New challenges for logistics centers fire protection installations with online shopping growth

17.05.2021
New challenges for logistics centers fire protection installations with online shopping growth

The growth of online shopping is impressive and in 2020 was more than 70 % of the internet users in EU online buyers, up from around 50% ten years ago (Eurostat). The increase is found in all age groups and in all countries. The reasons for online shopping include both convenience and ease of finding the most competitive prices and overall improved experience with generous return rights, fast deliveries etc. as well.

The covid 19 pandemic has brought further increase of the online shopping and according to Statista, will the Europeans spend 355 Billion EUR online this year and pass 425 BEUR in 3 years.

This trend is moving storage and logistics from stores and wholesalers to specialized logistics center and consequently the demand for that type of facilities is growing dramatically. This is further reinforced by the fact that handling of single packages and returns in the e-commerce world requires significantly (2 to 3 times) larger areas than a store based logistics. 
These kind of fulfilment centers for online shopping are typically very high storage buildings with an increasing amount of automated goods handling and robotics in the work force. From a fire protection perspective these kind of facilities offers quite different challenges, compared to storage based warehousing. With ceiling heights of often more than 20 meters, ordinary smoke detectors cannot be used to cover the areas between the high racks and inside the high racks maintenance and testing of point detectors will be difficult when the shelves are full and the fork lifts are in operation. 

National regulations for installations of fire detection in high storage building are different in different countries, but often is a detection required on every 6-8 meters of vertical height inside the high racks and on each level detection points are required every 5-8 meters. Additionally, is normally also detection in the ceiling required between the high racks and in high buildings this limits the available detection technologies. Point detectors are not allowed in very high ceilings and it is also very inconvenient for maintenance and testing, both inside the racks and in high ceilings. Beam detection could work in the ceiling but not inside the racks. The most suitable detection technology for this kind of applications would be aspiration and when planning the systems, there are a few things to consider that will reduce the investment costs as well as making testing and maintenance more efficient: 

  • When selecting the detector please make sure that it is self-calibrating and can handle large variations in air flow with open large loading doors.
  • When planning the pipes for the high racks use a detector that can connect at least 4 pipes to each detector to minimize the number of detectors and thereby the investment cost.
  • When planning use detectors with built in power supply to eliminate the need for external 24V supply.
  • When selecting detection system make sure you can get Class A/B for the high ceilings and Class C for detection inside the high racks.
  • When you plan the piping, make sure to have the last hole in every pipe on ground level so maintenance and annual testing does not require a lift.

With the Covid 19 we have also seen a dramatic increase in online grocery shopping and e-commerce warehouses with cold storages offers even larger challenges to the equipment and installation. Standard detectors cannot handle the common temperatures of minus 25-30° C and requires that the detectors to be located outside the storage room and that a heater is installed to warm up the air before entering the detector. Additionally, they require I/O units and an external 24V power supply. All in all, an expensive solution that requires making hole in the insulated walls.

With Panasonic’s unique aspirating solutions, you get an addressable detector system that is self-calibrating. It can handle large variations in airflow, can connect up to 4*100 meters of pipes, has a built-in power supply, does not require I/O units and can operate in temperatures from -30°C to +55°C. As a bonus, you will also save a lot of time with our innovative glue free pipes.