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Tracey Bellamy joined Telgian, known then as TVA Fire and Life Safety, in March 1996 and in 1999 was elected to the board of directors. He currently serves as Telgian’s chief engineering officer.
With over 30 years of experience in the fire protection industry, Bellamy is active within the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and represents Telgian on a number of NFPA technical committees including NFPA 11, 13, 15, 16, 25, 30, 30B, 101, and 5000. He is also a certified instructor with NFPA and teaches nationally and internationally on a variety of fire protection topics.
Bellamy is also a member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) and currently sits on the board of governors of the Greater Atlanta chapter.
A registered professional fire protection and civil engineer, Bellamy is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in civil engineering. In addition, he holds an advanced graduate certificate in fire protection engineering from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 00:01
Fire prevention for our warehouses. What kind of peak season can we expect? And war in the Middle East brings even more supply chain disruptions. Pull up a chair and join us as the editors of DC Velocity discuss these stories, as well as news and supply chain trends, on this week's Logistics Matters podcast.
Hi, I'm Dave Maloney. I'm the group editorial director at DC Velocity. Welcome.
Logistics Matters is sponsored by nVision Global. NVision Global is a leader in global freight management solutions and services, specializing in freight audit and payment, order management, supplier management, visibility, TMS, and freight-spend analytics. Their end-to-end solutions and services enable you to manage your entire global shipment processes within the confines of a single easy-to-use platform. Interested in saving 7 to 12% or more on your freight spend? Check out nVisionGlobal.com.
As usual, our DC Velocity senior editors Ben Ames and Victoria Kickham will be along to provide their insights into the top stories of this week. But to begin today: October is Fire Prevention Month. Most supply chain companies have facilities that they must protect from potential fires and other hazards, but fire codes vary widely from city to city. How can supply chain managers best protect their facilities? To find out, here is Ben with today's guest.
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 01:35
Thank you, Dave. Yeah, driven by increased demand through booming e-commerce for almost instant product delivery, more and more distribution centers around the country have been adding automated storage and retrieval systems. That supports denser storage, faster fulfillment. That's what allows us to get our packages the next day, or two-day delivery. But however cutting edge those robotic systems might be, those AS/RS systems are not without the potential for fire hazard. That's especially true because many DCs today hold an ever-wider array or a mix of new commodities on those shelves. Here to talk about the importance of determining the appropriate hazards and commodity classifications for stored items and to help protect from fire danger is our guest this week. He is Tracey Bellamy, the chief engineering officer at Telgian, engineering and consulting. Welcome, Tracey.
Tracey Bellamy, Chief Engineering Officer, Telgian Engineering & Consulting 02:32
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 02:33
Tracey, to start us off, for our listeners who might not be familiar with Telgian, could you just give a quick elevator pitch about what the company does and how it fits into the logistics ecosystem?
Tracey Bellamy, Chief Engineering Officer, Telgian Engineering & Consulting 02:43
Sure, I can do that. Where I've worked with Telgian Engineering and Consulting, a fire-protection engineering and consulting company who is heavily engaged in the warehousing industry, or fire protection for that, and I think where we do our best work here is working as an ally with the facility operators to try to understand the complex fire-protection requirements that are associated with those facilities and allow them to get the appropriate protection at the best cost out there.
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 03:18
Gotcha. Thank you. In our discussions before we started talking here, one of the interesting points that you made is that the rapid growth that we've seen in automated storage and retrieval systems, or AS/RS, has outpaced some of the legacy fire-protection standards that are actually based on conventional storage and retrieval practices. Could you explain that a little more?
Tracey Bellamy, Chief Engineering Officer, Telgian Engineering & Consulting 03:41
You know, our legacy fire-protection requirements for sprinklers come from NFPA 13. It's the most prevalent worldwide standard for sprinkler protection, and the protection that was developed was probably 50 years ago. Fire tests were run to evaluate what was needed to protect those facilities. And then, at that time, it was palletized loads, a four-by-four cubed palletized load of product with nice loose spaces between those, limited storage heights, that sort of thing, and today, when we look at the warehousing industry and AS/RS, or automated storage and retrieval systems, we don't have that arrangement anymore. We have very limited available fluid spaces, much significant increase in the surface area, burning surface area of materials being stored in very small or much smaller units out there, in terms of totes and things like that, so the fire hazard has changed dramatically with respect to what we're trying to protect. I tend to explain this kind of in a logical way from, about a recipe. We all know how to prepare something from a recipe, and if we change the ingredients or change the cooking method, we don't get the same thing, and that's what's happening with our storage facilities out there. We're doing things significantly differently than we did before, and many are trying to take our legacy standards, NFPA 13, and try to shoehorn the facility or the arrangement into that standard, and come out with some protection that just does not fitwith what we're doing out there.
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 05:27
Yeah, that makes sense. Of course, we've seen a lot of other new automation, changes in practices in the warehouse. Do other types of more modern warehouse automation than AS/RS likewise, present a changing fire challenge?
Tracey Bellamy, Chief Engineering Officer, Telgian Engineering & Consulting 05:42
You know, when we look at the arrangement, we have to try to look at it against what was originally tested, those palletized loads. There are some automated facilities, more modern facilities, the material handling that's associated with that is very similar to what was done previously in [the] palletized loads, though. We have to make some of those decisions, logical decisions, does this fit or does it not? So, I think there are opportunities for protection with conventional methods of protection associated with NFPA 13 in those circumstances, but much more of our world now is about not delivering palletized loads of product, but individual items, so we're seeing much, much more small-load or miniload top-loading-type systems that are out there. And many of our systems are changing even beyond what we know today is common. I think the material handling folks are coming up with more ingenious, efficient methods to try and store more product, deliver faster speeds and things like that, so we're constantly in a state of catchup here, trying to catch up with the industry.
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 07:03
Are some of these issues also affected by the specific types of inventory that are stored, either on those pallets that we're describing or in the AS/RS, and has that been changing over the years?
Tracey Bellamy, Chief Engineering Officer, Telgian Engineering & Consulting 07:15
You know, over the years, I think one of the things that has changed our industry dramatically is the introduction of plastics and synthetic materials. When we look at a plastic, we refer to Group A plastics, typically. It's a variety of plastics that react similar to a hydrocarbon. They're a very high rate of heat released material. That doesn't just include the materials that we have, though, it also includes the containers that we use to store these. We're starting to see many, many of these facilities operate with plastic containers, and as we see that we increase the fuel load. Even though we may be storing a metal products, they'll be stored in a plastic container. The fire is going to see, the plastic container adds to hazard. Additionally, a lot of our products, like I say, used to be that most materials were of ordinary combustibles, cotton batting and pillows and things like that. Now everything is a foam plastic that has significantly increased the fire [lanes?] in here, and sometimes we see facilities that were purpose-built for a particular item that might have once been made out of ordinary combustible materials, you know, wood, paper-type, things like that, and now it's going to include plastics, and we just don't go back and take a look at that. So, we've got a large number of facilities that were never designed for plastics, and we slowly introduce that and sometimes don't recognize that we are, in fact, increasing the hazard, and increasing it dramatically.
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 08:58
Really interesting. Given the profile of that challenge, can you share what some of the best practices are for fire protection and prevention — I guess prevention in the first place, and then protection in case it starts?
Tracey Bellamy, Chief Engineering Officer, Telgian Engineering & Consulting 09:11
Well, I think, certainly, one of the first things that I think we need to do from a facility standpoint is recognize what the hazard is we have. So many times as I get involved in a project, I ask, you know, purposely ask, what is it that you intend to store here, and many times, the answer that I get back is "Stuff, we store stuff." And of course, that doesn't provide much insight, so I dig a little further and say, "Well, what types of stuff, and it's, usually the answer I get back is "Well, just regular stuff." And it's almost very difficult to get get down to that. I think, as the user, most folks understand their product in terms of what it is but don't understand how to tell me what that hazard is. It's similar to, you know, going to the, for me, going to the doctor and, or going to the hospital and having chest pains and deciding not to tell them I have chest pains so that they can properly treat me. We have to try to dig in deeply to figure out, you know, what is the hazard that we have here in the facility? And not just today, but what about longevity for the facility? Many times, you may have a facility that is purpose-built for a particular use today, but might that change? And I think that's one of the biggest problems that I face is trying to determine or extract enough information to feel comfortable that we have the true hazard associated with the facility. And then, of course, you don't realize you've done that until you have a problem,, and then there's disastrous results out there. But that is probably one of the most difficult things that we need to do. And then once we figured out that hazard, we need to determine what is the appropriate protection. I mentioned, you know, we've outpaced our legacy standards, NFPA 13, and there's certainly criteria out there for AS/RS for, from from the insurance industry, Factory Mutual. FTM Data Sheet 8-34 provides criteria. But even then, I think we're outpacing that. I think one of the things that we really wanted to try to delve into more deeply is truly understanding what the hazard is, not just from reading the standard and looking at, understanding how to protect that, whether it be NFPA 13, or the FM datasheet, but running large-scale fire tests. That's one of the places we found there is a real desire to understand what it is I'm facing in terms of risk here, and the best way to do that is conducting large-scale fire tests. In fact, I think we've, I've got one currently going on, probably about to light that now up at Underwriters Laboratory to truly understand what the hazard is and then purpose-design your protection to fit that, and not overprotect it, not underprotect it. I think there's a[n] efficiency thing here in terms of value, and I think that's one of the things that we try to push to get is purpose-designed protection to fit the hazard without overspending, the most economical with that.
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 12:32
That makes a lot of sense, and I think this topic is one that's relevant to so many of our listeners here who operate warehouses. Tracey, thank you very much for joining us today. Our guest this week has been Tracey Bellamy from Telgian Engineering and Consulting. Back to you, Dave.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 12:51
Thank you, Tracey and Ben. Now let's take a look at some of the other supply chain news from the week, and Victoria, you wrote this week that many retailers are feeling quite optimistic about the holiday season that will soon start. Can you share the details?
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 13:07
Absolutely, Dave. Yeah, so we've been talking a lot about the upcoming peak season recently, and what to expect given the current state of the economy, especially continued high inflation and rising energy prices and things like that. But despite those challenges, a recent survey shows that most small and mid-sized businesses — retailers and others selling products and services — as you mentioned are optimistic about the holiday shopping season this year. Shipping and logistics company DHL surveyed more than 800 business leaders about this, and they found that most are upbeat, with many saying that they expect strong online sales this year in particular. Some of the key takeaways from the company's 2023 Holiday Survey include: most companies started preparing for holiday peak earlier this year than they did last year, with most saying they began their preparations in the second quarter. Most expect online sales to surpass or equal last year's volumes, and many say they will look to expand their global reach in order to ensure a successful holiday peak, and they'll do that by reaching out to new end markets around the world as well as working with more international suppliers, according to the survey.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 14:16
Victoria, you also mentioned some challenges. What are companies most concerned about?
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 14:22
The biggest concerns are delays and inflation, in that order. About a third of respondents pointed to supply chain delays and disruptions as their biggest fear this holiday season, and about a quarter pointed to inflation. But the survey also found that concerns over both of those issues have eased compared to last year, so that's a plus. I should also note that the results of this survey were released prior to the terrorist attacks in Israel last weekend, so any delays or disruptions that may occur as a result of the ensuing war there could change the outlook altogether. We'll have to wait and see how all of that plays out.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 14:59
Yeah, we certainly will. Thank you, Victoria.
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 15:02
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 15:03
And Ben, to add to what Victoria was just talking about, it has been a busy week in geopolitical terms, and also problems for the supply chain as a result. What more can you tell us?
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 15:14
It's true. It's been a really tough week, especially as we head down this final stretch heading into peak season, when there's, of course, a lot more flowing around the world than usual, but just, there's been really difficult, tragic disruption going on. The the violence in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, has been, of course, at the top of that list. You know, outright violence makes it, of course, impossible to keep logistics channels flowing as they usually do, and, you know, particularly in that region, in the Middle East, you know, those needs at the same time have never been higher, especially for critical goods for people who live there — food and medicine and the rest of it. The conflict in Israel is very new, of course, just within the past week, so the early impacts that we've seen in a logistics sense have included things like a lot of cancelled airline flights for both passenger and freight planes. Several maritime ports, as well, in Israel are running under emergency conditions so that things are moving much more slowly than they typically would — part for security checks, for going through with a fine-tooth comb all the cargo that's moving in and out. And then there's also impact at facilities located on the ground in the area, particularly like factories and manufacturing sites. Many of those are simply closed since there's a military zone, and currently today an evacuation of certain areas, and that requires a lot of citizens, as I said, to either evacuate or to shelter in place, and that means they can't be presented to, you know, work at a factory or manufacturing site. Everstream Analytics is a supply chain risk-analysis company, and they highlighted medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and chemical supplies as three of the main industries that could see disrupted production from the area, but again, I have to repeat, it's very early in the conflicts, so we haven't yet seen extreme effects from those closures yet.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 17:17
Yeah. Well, violence like we've seen this week is always tragic, wherever it happens, and we'll of course, be tracking those events as they move on. But you were also covering some logistics disruptions here in the U.S. Can you tell us more about that?
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 17:33
Yeah, it's never easy, is it, right? And, thankfully, this this one has nothing to do with violence, but it could actually have a lot wider-ranging business impacts. We're talking now about the U.S. House of Representatives, which is basically frozen in place at the moment because it lacks a Speaker of the House after its members had voted to dismiss the previous speaker, Kevin McCarthy. So, without a speaker, the house can't do the business of governing. This could actually begin to have an impact on global events, because Congress, of course, approves the nation's spending. That could include ongoing aid packages for the border or, you know, in Ukraine with Russia, and moving forward, perhaps no aid for Israel. In addition, there are dozens of bills that are now stuck in the mud that had been progressing in their way through the house. And, for example, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association — that's a trade group that represents less-than-truckload carriers — said it was tracking a number of bills that are important for the trucking sector that are now frozen. They include legislation to provide, for example, more truck parking spots — that's an ongoing issue; to streamline the process of earning a commercial driver's license — that's CDL; and another one would roll back certain taxes on heavy trucks and trailers. So, again, those are not life-or-death issues, but the more time that passes, there could be some potentially important changes in the logistics sector.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 19:03
Right, and it may be some time before we see any movement on that legislation. We'll of course, keep a watch on those developments. Thanks, Ben.
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 19:11
We will. Yep. Yep, glad to.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 19:13
We encourage listeners to go to DCVelocity.com for more on these and other supply chain stories. Also, check out the podcast Notes section for some direct links to read more about the topics that we discussed today.
We'd like to thank Tracey Bellamy from Telgian for being our guest. We welcome your comments on this topic and our other stories. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also encourage you to subscribe to Logistics Matters at your favorite podcast platform. Our new episodes are uploaded on Fridays.
Speaking of subscribing, check out our sister podcast series Supply Chain in the Fast Lane. It's coproduced by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and Supply Chain Quarterly. search for "Supply Chain in the Fast Lane" wherever you get your podcasts.
And a reminder that Logistics Matters is sponsored by nVision Global. NVision Global is a leader in global freight management solutions and services, specializing in freight audit and payment, order management, supplier management, visibility, TMS, and freight-spend analytics. Their end-to-end solutions and services enable you to manage your entire global shipment processes within the confines of a single easy-to-use platform. Interested in saving 7 to 12% or more on your freight spend? Then check out nVisionGlobal.com.
We'll be back again next week with another edition of Logistics Matters. Be sure to join us. Until then, have a great week.