The fire on July 16 at the warehouse of British online grocery company Ocado was caused by the collision of three robots that transport products. It was unfortunate and fortunate that the fire damage caused by the fire did not account for less than 1% of the entire warehouse.
However, it does not make sense for the robot to throw away fire accidents even if the robot replaces the work that has relied on manpower as the top priority for efficiency. Ocado canceled some high-level orders due to the accident. It is estimated that it will take about a week to fully recover.
At the Ocado warehouse, the existing staff found a container with products according to an order from a shelf and turned the goods into pickup and delivery, but in 2018, the job was replaced with a 3,000-carrying robot. Although products are still organized in containers, they are placed in numerous grooves that can hold up to 21 pieces, and a robot runs on a rail wrapped around it like a checkerboard to transport the ordered products to the container.
Although not autonomous as a robot, it travels the optimal route in a vast warehouse according to central instructions, such as air traffic control. Reportedly, the system is optimized for product pick-up that considers grocery freshness and prioritizes first-in, first-out.
The maximum speed of the robot for thorough efficiency is 4m/sec, and when robots running on adjacent rails cross each other, the gap is only 5mm. Therefore, if there is any problem, for example, derailment on the rail or the vehicle is tilted due to damage to the wheel bearings, it will come into contact with a nearby robot.
Thorough efficiency improvement can be said to be life in an online store that judges mass products, but in the event of a problem, it is necessary at least to ensure that measures that will not lead to a fire are necessary. In addition, it seems necessary to assume various problems in facilities where the number of people has decreased due to automation, to devise safety measures, and to properly maintain the procedures. For reference, it is said that robots have already started operating in the Ocado warehouse that caused the fire. Related information can be found here.