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Bosch Security and Safety Systems | Czech Republic / Slovakia
Artificial Intelligence AI

Overcoming the challenges of fire safety in the paper industry

AVIOTEC camera with bright digital number (symbolizing articial intelligence) detects warehouse fire

For added risks like combustible materials and high ceilings, fire and smoke detection cameras from Bosch provide faster, more reliable detection than traditional alarm systems.

Paper storage with huge paper rools

Fire safety is more than a precautionary or preventative measure. A fire detection system is a core investment in any company’s most valued asset – its people. Without adequate fire safety for the employees working at a facility, there is no business continuity. Even if, thankfully, no harm comes to personnel during a fire, repairing the damage to the premises and machinery costs time and money. And production often stops entirely.

In particular, the paper and pulp industry poses unique risks for fire safety. The raw materials used for creating paper are highly flammable, as are the chemicals for many of the production processes. Humid production environments and incredibly high ceilings make traditional fire detectors unreliable at best. This is why Bosch offers video-based fire detection to quickly recognize smoke and fire at its source and alert safety teams before the fire has the chance to spread.

“The fear to go to the factory one morning and see that it is reduced to ashes.”
Safety Manager Paper Industry
AVIOTEC camera

Paper mills contain large amounts of wood chips and discarded cardboard which, along with several types of combustible chemicals for the cellulose production process, carry a high fire load. Paper machines also have up to 200 electrical motors with kilometers of high-voltage wires. Such conditions are a hotbed for fires, and once one starts, the fire can spread incredibly quickly.

Unfortunately, paper facilities and warehouses require high, vaulted ceilings where traditional fire detectors are often located. In the event of a fire, it can literally take minutes for smoke to reach the detectors. Add in the huge quantities of water vapor and dust created by the paper machines, and traditional fire detectors might not even register an alarm. By then, the fire has already spread out of control.

AVIOTEC cellulosis production
bales of recycled paper

In addition, outdoor storage areas are almost entirely unprotected, because implementing traditional fire alarms in an open area is nearly impossible. Smoke can easily escape a partially covered structure without setting off an alarm, and traditional systems aren’t even constructed for the outdoors. For instance, storing bales and reels directly outside a paper mill pose a particular risk. These materials are highly flammable, yet they are often stored outside the coverage area of a traditional fire system. Their close proximity to the building means that a fire starting outdoors can quickly spread throughout the facility while the alarm system lags in response time.

AVIOTEC fire and smoke detection cameras with AI algorithms

AVIOTEC camera systems use video-based fire detection to quickly identify smoldering and small fires directly at the source. This means the fire alarm doesn’t have to wait for smoke to physically reach its sensors, thus wasting valuable time before alerting safety teams. Instead, AVIOTEC analyzes live video in real-time. A high vantage point is actually helpful for this form of verification, even in humid, dusty, or outdoor environments.

Cameras can then be adjusted to focus on at-risk pieces of machinery or materials to detect fires as quickly as possible. This reliable option pays off over the long-term, because the systems are easy to maintain and better protected from dust. With the latest in Artificial Intelligence, AVIOTEC cameras also sync well with existing hardware and video management systems, both inside and outside the facilities.

AVIOTEC uses a unique approach to cutting-edge AI alarm detection in combination with hand-crafted algorithms. Monitoring smoke density and analyzing turbulence, color, and motion helps prevent frustrating and costly false alarms, while alerting safety teams to real fire threats more quickly than traditional detectors. AVIOTEC systems can also combine with infrared lighting to detect smoke and flames without the presence of visible light. This is particularly helpful inside large warehouses with high ceilings, high-rise shelves, and small aisles, or in partially covered structures outside the main buildings.

High ceiling warehouse for paper production

Real-world experience with AVIOTEC in paper and pulp

View of Mohn Media production facility

In 2018, one of the world’s largest publishing companies wanted to see for itself just what AVIOTEC could do. “Bertelsmann has been partnering with Bosch for over 35 years, and for good reason,” says Jörg Naumann, Head of Fire Brigade at Mohn Media Mohndruck GmbH, a member of the Bertelsmann Printing Group. The combined safety and security system at their facility in Gütersloh, Germany, has gone through multiple iterations over the years.

Most recently, the system was updated with AVIOTEC video-based fire detection to safeguard the eight-meter-high wastepaper warehouses which store some 300 tons of paper at any given time. “Again and again,” Mr. Naumann says, “we’ve been impressed by the innovative solutions that Bosch comes up for us.”

For one of the latest integrations in Central America, Industria Cartonera Palmar wanted to upgrade fire and safety standards at their corrugated cardboard factory in Machala, Ecuador. IncarPalm provides packaging for many types of food and perishables such as fruit, seafood, and flowers. The cardboard packaging is a vital link in the supply chain of these goods, so any disruption due to fire would pose a huge risk to the company’s ongoing business.

With a three-phased integration, Bosch is helping IncarPalm set up and refine an AVIOTEC camera system to protect raw materials, machinery, and the finished products from fire, eventually in outdoor storage areas as well. “By using cutting-edge technologies that reduce the need for human intervention and facilitate the control of a system,” says Patricio Román, Security Chief at IncarPalm, “there are returns on investment with business continuity and long-term cost savings.”

IncarPalm Paper warehouse with AVIOTEC camera

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