"People are amazed by the quality of refurbished machines"

Niels Lekkerkerker, Lekkerkerker Dairy & Food Equipment: "People are amazed by the quality of refurbished machines"

In recent years, many companies have increasingly focused on repairing, recycling, and responsibly managing resources. At Lekkerkerker Dairy & Food Equipment, circularity was a core principle even before the company was founded. "Initially, it was to save costs, and later because we became good at it."

"We just got good at refurbishing machines over time"

What circular step have you taken?

“My father built his own dairy factory in the 1980s, using refurbished second-hand machines for products such as butter and yogurt. This factory complemented the small-scale cheese-making operation on his parents' farm—my grandparents. Refurbishing used machines was primarily driven by practicality: if a machine is still good, why buy a new one?

By refurbishing a machine, you not only replace worn or malfunctioning parts with ones that meet the latest standards, but you can also upgrade it in terms of machine safety and food safety. Visually, a refurbished machine looks as good as new: all stainless steel parts can be restored to their original state, and the rest can be repainted.

When an employee from the dairy factory emigrated to New Zealand to start his own cheese factory, he asked my father to supply a refurbished machine. That's how the ball started rolling, and Lekkerkerker Dairy & Food Equipment was born. The food division of Lekkerkerker still exists. It is the only cream cheese factory in the Netherlands that produces cream cheese from fresh milk for the foodservice industry and supermarkets.”

“Visually, a refurbished machine looks as good as new”

What is the biggest gain?

“We haven't precisely calculated the savings in terms of raw materials and emissions with our machines yet, but we plan to do so. So far, there hasn’t been specific demand for this information. Customers are still mainly looking at price-quality ratios and delivery speed. What we do know is that the prices of our machines are 50 to 60 percent of the new price.”

What is the biggest challenge?

“Without a doubt, the labor factor. There is significant competition from low-wage countries, and especially in the past five years, it has become challenging to find well-trained technical personnel in our own country. That’s why we now train people ourselves in collaboration with technical schools in the region.

For the same reason, we have increasingly specialized in machines for margarine and butter production. This allows us to work even more efficiently. At the same time, we continue to offer a wide range of dairy processing and packaging machines.”

What circular steps are planned?

“The introduction of the materials passport will undoubtedly increase the demand for refurbished machines. I would prefer that demand to come primarily from Europe. We currently deliver to fifty countries worldwide, but considering everything happening globally, I would rather stay closer to home. This also saves emissions and transport costs.”

“A focus on Europe saves emissions and transport costs”

Author: Annelies Roon
Source: circulairemaakindustrie.nl