AstraZeneca is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The company operates a production site and distribution centre in the English town of Macclesfield, where it has built a new highbay warehouse to increase its logistics capacities. What makes its fire protection solution so special is the fact that the OxyReduct® fire prevention system was preinstalled in a portable container.

WAGNER UK developed a fire protection solution for the customer
AstraZeneca, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

AstraZeneca’s new facility comprises two state-of-the-art packing lines, where tablets and capsules are shrinkwrapped in transparent packaging, and a high-bay warehouse standing 30 metres tall with a capacity for about 11,000 pallets. From here, the company ships its products out to more than 100 countries all over the world.

AstraZeneca was looking for an alternative to conventional sprinkler systems for its fire prevention. Sprinklers soon reach their limits in high-rack storage facilities as they require a great deal of time and effort for installation and there is no guarantee that goods will not be damaged by fire and extinguishing water.

During its search, the company came across WAGNER and the OxyReduct® fire prevention technology. “They first contacted us in September 2015”, recalls Carl Bryan, Managing Director WAGNER UK.

Lowered into place by crane

Construction began on the high-bay warehouse in 2016. Comprising approximately 54,000 m3, the facility is protected by OxyReduct® fire prevention technology from WAGNER. The system permanently lowers oxygen concentration below the ignition threshold of the stored materials and monitors the concentration level to ensure it stays below the threshold, ensuring any fires are prevented from spreading. Two V-Line units efficiently generate the nitrogen required to reduce oxygen content directly from the air in the warehouse.

Installation took place in June 2017. “One particular challenge with this project was that we were unable to install the OxyReduct® system directly inside the building for logistical reasons,” explains Bryan. The system was therefore pre-installed inside a 21-ton container 4 m high, 14 m long and 2.4 m wide, which was then transported to Macclesfield as a heavy load.

“The only way for us to access the installation site was to use a crane to lift the container over several buildings and lower it into place,” states the fire protection expert.

Preventing fires instead of extinguishing them

Scheduled to go into operation this spring, the new high-bay warehouse is optimally protected by OxyReduct®. “It is essential that no fires break out here as the medicines from Macclesfield are required worldwide,” says Bryan. Even the tiniest fire could interrupt the supply chain.

Yet even without considering this aspect, fire prevention in the automated high-bay warehouse is crucially important. “OxyReduct ® protects the people who work at the Macclesfield site, the anti-anxiety medicines stored there and, last but not least, the warehouse itself by minimising fire risk from the outset,” states Bryan. “This is better than fighting fires reactively with sprinklers. Water would damage the stored goods and also affect the actual building.”

The two OxyReduct® V-Line systems needed to be pre-installed and
transported as a heavy load.

A successful partnership

The importance of fire prevention for AstraZeneca is also evident from its collaborative approach to working with WAGNER during construction of the high-bay warehouse. “When working on new-build projects, we usually deal with general contractors who act as intermediaries between ourselves and the customer. This was not the case in Macclesfield”, Bryan is pleased to say. “The general contractor Boulting Environmental Services was naturally our first point of contact on the construction site but AstraZeneca made it clear to us that we could also contact them directly at any time with regard to technical or safety-related matters. All things considered, we worked extremely well together – and a very constructive relationship has now developed between us, Boulting and AstraZeneca.”


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