Lactalis: Creative renovation during food production

Blog > Renovate while producing

Renovate while producing

Be creative, be bold and skilled!

Smart solutions exist for more sustainable maintenance of outdated production areas. The question is which one is right for your food company? And which one offers the best long-term results? Lactalis found the answer for the renovation of the Leerdammer cheese production areas at HAP.

“If you are going to renovate, you have to have a high dose of boldness. The risk of deterioration in the food industry is high, no production time should be wasted, food safety should not be compromised and safe execution is a requirement. Therefore, you need to not only think about how to approach a renovation, but also dare to take the plunge. Over the years I have gained a lot of experience and learned from my mistakes. That’s when you will know how to choose the right solution.”

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    Speaking is René de Bruijn, project manager at Lactalis in Dalfsen, the Leerdammer cheese production site. Every day, 1.1 million liters of milk are processed here; 10,000 cheeses roll off the conveyor belt to be sliced at another location. The factory is fully automated. Depending on the quality of the milk supplied, Lactalis knows exactly which buttons to push in order to guarantee constant quality.

    Sustainable renovation

    René explains that the production areas must be cleaned and maintained according to the required hygiene standards. “This continuously remains a challenging and costly process for us because the site was built in the 1990s with high rooms and an open steel structure. Painting maintenance is necessary every other year to prevent corrosion.” The management asked him to look into the possibility of creating more durable and easier-to-maintain production areas. He found an answer in covering the steel structure with Glasbord®. These are easy-to-clean panels made of fiberglass-reinforced polyester. Through research on the web, he came across Jels Berkers of HAP (Hygienic Afbouw Projecten) in Beek en Donk, via Hydewa, importer of Glasbord®.

    Detailed request

    René’s request was not an ordinary one. “I am well aware that this is where the process begins, our request determines the solution and the pricing. Along with the buyer, I provided specific details of our request to several Glasbord® suppliers, which allowed us to compare the price quotes like ‘apples to apples.’ We specified what we expect from them, what end result we want, what operating conditions are involved and that we use highly corrosive cleaners from Ecolab.”

    Specialist project

    After the application, HAP was awarded the contract. Owner Jels was delighted: “I recognized the problems at Lactalis. Renovation requires specialized know-how, and that is what we have at hand. We think along about the result as well as the execution. The downtime in a factory has to be minimal to justify the cost of renovation. The challenge here was to cover the steel construction without creating gaps. The whole thing had to be liquid-tight.”

    René: “We kept the sealing risk in-house. Steigerbouw Yellow installed the scaffolding for us. The workspace was sealed off from the production area with tarpaulins and pressurized to prevent any contamination towards production. Through a separate access in the outer wall, we brought the hygienic panels directly inside, without coming close to the production. The entire installation was realized during production, without incident, a joint achievement of supplier and customer.”

    The result

    Meanwhile, HAP has carried out the renovation of the first 200 m2 in the most high-risk area of the plant, because this is where the “naked” cheeses (facing upwards) are. In this area, the steel structure was carefully covered with Glasbord® and the corners and edges were finished with two-component sealant and stainless steel corner profiles. Although the appearance is beautiful, René and Jels agree that next time they would like to use a white, plastic finish rather than stainless steel. The impact-resistant stainless steel finish was done as agreed, but not necessarily necessary at the top. A completely white ceiling is more aesthetically pleasing. This was the first step in the hygienic finishing of the existing production areas; at the end of 2023 there will be a project evaluation and discussion of the next steps.

    A learning partnership

    Jels and René look back on this first phase with pleasure. René: “The guys from HAP know what they are doing, without a whimper they installed the Glasbord®, despite the heat and the small working space. I appreciate their commitment and craftsmanship. Hats off to them.” Jels confirms the pleasant cooperation, “With René’s knowledge and experience, we were able to determine and execute the project together in detail.” René is delighted with the result: “”This is pretty cool, right! It’s a beautiful visual project that benefits everyone. And we have gained valuable experience for the next step.”

    Bron: Vakablad Voedingsindustrie 2023
    Auteur: Esther van der Lelie
    Foto’s: ©Koos Groenewold

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