The fire at Ocado’s Andover fulfilment centre was caused by an electrical fault in a battery charging unit that caused the plastic lid on the top of a grocery carrying robot to catch alight, the company has revealed.
Ocado has taken steps to eliminate the risk of such an event occurring again including additional localised smoke detectors and the removal of the plastic lid on its bots.
It said: “This lid serves no practical purpose and its removal has not impacted the efficiency of the bots in any way. The company also intends to add heat sensors in the ambient product storage grid which are in addition to the existing sensors in the chilled storage grid.”
Ocado emphasised that the fault was in a first generation battery charger, which was only used in at the Andover site (CFC 3) and not any other.
The findings are the result of an investigation by the company, its insurers and Hampshire Fire Service.
Ocado is working on plans to provide more CFC capacity including increasing capacity at the Erith site faster than envisaged.
It is currently looking a the optimum solution for replacing Andover, saying it would inform the market of the impact these plans would have on its target for revenue growth of ten to 15 per cent in 2019.