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Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)
6

Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

(OP)
I caught the slightest whiff of information about this on another discussion forum.

The comments from the other forum indicated this facility is a highly automated warehouse distribution center with autonomous robots. A fire started, spread quickly with robots moving at rapid speed, and the facility made for robots and not necessarily humans. Apparently despite being heavily sprinklered, the place burned to the ground.

Details I have found are sketchy:
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-47160448
https://www.ifsecglobal.com/fire-news/ocado-blaze-...

Would any of our colleagues from Across The Pond care to provide enlightenment?

TygerDawg
Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering
www.bluetechnik.com

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

I hope there are some security videos yet to be released, showing robots delivering stuff on fire all over the place.

Brad Waybright

It's all okay as long as it's okay.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

I wouldn't be surprised if this incident drives a new standard or series of standards from NFPA regarding facilities or occupancies designed exclusively for robots. Living in the future is fascinating.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

That's an interesting problem. Assuming the sprinkler system worked as intended (as indicated in the articles), I'll be curious to see what the cause of fire was and why it spread so quickly/wasn't suppressed. I wonder if the individual robots have a smoke sensor to detect fire and shutdown to avoid rapidly spreading the fire.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

Names of deceased robots are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Check out Eng-Tips Forum's Policies here:
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

All gave some, some gave all. RIP robots.

----------------------------------------

The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

Since there was obviously a fire detection system, it would seem prudent that all robots in a fire zone would stop motion. I believe that should have been obvious to the designers.

Brad Waybright

It's all okay as long as it's okay.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

Quote (From the Article)

Fortunately nobody was hurt.
Except the robots.

Quote (From the Article)

"One of the pitfalls of a robot-only workplace: they can't smell the smoke when said workplace is on fire," wrote one commenter.
Apparently this warehouse didn't use union robots, who have been fitted with robotic noses...https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/nze7ek/...

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RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

I guess you might not think to tell a robot it shouldn't deliver a package that's on fire...

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

We need to go back to the three laws of robotics.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

Too many eggs in one basket?

Think about all those polyethylene bins melting and burning like diesel fuel and the batteries for the robots. Unless the sprinkler system is using a special extinguishing agent, it isn't likely to do much. The high stack nature of the combustibles would make it difficult to get extinguishing media where it is needed.

700 people lost their jobs & cars aparently. Luckily for Ocado, they opened an even larger 200,000 order facility in the 3rd quarter of last year.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

2
Oh! The machinery...

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

I think the investigation will find there were insufficient exits with the burned robots jam-packed at the few that were available.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

You guys crack me up.


It really would be spectacular to see the video of that evolving disaster.
I wonder if the robots started moving faster in an ant-like frenzy to complete their tasks.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

There's a video on the BBC youtube channel. I assume it's not regional specific. Search for 'Ocado fire Andover'.

www.tynevalleyplastics.co.uk

Politicians like to panic, they need activity. It is their substitute for achievement.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

Thanks PUD! It was fascinating/mesmerizing watching the swarm.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

I worked in a large warehouse once, and the stock and retrieve were all automated.
We built fire resistant partitions in the building so that any incident could be contained.
And our fire suppression was closer to deluge than sprinkler, we handled a lot of flammable stuff.
And our system was tied into the fire detection/suppression system.
If the heat or smoke sensors tripped the machines in that zone simply stopped where they were, and machines in other zones all went 'home'.
This was 40 years ago .....

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, Plymouth Tube

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

Well as someone told me a good few years ago, there hasnt been a system yet , built by man , that hasn't or couldn't fail. Chernoble, Fukishima ,
the Space shuttle should be enough to convince anyone of that idea.

I suspect that with todays technology there probably exists an attitude of " that was then , today we know so much more and our computers say.....",


I suspect there was a complete absence of risk analysis in the design of this plant. and I suspect there wasnt anybody old enough to even ask " What if such and such event occurred?

Old lessons have to be relearned by every generation

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

As someone who has experienced first hand what it's like to be standing in a warehouse, under a sprinkler head when it goes off, and this was in Connecticut in the Winter so the water was ice cold, I can feel for what it must have been like for the robots winky smile

For details as to the circumstances of this event, go to: https://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=427490

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

Maybe the robots did stop, but looking at the videos of the site this could have prevented the sprinklers from accessing the fire under one of the robots. Also the robots worked on complex grid system. Any damage to the robots sensors or blocked lanes would throw it into chaos.

Will be interesting to see if we ever do how they analysed the sprinkler layout taking into account the 1100 moving blocks above combustible material.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

If fire is detected all those robots should've left the building, maybe onto a ramp in the parking lot, to give the fire system a chance and to remove probably several megawatts of battery energy from the evolving calamity.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

Robot arson, perhaps? Similar to a prison riot.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

From this article it appears that many of the robots were still in operation while the fire fighters were trying to extinguish the fire:

Ocado robots at Andover warehouse ‘hampered’ firefighters

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ocado-robots-at...

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

Interesting. In the US the requirements in the International Fire Code addresses this specific issue. The material handling equipment is required to shut down upon sprinkler water flow.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

I'm sure the requirements/standards will go up when the insurance industry decides not to insure unless...blah, blah, blah.. is done.

www.tynevalleyplastics.co.uk

Politicians like to panic, they need activity. It is their substitute for achievement.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

In the US if your equipment does not shut down in a fire then you insurance Co will likely not pay since you wern't complying with the rules.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, Plymouth Tube

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

I read this as “Avocado automated/robotic warehouse fire.” Which made it even funnier to me to think about flaming robots scurrying around with armloads of produce while the building burned around them.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

Quote (RVAmeche)

I wonder if the individual robots have a smoke sensor to detect fire and shutdown...

It seems clear that AI applied to the physical world requires all the usual senses (vision, feel, smell, etc.).

Sooner or later we will being seeing Autonomous Vehicles wandering around, oblivious to the fact that they're on fire....or worse.

I'm not sure that this seemingly rather-obvious conclusion has yet been 'hoisted aboard' by the applicable industries.

RE: Ocado automated/robotic warehouse fire (UK)

And we are getting into autonomous cars. Picture a fire in the Queens Tunnel.

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