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Ocado cancels orders after Erith distribution centre fire

Ocado warehouse fire

Ocado has been forced to reschedule a number of customer orders after it was hit by another distribution centre fire, this time at its warehouse in Erith.

The fire took place outside the building in a hopper containing waste packaging, with no material handling equipment being involved.

Ocado was forced to evacuate the building, meaning that picking was disrupted and some orders were cancelled, with affected customers offered a rebooking for the following day.

In a statement Ocado said its fire suppression measures had functioned effectively, preventing the fire from spreading.

The news follows a fire in February at Ocado’s Andover facility which cost the company £110 million. Andover had been providing around 10% of Ocado’s total capacity.

The retailer said that a specific type of battery charging on the robotic grid had caused the plastic lid on a robot to catch fire.

Ocado said it had undertaken a number of safety measures to prevent another fire, including removing the plastic lid and introducing localised smoke detectors. In the future, the grocer will also add heat sensors in the storage grid.

The retailer has had to launch a redundancy consultation and has altered its agreement with supermarket Morrisons to allow it to use more of its own warehouse space at Erith.

UPDATE: Ocado is hoping to make use of its damaged Andover site to support other services, according to documents filed with local authorities.

The filing with Test Valley Borough Council asks for planning permission to construct a temporary modular docking unit. It also asks to use an existing vehicle wash as temporary storage and to build temporary staff facilities and offices on the site.