Van der Lee Seafish Switches to Bauer AsepticDrivesTM to Reduce Costs and Improve Productivity
Every week approximately 250 tons of fresh fish is sorted, filleted, breaded, frozen, packaged and shipped from the Van der Lee Seafish facility in Urk, Netherlands. The leading international fish supplier’s operation requires a large number of machines, conveyors, motors and other components which need to perform in extreme temperatures, as low as -45 ̊F (-43°C).
“Our frozen products are fresher than fresh fish available in stores,” says Willem Van der Lee, technical director at Van der Lee Seafish. He explains, “After the catch, the fish is processed and frozen as quickly as possible.
This ensures that when the consumer thaws the fish, it’s as fresh as it was immediately after the catch.”
Van der Lee knows what he is talking about. He grew up in the fish industry while working in the family business. “We listen very carefully to our customers. If they have a specific concern or request, we make the necessary adjustments so we can deliver product to meet or exceed their expectations. With us, quality always comes first – we never have problems with customer additives – in addition, we’re very flexible.”
Fewer Parts, Reduced Costs, Increased Productivity
The company’s growth and new product development require continuous adjustments and improvements on its production lines. “At any given moment we have four machines and conveyor systems using a variety of motors,” says Van der Lee. “All of these different motors require us to have spare parts on the shelf. Plus, our plant maintenance engineers have to be knowledgeable about all of the different motor types.”
The Bauer gear motors work well at minus 43°C.
The company wanted to standardize the motors on its production lines to use as few models as possible, leading to a more manageable inventory, faster maintenance and less production downtime.
“Bram Oostenbrug of Itsme Industrial Automation advised us about incorporating a unique concept in which a common motor drive can be used universally throughout the factory,” says Van der Lee. “Bauer Gear aseptic permanent magnet synchronous motors (PMSMs) were selected for our facility due to their ability to perform in extreme temperature and washdown environments.”
Bauer Aseptic PMSMs... Specially-Designed for the Food Industry
Willem Van der Lee (Van der Lee Seafish) standing near installed Bauer PMSM AsepticDriveTM.
The Story of Van der Lee Seafish
In 1973, Teun Van der Lee started selling fish from his old tricycle in Urk, Netherlands and surrounding areas. Today, Van der Lee Seafish processes flatfish from the North Sea, roundfish and fish from China, Russia and Africa. Van der Lee primarily supplies fish wholesalers in Europe and has also developed a number of retail products such as fish fingers, cod, gourmets, salmon steaks and fish and chips. Two of Teun’s sons are
now part of the company’s management team – Gijs Van der Lee, as CFO, and Willem Van der Lee, technical director.
The Van der Lee team immediately saw the multi-use benefits of
the aseptic Bauer gear motors which are ideally suited for food industry applications. The fish processing company chose a motor type with different control areas. “The motors are completely interchangeable. Problems are quickly resolved since one motor can be quickly replaced with another,” says Van der Lee. “They could even withstand the extreme cold in our freezers. Moreover, the motors are small, aseptic and even look very hygienic, which is impressive since we get regular factory visits from clients.”
Rob Hoff, sales engineer at Bauer Gear Motor, says, “The food industry places special demands on mechanical components. This new generation of [Bauer AsepticDriveTM] PMSMs are designed to meet these challenges. The motors have smooth surfaces and no cooling fins with corners or holes where bacteria can collect.”
“Food grade (edible) oil is used in the motors and high- pressure cleaning won’t damage the paint coating,” Hoff adds. “The motors fit anywhere, consume less energy and meet
the IE4 class standard. Any food contamination is highly visible on the white surfaces. A stainless steel model is in development.”
Inventory Management Made Easy
Itsme Industrial Automation advised Van der Lee on appropriate frequency converters when the first motors were delivered at the end of 2013. According to Oostenbrug, “The motors use permanent magnet technology and cannot be controlled by frequency controllers, so I advised Van der Lee to apply Danfoss VSD controls. The efficiency of the Bauer permanent magnetic motors meets the IE4 requirement. A superior energy efficient solution is achieved by combining the PMSMs with the Danfoss VSD modular controllers.”
Van der Lee now has many Bauer gear motors running throughout their plant and Van der Lee is very satisfied with the results. He explained, “They look and work great. ES Electro (a division of Itsme) manages the stocking of spare parts for us. That saves us time and money.”
Arnoud de Jong, technical representative of ES Electro says, “Together, we have established a minimum parts stock requirement. We help ensure the continuity of their production processes while significantly reducing Van der Lee’s previously large spare parts stock investment.”
Innovation Leads to Growth
Bauer AsepticDriveTM PMSM models are designed for challenging washdown applications. The motors feature smooth surfaces and no cooling fins with corners or holes where bacteria can collect.
According to Van der Lee, “There are no machines specially made for the fish processing industry, so we must be inventive. We purchase other machines and modify them to meet our needs. We have had to develop and invent many automated fish processing technologies ourselves.”
He is very proud of the progress and growth they’ve achieved since he started there. “Everything is running smoothly, we have very few problems and limited downtime.” says Van der Lee. “If there is a problem somewhere in our process, I can quickly see where the problem is and what it
is on my mobile device.” All of the company’s investments are beginning to deliver the anticipated benefits. They can now turn their attention to long-term planning, preventive maintenance, and other improvements that make further growth possible.