Fire Protection For Robot-Driven Warehouses

For warehouse facility managers operating automatic storage and retrieval systems (ASRS), related guidelines on fire safety are available from insurer FM Global.

Robots make warehouses more efficient but also may introduce new fire risks. It’s a worry that has prompted commercial and industrial property insurer FM Global to give new advice to clients in warehouse management that are using automatic storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) in their facilities. Headquartered in Johnston, RI, FM Global’s capital, scientific research capability, and engineering expertise are dedicated to property risk management and the resilience of its client-owners.warehouse management

The new ASRS guidelines, based on five years of research, can help those in risk management and warehouse management:

  • Optimize fire protection through careful storage design choices;
  • Reduce costs of fire protection systems, including the costs of piping, pumps, and water tanks;
  • Base their protection strategies in evidence, not guesswork; and
  • Support sustainability through the use of less water.

These fire protection guidelines are important as a growing number of companies automate their warehouses, pack them more densely, stack products higher, and use flammable plastic containers that can trap water emitted by fire sprinklers.

“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). The document includes provisions for: sprinkler arrangement; independence of in-rack and ceiling sprinkler systems; container design; and racking structure.

FM Global data sheets are available at no charge (registration required) on the FM Global website.