Sicurezza Polo Logistico

Safety at a logistics hub

19 August 2019

Protecting a logistics hub

Companies that design and manage complex logistics structures, such as AKNO, which has been involved in industrial construction for more than forty years and builds cutting-edge business parks, are well aware that a logistics hub, whatever its size, is a crossroads of people and goods that must be carefully protected with respect to gate security and the risk of fire.

By its very nature, large quantities of goods pass through a logistics hub, but it should also be remembered that these goods are be transported by different workers whose identification, together with that of the goods they carry, must be done on a case-by-case basis.

In addition, the storage of a large quantity of different types of goods in a logistics hub makes it very difficult to achieve a good level of fire protection. In fact, during the design phase, it is not possible to predict which substances will be stored in the prearranged spaces and therefore it is necessary to operate with even greater caution in full compliance with the regulations in force and with a surplus of technical expertise.

Therefore, protecting access gates and goods from fire risk are two tasks that cannot be neglected in a logistics park. They involve the design and implementation of infrastructure and systems, as well as their subsequent management and maintenance.

In both these areas, AKNO can boast many years of experience and so it can offer technical and organisational solutions capable of protecting people and goods in the best possible way within a logistics hub or, using a different terminology, a business park.

 

Protecting access gates in a business park

As we have mentioned, a logistics hub is, by its very nature, a place where people and goods constantly enter and leave. Moreover, since they are often facilities that several companies share, rent their spaces and often receive goods through hauliers who sometimes work for several specialised companies, it is clear that it is very complicated to manage a flow that is difficult to standardise in terms of quantity and variety.

Without doubt, the identification of who is entering and leaving the logistics park and what goods are being transported is one of the essential tasks that must be carried out by the facilities of the logistics hub. However, to achieve good results, as we have said, we need both a targeted building design and careful management of the surveillance services.

To achieve these objectives, AKNO’s business parks are designed as fully enclosed logistics hubs with a single access gate. This type of design, which we see for example in the AKNO Broni Business Park, which was recently acquired by the global investment giant Invesco Real Estate, makes it possible to rationalise surveillance operations in a profitable way.

AKNO’s experience and theoretical studies by its experts confirm that the flow of goods in facilities such as a logistics hub is distributed over a period of time that tends to cover 24 hours in a more uniform way than other similar situations. This means that having only one access does not substantially slow down the entry or exit of vehicles, but instead allows round-the-clock surveillance at an acceptable cost.

 

Fire protection systems in logistics hubs

The individual characteristics of the spaces dedicated to the storage and handling of goods in a logistics park oblige the designer to create a particularly high-performance fire protection system.

Given that, in accordance with the law, the most dangerous substances such as liquid and gaseous fuels or explosives must be stored in specially designed structures, it is however tricky to assess the fire load of a building destined for general logistical requirements.

The fire load is calculated on the basis of the heat that can develop following the complete combustion of all the combustible materials present in a certain area and the volume or area of the space in which they are stored.

The versatility of the buildings that make up a logistics park, however, makes it possible to adapt the spaces in many different ways, using vertical partitions and mezzanines which greatly facilitate the organisational flexibility of the companies present, but makes it more difficult to ensure effective fire protection.

Moreover, the quantity and nature of the stored materials are unknown at the time of design and are in any case destined to change over time, making it impossible to calculate the precise fire load.

 

AKNO’s technical solutions

Undoubtedly the responsibility for fire safety falls to the individual companies that rent the space, but AKNO equips its business parks with ESFR (Early Suppression Fast Response) automated sprinkler systems to facilitate more effective management of the problem.

Using a thermosensitive element, these devices can activate rapidly after a rise in temperature and their setting, usually between 57°C and 77°C, makes them effective in acting in the first moments of a developing fire. Once activated, ESFR sprinklers distribute a pre-determined water flow over a variable area depending on the design features.

In addition to ESFR sprinklers, the logistics hubs built by AKNO are also equipped with smoke detectors and other REI 120 certified devices, which guarantee structural integrity for two hours, limiting the spread of fumes and slowing down the transmission of heat generated by a fire to other parts of the building.

Finally, another key element to ensure effective fire protection should be mentioned: namely maintenance management. In order for a fire detection and extinguishing system to be always in full working order, it is naturally necessary to ensure that all the elements that compose it are properly maintained.

Therefore, in addition to designing and building logistics hubs and business parks with attention to safety and environmental protection, AKNO also deals with the management of real estate assets and individual structures to ensure maximum efficiency at an affordable cost.