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Bosch Security and Safety Systems I North America
Artificial Intelligence AI

Overcoming the challenges of fire safety in the warehouse and logistics industry

AVIOTEC detecting a fire threat in a warehouse

Keeping warehouses and depots well protected from fire is crucial for safety, and business continuity. Swift recognition of flames and smoke is vital. An intelligent video-based fire detection solution monitors stock around the clock.

The purpose of a warehouse ranges from being a storage facility for supplies, materials, and equipment, or a depot for frequently changing batches of packages or products prior to delivery to end-customers. The contents within these structures are therefore business assets which are either of high-value, or costly in the sense that any damage or failure to deliver them could incur insurance or compensation payments. Besides this, the premises themselves are valuable as key storage or distribution points. Any operational downtime or suspended access to these buildings has a massive impact on the success, even survival, of businesses which promise prompt service for their customers.

warehouse with high shelves and a forklift in the aisle
"Inside our automatic warehouse the charging stations for the robots need additional fire monitoring because it’s the biggest fire source in our warehouse."
Head of Safety Management of a renowned online retailer
Two men walking between storage shelves packed with goods

Some challenges to fire safety are unique to warehouses and logistics depots. Packaging often comprises paper and cardboard, plus adhesives. Together they can make the perfect kindling material. Especially when sources of heat, for instance, sunlight or electrical equipment, come into contact with them. Stock on the shelves, especially for parcel delivery services or online shops, can change frequently – and this means the items contained within them also change. Anything inside a package, from flammable textiles like polyester, to perfumes containing alcohol, or battery-operated toys, might seem harmless as single items, but if a fire were to break out, each would accelerate the spread of flames. It’s hard for safety managers to keep an eye on what’s exactly stored on site, and therefore the precise fire risk, at any one time.

A logistics depot or warehouse is a buzzing hive of activity: Goods in, goods out; forklift trucks or robots are in constant movement on the floor to pick up items or place them on shelves. This creates risks of collisions between machinery or with shelving, with the potential to ignite or combust. Items on higher shelves could also fall on impact. Not only does this put personnel in danger, but business continuity could be halted within minutes of a fire taking hold in a building full of goods that customers are waiting for. High ceilings in warehouses make smoke detection difficult using classic fire detectors – they rely on smoke reaching to where they are installed. If a fire breaks out on the floor or lower shelving, devastation could occur well before any alarms sound. Sprinkler systems are often installed in spacious areas, but, although they protect the exterior building, valuable assets under its roof could become water-damaged and deemed unfit for purpose or delivery.

Fire alarm in a warehouse full with shelves and goods
AVIOTEC monitoring a warehouse in darkness

Outdoor storage shelters used as an extension of main buildings are even more challenging. They are constantly vulnerable to arson and vandalism, plus their open structure makes smoke detectors unusable. Wind tunnels created by high-stacked shelves with gaps in-between intensify this issue further. In addition, materials stored outside could be flammable or combustible. Delivery vehicles, full of fuel and ready to transport goods, are often parked on the premises, creating further hazards. Yet an outdoor area is often not protected against fire at all. Security cameras might be installed to monitor criminal activity but not fires, and they often produce grainy visuals at night. A more sophisticated and reliable system is needed to swiftly detect flames or smoke, in both daylight and darkness.

AVIOTEC monitors warehouses and depots day and night, indoors and outdoors

A unique approach of artificial intelligence (AI) and physical algorithms are the - technology behind Bosch AVIOTEC video-based fire detection. Even outdoors at night or in low-light conditions, such as narrow dark aisles, do not pose a challenge to AVIOTEC thanks to its sensitivity of 2 lux. Additional infrared lighting ensures the same detection reliability even in complete darkness. Housing around AVIOTEC cameras protect them from dust and humidity.

The implemented algorithms are tailored for many situations, including on-site activity, and moving equipment. Forklifts and robots, or delivery staff loading up vehicles, therefore, would be recognized as no safety risk by the system, unless they are smoldering or in flames themselves. Instant analysis of this visual data generates prompt alerts for relevant teams in case of fire. False alarms are very rare due to the precision of the technology.

Another huge advantage is that AVIOTEC can be added to existing video management systems, thus creating a double benefit of security and fire monitoring in real time.

AVIOTEC monitoring a sheltered outdoor depot of palletts

Real-world experience of AVIOTEC in depots and warehouses

Warehouse with mattresses at Mouka Manufacturer

Mouka Ltd in Nigeria is a manufacturer producing foam-based mattresses across three separate production facilities. The on-site chemical process involved to produce the foam material is heat intensive. Warehouses serve as storage for the foam blocks and other quality textiles for their products, as well as distribution depots before delivery to their end customers. To adhere to high safety standards in Nigeria, and for cost efficiency regarding insurance for each of their premises, fire detection had to be rapid and robust. AVIOTEC cameras were installed across all Mouka sites and provide smoke and flame detection within 30 seconds. This means any alerts and necessary evacuation, or fire service intervention occur much faster than with any other system. The company’s needs for both safety and cost-efficiency were both fully met with AVIOTEC.

Richetti SpA in Italy pride themselves on their reliable customer service as a co-packer company for fingerfoods. Unfortunately, Richetti learned the hard way of the importance of fire monitoring measures on their facilities after a large fire destroyed one of their premises. After this event, they reached out to Bosch for a solution for their specific needs. Now, not only do they have several AVIOTEC cameras keeping watch at their lively production plants. Their warehouse, storing large stacks of cardboard, is also covered by the AI-driven technology. They will be instantly alerted to any sign of flames or smoke, to avoid having to relive the devastation from several years ago.

Little boy eating fries from Richetti food
Incarpalm factory warehouse with huge paper rolls

In Ecuador, the company IncarPalm produce corrugated cardboard packaging to deliver delicate products such as bananas and flowers to end-customers. Naturally, this means their premises store large volumes of flammable paper-based materials. They are covering their sites, both indoors and outside with an ongoing roll-out of AVIOTEC cameras to keep their staff, buildings, and raw material stocks safe from damage. They know that just one fire on any of their sites would create downtime or, worse, devastation, with a negative impact on their entire business. 24/7 vigilance by AVIOTEC helps guard them against this risk, with customized monitoring settings and rapid alerts without false alarms.

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