to use than the levers on our previous equipment.’
With 70 employees working at Had Soualem, six are technicians dedicated to servicing all the quarrying equipment, so establishing an easy maintenance routine was crucial for the team. An Epiroc service technician also visits the site from time to time to keep the maintenance process running smoothly.
Thanks to the low number of moving parts on the PowerROC T35 and good accessibility, the team are able to carry out all scheduled preventive maintenance in an hour or less, cutting the average service time by 30%.
In addition, the use of the PowerROC T35 in the quarry meant that Gravettes et Bâtiments are able to achieve a penetration rate that is 25% higher than before, largely thanks to the COP Logic system which ensures that hydraulic rig adapts automatically to the ground conditions at any given moment.
The COP Logic system also helps to avoid jamming, which translates into less downtime and longer service life for the drilling tools. Moreover, the PowerROC T35 is equipped with a highly efficient oil-cooling unit, which is capable of resisting tropical temperatures up to 50°C, making it a particularly suitable choice for Moroccan climate during the hot and dry summer season.
‘It takes us about 30 minutes to drill one 12m hole using the PowerROC T35 and the overall performance and reliability of the drill rig means that troubleshooting has decreased significantly,’ Mr Moukafih explained. ‘This has elevated both our productivity and cost competitiveness.’
He added that the Epiroc COP hammer, which comes as standard on the PowerROC T35, had had a game-changing impact on the quarry’s drilling performance. ‘With its dual-dampening system, the hammer provides more power using less energy, which further improves the service life of the drilling accessories. In this context, impressive progress was noticeable from the very start,’ he said.