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f+h Intralogistics 3/2015

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f+h Intralogistics 3/2015


WAREHOUSING Fireproof storage of written treasures The British Library houses more than 150 million different printed works, some of which are of an incalculable value. Water-based fire prevention and protection solutions are not ideal for safely protecting printed works from fire. To avoid water damage to any of the paper in the event of a fire, the operators have implemented fire prevention and protection systems which reduce the amount of oxygen by supplying nitrogen. T he British Library was established in London on July 1, 1973 and is one of the largest and most extensive libraries in the world. The library stock includes valuable works like the Magna Carta, Leonardo da Vinci‘s notebook, and one of the Gutenberg bibles. Around three million copies are added each year. Due to continuously increasing storage requirements, the Document Storage Centre in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire was built in addition to the main building complex that is located in the St. Pancras area of London. Nowadays, more than seven million works are stored in two different buildings at the West Yorkshire site. This makes it one of the largest document suppliers in the world supplying libraries, museums, and exhibitions with exhibits in a variety of countries. The entire, internationally operating lending department is also located at this site. Due to the incalculable value of the collections stored in Boston Spa, the British Library decided to rely on the many years of experience offered by Wagner Group GmbH based in Langenhagen, Germany when it came to fire protection. The Additional Storage Program (ASP) in Boston Spa was placed in operation in December 2008. The space is split into two 35,000 and 50,000 m³ areas, where Britain‘s written treasures, some are centuries old, are stored in 25 m tall rows of shelves that add up to more than 100 km (Fig. 01). The unique feature of the ASP is the fully automated high-bay warehouse. Books, magazines, and similar are stored in 140,000 plastic containers fitted with barcodes. Only the work stations where books are placed into or removed from storage are staffed. As the conditions are similar to that of a warehouse, the planers opted for an extensive fire protection concept that is designed to prevent fires by reducing the amount of oxygen. The Newspaper Storage Building (NSB), that cost £33 million and has a volume of 45,000 m³, was opened in 2014 to further expand the storage capacities. The active fire prevention system, Oxyreduct, from Wagner was also selected as the fire protection system for this building (Fig. 02). „After having had a good experience with this system, we again chose Wagner,“ explains Patrick Dixon, Head of Engineering & Construction at The British Library, justifying the decision. The new NSB has a similar design to the ASP and is arranged like a high-bay warehouse that is also fully automated. The 664,000 annual volumes of newspapers are stored in bundles on trays along a total of 32 km of shelving. They are moved in and out of the high-bay warehouse with automatic shelf handling equipment. In this building, only the removal and rebundling processes are completed by hand (Fig. 03). Extreme amount of damage despite low fire risk The general fire risk in both warehouses is low. Paper is a dry material and cannot ignite itself. However, faults within the electrical system could cause a fire in both of the warehouses. The narrow design of the shelves would also cause the fire to spread quickly up to the roof of the hall. Rising hot 36 f+h Intralogistics 3/2015

air can quickly heat up materials in higher shelves. In addition, even small amounts of soot and smoke and a minimal amount of heat can damage or even destroy the written works. The use of a water-based fire protection solution, such as a sprinkler system, was out of the question as the water used to fight the fire would cause a lot a damage to the books and magazines. Additionally, a fire needs to have developed to a certain extent before such a system will startup. Valuable time would therefore be lost. Close cooperation between British Library and Wagner The basic principle of the fire protection solution is the same for both warehouses – actively preventing a fire by reducing the amount of oxygen. With the help of the controlled adding of nitrogen, the active fire prevention system, Oxyreduct, reduces the amount of oxygen within the automated area from 20.95 volume percent to a value of between 14.8 to 15 volume percent. The oxygen-reduced atmosphere is highly fire retardant, although the areas can still be accessed by personnel to complete maintenance work, for example. The temperature and relative humidity are maintained at a constant level to optimize the warehouse and fire protection system. In the ASP, these values are 16°C and 52 percent air humidity, while in the NSB they are 12 to 14°C and 35 to 40 percent air humidity. However, the British Library required the operating costs of the NSB to be optimized in comparison to the ASP. This was because of new regulations governing the operating 01 ASP houses books, magazines, etc. that are stored in 140,000 plastic containers fitted with barcodes costs of public buildings in the United Kingdom. Therefore in contrast to the ASP, the NSB was designed for Wagner‘s fire protection concept from the outset. The room density of the building and air conditioning technology were therefore designed in accordance with specifications by the company based in Langenhagen. The particularly energy-efficient Oxyreduct Vacuum Pressure Swing Adsorption (VPSA) technology is also implemented. In contrast to conventional membrane systems, the Oxyreduct VPSA requires up to 80 percent less energy to produce nitrogen under optimum conditions. In both of the storage facilities, Titanus Pro-Sens aspirating smoke detectors check the ambient air for pyrolysis particles so that a fire is detected at an early stage when it is developing. All of the fire detection and prevention data is combined in the Visu- LAN hazard management system so that any necessary measures can be implemented. This combination provides maximum protection for the British written reasures. Photos: Lead photo: ASP in Boston Spa, 01 to 03 Wagner Group 02 Oxyreduct VPSA system protects the NSB against fire About Wagner Group The Wagner Group GmbH has been developing and producing technical fire protection systems since 1976 and has established itself internationally as an innovative provider of solutions and systems. Wagner is a global technology leader in the field of fire detection and fire prevention and covers the complete service portfolio for its customers from planning and design to system construction and service. The product range is based on four system focal points: Fire Detection (Titanus), Fire Prevention (Oxyreduct), Fire Extinguishing (Firexting) and Risk Management (VisuLAN). 03 Fully automated warehouse; removal and sorting is completed manually f+h Intralogistics 3/2015 37


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