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SmartROC C50 in Canada

Drill deeper, drill safer

December 15, 2020

The drills conventionally used in quarries are designed to operate at a bench depth of about 12-15 meters. Trying to penetrate much deeper can cause Down-The-Hole and tophammer drills to deviate, creating accuracy and potential safety problems.

So when drilling and blasting contractor FDDF recognized there was a push to dig deeper at some of the limestone quarries on the South Shore of Montreal, the Quebec-based company started a hunt for new drilling technology. Distributors in North America came up empty handed, so president David Habib and his partners Guillaume Ayotte-Pinard and Simon Forget looked to Europe and Japan instead.


Their search lead to the discovery of Epiroc’s SmartROC C50, a drill rig used widely in European quarries but practically unheard of across the pond. The SmartROC C50 uses unique COPROD technology to deliver speed, efficiency and safety under demanding conditions. The drill cycle is fully automated, reducing the dependency on the operator to get the depth and angle of the hole just right.

“We actually found (Epiroc’s) SmartROC C50 system on You Tube,” said Habib. “We ended up going to Belgium to see the drill operating at a quarry there and we came back convinced we could use it here at an advantage.”
FDDF (formerly Forage & Dynamitage Daniel Fortin) took the bold step of purchasing the SmartROC C50 and having it shipped to Montreal in August 2019, the first in Canada (and possibly North America) to do so.  As a result, the growing company won the contract to drill up to 30 metre meter benches at three of its customer’s bigger quarries, largely because the engineer responsible for certifying the deeper drilling and blasting deemed the plan safe using the SmartROC C50 and its COPROD technology. The three quarries produce about 2.5-3 million tonnes of limestone per year.
SmartROC C50 with car from formerly Forage & Dynamitage Daniel Fortin

“The SmartROC C50 drill rig produces drilling logs in real time, so as soon as we’ve finished drilling, we know the deviation of the hole and the hardness of each section of the rock. With this information, we can load the explosives in each hole quite precisely. The more precise the blasting, the safer it is, and the less flyrock we have.”


Controlling noise and vibration levels and limiting flyrock are particularly important in populated areas such as the South Shore of Montreal, where FDDF operates near residential neighbourhoods.

Habib also appreciates the SmartROC C50 rig’s built-in Hole Navigation System (HNS), which allows his drillers to locate the correct drillhole location automatically without risking injury at the face.

President David Habib at FDDF

"When we submitted our proposal to the customer, the safety of the SmartROC C50 system helped us to win the contract. It gave us an edge over our competitors."

David Habib ,President, FDDF (formerly Forage & Dynamitage Daniel Fortin)

But quarries are not the only market for the rig.


FDDF also won the contract to dig a highway tunnel under the city of Montreal. There was zero allowance for deviation along the outline of the 25-meter-deep shafts at either end of the tunnel and so, again, the precision of the SmartROC C50 drill provided a critical advantage.

SmartROC C50 with blue sky at customer site

Habib said the difference between the SmartROC C50 and a conventional drill rig is like the difference between a Formula One racecar and a regular automobile.  The time FDDF saves drilling lines, and the precision and safety features so appreciated by his customers, more than make up for the added capital expense.


FDDF is Habib’s third drilling and blasting venture. He bought the company from the previous owner, Daniel Fortin, in 2015. Since then, FDDF has grown from six workers in high season to 35-40 today. The company’s revenue has expanded about sevenfold over the same time period.


In the past three years, FDDF has invested heavily in new technology. Besides the SmartROC C50, the drilling and blasting contractor bought a second jumbo rig from Epiroc and two rock splitters from Japan. 


“With such a wide range of tools, we can expand our services.”


FDDF uses Epiroc drill rigs exclusively. The fleet of about a dozen rigs includes several FlexiROC T40 tophammer drills for construction projects and medium sized quarries, and Boomer 282 Face drill rigs for undergoing mining and tunnelling jobs.


“Any good blaster will tell you that the first step is to start with a good drill,’ said Habib.  “In our company, we have an expression: ‘une foreuse est jaune’ (a drill is yellow).”

2020 SmartROC C50 Surface mining & quarrying Canada International Surface and Exploration Drilling division Customer story

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