"The system developed by Alexander van der Lely and Karel van den Berg demonstrates how high-tech advances can sustainably assist the agricultural sector,” said EPO President António Campinos about the nomination “And they have enhanced market uptake by licensing their technology, building a company that is competitive on a global stage”.
Together, Alexander van der Lely and Karel van den Berg are driving a new approach to the dairy business, one that focusses on “cow-friendly” automation and making farming operations more efficient. Karel van den Berg grew up on a farm and knew that for robotic milking to be successful, it would need to be accepted by the cows as being part of the barn. “I started from the principle that the cow needs freedom within the milking pen; it should not be fixed or restrained,” he says, adding that “when a cow feels good, has no stress and is offered everything – that’s when it produces the most milk”.
Innovating (for) agribusiness
In 1985, Karel van den Berg and his team of engineers began developing the robotic milking system. One year later, Alexander van der Lely’s father filed patent applications for the first two milking inventions, one of which is still in use in the current system. Alexander van der Lely studied production and management engineering in Zurich before joining the family-run business in 1995, when he was tasked with improving the technical performance of the robotic milking system. Although the earliest Astronaut systems were commercially available in the mid-90s, the agribusiness was initially reluctant to use these robots. “One reason why this innovation took a long time to market was because we developed the machine to be operational 24 hours a day which is a huge leap in managing a farm. We also needed the time to convince farmers that this automation was the way forward and to build up the necessary service network.” Alexander van der Lely recalls.
Today, the company is a pioneer in the robotic milking: Alexander van der Lely has been named on 47 European patents for advances in milking and agricultural automation, and over his 35-year career, van den Berg has been named as an inventor on 267 European patents, many of which have equivalents in other territories too.
More information about the nomination and EPO
For more information about the nomination and to vote, visit the EPO website
April 17, 2019
Lely continues its focus by divesting Lely Aircon
Intention to sell wind turbine operations to Bettink Service Team
Maassluis, 17 April 2019 - Due to their strategic focus on robotics and data within the dairy farming segment, Lely intends to sell its Lely Aircon wind turbine operations to Bettink Service Team. The Lely Aircon activities will be part of BestWatt, Bettink’s total solution for sustainable energy.
Nov. 13, 2018
Lely demonstrates: robotic milking is possible without pelletized concentrates
The 'Commodity feeder' for the Lely Astronaut offers a more economic alternative.
Maassluis, November 13 2018 – Milking robot manufacturer Lely offers its Astronaut customers the possibility to dose non-pelletized feed in the milking robot. The option is called 'Commodity feeder' and can result in huge savings on feed costs for robot milkers.