Summary of Innovation

Flexcon’s patent pending ASRS fast draining tote acts as a sprinkler head and saves over 4 million dollars in fire suppression costs per facility. Fire suppression systems are essential for safety in large distribution centers, but the water they disperse in the event of a fire can fill totes and weigh the automated systems down to the point of collapse, posing danger to personnel and equipment. Conventional totes may have holes in them to drain the water to prevent failure, but drain hole locations in prior designs have been random and usually haven’t performed well enough to serve their purpose properly because the totes actually impede the distribution of the fire-suppressing water.

During the design phase for a highly automated distribution center for one of Invata Intralogistics’ clients, fire suppression consultants determined that more than 56,000 sprinkler heads and larger capacity piping had to be added to the existing building to accommodate FM Global’s fire suppression code for the new facility. The cost and the complexity of this requirement were seen to be prohibitive.

Engineers from Invata Intralogistics proposed to Flexcon Container Corporation that the extra cost of additional fire suppression equipment and the other issues could be avoided if Flexcon could design totes that would enable water to drain from them at an accelerated rate and channel the water in the way that additional sprinkler heads would. Their goal was for 32% of the bottom half-inch of the totes to have openings that would act like sprinklers without weakening the totes in any way.

The challenges to developing such a tote design were significant. The primary purposes of the totes are to contain and protect the products to be stored and retrieved and to function as integral components of the ASRS system. The totes had to be strong enough to contain and protect the products and to withstand years of use in a demanding automated environment. It was thought that adding dozens of drain holes to each tote to act like sprinklers and drain water quickly to meet their requirements might weaken the totes excessively.

Designers and engineers from Flexcon took on these challenges and created a new tote bottom design and mold-making technique that enabled them to add pairs of strengthening ribs around each of the drain holes and keep the holes below the “skirt” of the tote to enable the tote to retain its durability, work with robotics and also direct water out of the system as quickly as a sprinkler head would. Drain holes were strategically placed so as to not interfere with the system’s lasers or the automation and in such a way that product would not fall out of the totes. The end result was that the tote was approved for use, the client achieved a multi-million-dollar cost saving in fire suppression equipment for this and other facilities and adopted a tote design that could work for almost any facility. The totes more than paid for themselves in fire suppression equipment cost. To see an article written by Gary Forger about this tote, please copy this URL & paste it into your browser:

Innovation Statement

Flexcon’s patent pending ASRS tote saves clients millions of dollars per facility by drastically reducing the amount of fire suppression equipment needed. This is achieved by designing a tote that acts like a sprinkler head in draining and spreading water. This innovation adds a feature to robust ASRS Totes that dramatically enhances the effectiveness of existing fire suppression systems in major distribution centers at no additional cost. These totes have all of the attributes and perform all of the functions required of totes by highly automated robotic storage and retrieval systems while saving clients millions of dollars and months of construction time. Multiple patent applications are currently pending on this innovation.


The Flexcon sprinkler tote can be used in virtually any facility that is looking for a way to substantially reduce fire suppression cost


Posted Date1/01/23
ContactKen Beckerman
Contact Email
CategoryBest Innovation of an Existing Product

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Submitted by Flexcon Container.

Booth(s): S1822