Case study: handling stand-up pouch at HAK

Extremely flexible pouch production line on just 350 m2 (!)

"The innovation lies in the actions before and after the retort"

After its establishment in 1952, HAK, the typical Dutch producer of vegetables and legumes, has grown to become the market leader in the Benelux. A few years ago, HAK expanded its range with the stand-up pouch. Then Lan Handling came into the picture. There is now a highly automated and robotic production line for the now well-known HAK pouch. Technical Project Manager Ronald van Helfteren: “We are now working with dozens of recipes in different variations and the end is not yet in sight.”


Netherlands, Giessen Product handling pouches Stand-up pouch Robot loader / unloader in one 350 m2

Goal: in-house production

From the beginning, HAK had the desire to produce the stand-up pouches entirely in-house.


In 2017 it was time. With this own retort production line, HAK has control, even more accurate quality assurance and they know the exact limits of the line. A fully automated production line has been chosen so that the “Zak van HAK” can be produced as efficiently as possible.

Pouch Handling: how does it work?

Broadly speaking, the production line consists of a filling line, pouch handling system, retorts and a packaging line.


Lan’s fully automatic pouch handling system ensures that the stand-up pouches that come out of the filler are positioned efficiently. A robot fills and stacks the drawers. A shuttle then drives three stacks to and from a retort for loading and unloading. The same robot ensures that the trays are stacked after sterilization, after which the pouches are placed at a fixed distance on a conveyor belt. Ready for the packaging line.

The biggest challenges in designing the production line for HAK:

  • Flexibility
    HAK wanted a single production line for various packaging with different dimensions and weights. That is why Lan has built the line flexible. This is reflected in a simply designed exchange system for, among other things:
    – The stoppers on the conveyor belt that perfectly align the stand-up pouches with different sizes before they are formed on a belt.
    – The positioning of the suction cups on the pick & place unit, which transfers the pouches to the formation belt.
    – The head of the robot, which consists of 3 separate parts of max. 16 kg each (from an ergonomic point of view).
    Does the size of the package change? Then the handling system can be converted in 10 minutes.
  • Special tray
    Due to the diversity of pouches, Lan has developed a special tray in collaboration with the retort supplier, in which a robot can load both large and small stand-up pouches. When loading the larger bags, the stacks become 11 trays high. For the smaller bags, 18 trays are stacked. When handling the larger bags, the buffer track is used as a storage place for the not-used trays.
  • Robot loader/unloader in one: food safety
    The requested capacity of HAK allowed us to let one robot fulfill the function of both the loader and the unloader. The robot cycle has been programmed by Lan in such a way that there can never be any contamination between sterilized and non-sterilized products.
  • Surface
    Total area of the production line for stand-up pouches is 600 m2. Sterilization and handling takes place on just 350 m2 (!). The space has been used optimally.
Check out our expertise with retort pouches

HAK about Lan

Ronald van Helfteren, technical project leader at HAK:


“Until a few years ago, HAK’s expertise lay in producing vegetables in glass jars. Producing stand-up pouches ourselves was completely new to us. From the start of the project we therefore had good consultation with the suppliers involved. It was important to bring in the necessary knowledge and skills. Lan Handling Technologies has responded very well to this.

The project leader and engineers from Lan took us step by step into the how and why of certain choices in the field of pouch handling. Important for us, because the actions before and after the retort are crucial in the production process. We also benefited from the good cooperation between Lan and the supplier of the retorts in the design of the trays (the stainless steel plate on which the stand-up pouches are located during sterilization).

Next steps?

At HAK we are constantly optimizing and further developing (new) products.


We now look, for example, at the material from which the stand-up pouch is made; can this be even more sustainable? And what impact does this have on the production process and handling systems? Small changes can have major consequences. We will also start with the  implementation of preventive maintenance. We are happy to take the data from the Lan pouch handling systems into account.

Questions? Want to know more? Feel free to call or whatsapp.

We are happy to make you a personal offer. We ensure a quick response. Did you know that we also make handling systems for cans, jars and containers?

Hans Verschuuren

Technical Sales Manager