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f+h Intralogistics 5/2014

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f+h Intralogistics 5/2014

warehousing Actively

warehousing Actively preventing fires Logistics are the backbone of many a company. Procedures are often interlinked and critical in terms of time. An interruption at any stage, caused by a fire for instance, disrupts all downstream processes. Not only the flames, but also the smoke, soot, and extinguishing agents damage stock and render them unsuitable for sale. As a consequence, would it not make more sense to prevent fires from occurring in the first place, instead of merely reacting to fires that have broken out? Fires often start in warehousing facilities and are caused by faults in: electrical equipment, conductor connections, electrical links, overload, as well as short circuit elements, including wiring. In addition to the obvious risk of ignition, further factors also play an important role in assessing the fire risk within warehousing facilities. Consequently, the fire risk is also largely defined by the structural characteristics of the particular warehousing facilities themselves (Image 01), the goods, and their individual ignition, as well as fire loads. Most of all packaging materials, such as cardboard and film are highly flammable. For instance, small load carriers made of polypropylene release thermal energies comparable to those of diesel or petrol. Once a fire has broken out and it is not detected in time, it has the potential to spread quickly, causing significant amounts of smoke which contaminate stored goods and render them unsuitable for sale. In addition, fires in high-bay warehouses spread particularly quickly based on their design with narrow and tall spaces between shelving. Rising combustion gases heat up and ignite goods that are stored higher up. The fire spreads dynamically (chimney effect). Due to very narrow spacing of the pallets, the spread of the fire is promoted. As a result, high-bay warehouses are a challenge with regard to fire protection, for both planners and fire services. Fighting fires in high-bay warehouses Conventional fire protection systems are purely reactive, i. e. a fire must have started and developed to a certain extent in order to trigger the firefighting system. In the process, the water used in sprinkler systems not only fights the fire, it can also cause damage to stored goods. In addition to the damage caused by smoke and soot, the fire itself will cause further damage. Very often this results in stocked goods being completely destroyed. Factors, such as the tall and closely arranged shelving systems in high-bay warehouses are an issue for fire services as they impair fire-fighting and bear the potential to even make local fire-fighting impossible as a result of falling parts. Racking storage and retrieval vehicles frequently block access, most of all in large, fully automated high-bay warehouses. In a worst case scenario, the fire service is forced to merely control the fire and let the warehouse burn to the ground. Fire protection in storages of hazardous materials and batteries is particularly crucial. The increased flammability as a result of hazardous materials considerably increases the risks. In the event of a fire, such goods additionally demonstrate dynamic combustion characteristics and also release substances which react severely and may even be toxic. In many cases, firefighting is restricted due to potential risks from intoxication or explosion. Active fire fighting for more safety Nowadays, many companies rely on active fire prevention instead of conventional fire extinguisher systems to protect their goods from fire. Phoenix Mecano, producer of a host of products, such as housing and drive 28 f+h Intralogistics 5/2014

and Intralogistics warehousing technology, is one of said companies. The fire protection solution for the company‘s high-bay warehouse, which was inaugurated in Kecskemét (Hungary) last year, relies on technology made by Wagner. A controlled supply of nitrogen results in a reduced oxygen concentration within the warehousing facilities and draws oxygen from the fire. However, the warehousing facilities remain accessible for authorized personnel. In the case of the Phoenix Mecano highbay warehouse, individual ignition thresholds of stored goods were compared using detailed stock-lists and bills of materials, as well as, values gained from previous fire tests to specify the ideal oxygen reduction in the relevant protective area from initially 20.9 to 15.2 percent per volume. The fire prevention system for the highbay warehouse must not only be reliable, it should also operate on an economically and environmentally friendly basis. Three VPSA (vacuum pressure swing absorption) nitrogen production systems produce the nitrogen required to continuously maintain the protective atmosphere directly from ambient air (Image 02). Under certain conditions, the generators can save around 80 percent of the energy compared with conventional membrane technology. Fire prevention with OxyReduct and VPSA technology therefore brings about triple benefits for operators: the high-bay warehouse is protected from the effects of fire; the company simultaneously saves operating costs and also makes a valuable contribution to reducing pollution. Conclusion Active fire prevention using OxyReduct provides a high level of protection from the effects of fires and is most suitable for areas in which conventional extinguishing systems reach their limits. The VdS-certified fire prevention system has been in use for many years in more than 700 facilities including warehousing facilities, IT units, archives, as well as many more areas and it is evolving into a standard fire protection solution. Photos: Wagner Group 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). 01 Small load carriers made of plastic are highly flammable and hence pose a risk 02 The active OxyReduct fire prevention system draws the nitrogen required to cut oxygen levels directly from the ambient air Intralogistics Trade magazine for material flow and material management 12 CeMAT Asia 2013: The intralogistics industry meets in Shanghai i n T e r n AT i o n A l e d i T i o n 7 october 2013 Click to read previous issues. Inspiration is just one click away. News about the following markets: 30 Cross-Belt employees place the items on Crisplant’s Sorter 38 50 port The viaspeed stacker crane allows high speed operations Continental’s tyres are a key factor for efficient logistics in cooperation with Materials Handling f+h Intralogistics 5/2014 29


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