Robotic fire risks

Published:  18 October, 2017

Fire-protection guidelines for warehouses containing automatic storage and retrieval systems have been published by FM Global.

The new advice has been compiled as a result of the growing number of companies that are automating their warehouses, packing them more densely, stacking products higher, and using flammable plastic containers that can trap water emitted by fire sprinklers.

They are the result of five years’ of research, including substantial investment that has run into the millions of dollars, said FM Global.

The guidelines aim to assist warehouse managers to optimise fire protection through storage design; reduce costs of fire protection systems; base protection strategies on evidence; and support sustainability through the use of less water.

The guidelines include provisions for sprinkler arrangement; independence of in-rack and ceiling sprinkler systems; container design; and racking structure.

“The guidelines are intended to answer the vexing questions risk managers and warehouse managers are struggling with around fire protection in ASRS settings,” said Brion Callori, senior vice president and manager, engineering and research at FM Global. “Careful design and configuration can help companies quickly suppress fires and stay in business. The goal is to let robots, which in science fiction always seem to run amok, deliver the quiet efficiency they promise in the real world.”

The new guidelines constitute FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 8-34, Protection for Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS). FM Global data sheets are available at http://www.fmglobaldatasheets.com/.

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