EPC-UK, a market leader in the manufacture, storage and distribution of commercial explosives, will be “bringing the blast to life” at this year’s Hillhead, thanks to the latest Augmented Reality technology. A combination of Virtual Reality and the real world, Augmented Reality (AR) takes the form of live video imagery, which is enhanced with computer generated graphics, immersing the user in a specific environment – for example in a quarry whilst a blast is being conducted. The state-of-the-art technology also adds labels, captions and other helpful overlays to the user’s view, making it an ideal teaching tool.“Augmented Reality is a way of placing a person in a situation they would not normally be able to experience. By bringing it to Hillhead, we hope to engage visitors within the quarrying environment and get a true feel for what we do,” explains Ben Williams, Managing Director of EPC-UK.“However, AR is not just for entertainment. It has a number of practical applications, the most important of which is training. Within our industry it is extremely difficult to realistically recreate certain scenarios, from both an economical and safety standpoint. However, AR is changing this. It is enabling us to take learning out of the classroom and into the quarry – virtually.“There are limitations, but AR will allow students to learn at their own pace, giving them the ability to rewind training videos to help aid the retention of information,” adds Williams. Alongside the AR demonstrations, EPC-UK will also be showcasing its innovative EPC-Metrics service. Launched last year, the service, developed in partnership with Datum Monitoring Services, aims to facilitate the immediate access of event data, via state-of-the-art fixed monitoring stations, removing the need to travel to and from a monitoring location, and the time-consuming manual download of results in the field.The advanced monitoring stations incorporate a GSM modem for wireless data transmission, together with the option for solar power, enabling the service to be used even in the most remote of locations. “We have been successfully providing traditional blast monitoring services for a while, but EPC-Metrics takes this offering to another level,” continues Williams. “A fixed monitoring location provides a consistent point of reference for reliable results, whilst the real-time transmission of data saves our customers both time and resources as they no longer have to produce this information on site.“The service offers users a more efficient way of monitoring blast vibration and air over-pressure, aiding the tracking of compliance and providing a greater understanding of site characteristics.”EPC-UK will also be announcing a series of new training programmes, from ‘Environmental Management in Blasting’ and ‘Geology for Blasting’ to ‘Managing the Blast Site’ and ‘Explosives Legislations for Senior Managers’. These industry leading courses have been specifically designed for the industry, encouraging continuous professional development within the sector and attracting new talent.“Our industry is constantly evolving and, as such, so are we. We have already moved away from playing a purely manufacturing role to becoming a full-service provider and our investment in innovative technology, such as AR, is a demonstration of this.“We are excited to be showcasing this technology at the industry’s foremost event and look forward to bringing the blast to life for our visitors,” concludes Williams.