Line Operators: The First Line of Defense

Understanding hot melt tank systems is no simple task. It usually takes years of experience to learn how to effectively manage adhesive systems and keep your packaging line running efficiently and effectively. Universal Systems SE understands that new line operators come into work and might need help learning which items to replace and how to replace them the correct way. That is why we offer technical support to all of our ProBilt™ customers!

There are several maintenance tasks that we recommend be completed on a regular basis to keep your adhesive system free of char and debris, which is the number one culprit in bringing down a line. Below is an easy maintenance checklist that each line operator should have in hand.

We recommend that you print this checklist out and give it to every shift that operates the packaging line. Keep in mind that changing out items such as gun heads, modules, filters and pumps all require you to clear the old lines and remove the air pressure before re-installation. Releasing the air pressure and removing all old adhesive will ensure that all seals stay intact and reduces the char transferred from the old to the new parts.

If you need help changing out parts or have questions about which items need to be changed regularly, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Troubleshooting Tips for Packaging Line Issues

Since Universal Systems SE offers technical support for all of our customers, we get several calls per day with all different kinds of technical issues that line operators experience. Because many packaging lines run 24/7, without regular maintenance of key products there will always be issues after a certain period of time. As always, we recommend changing your filters, nozzles and modules when needed to eliminate any potential issues. However, there may be other parts on your packaging lines causing these issues.

For example, if you are experiencing a dripping or not fully functional module, it is most likely not an issue with the module itself. Especially since all products go through a vigorous quality control process before leaving our facility. Because the modules are air open and spring close, there are a few items to check before switching out the module. First, Universal Systems SE recommends that you check the solenoid valve. The solenoid valve is the air supply that runs into the applicator gun and fires the glue onto the box. If the solenoid valve fails, it will not generate air power to fully open the module. If the solenoid valve is weak, it will not fully exhaust all of the air out of the module, and the module piston will not seat properly, causing a drip. Another potential issue could be that char or debris has been transferred from the tank into the gun and has gotten stuck in the spring close. This piece of char, no matter how small it could be, can limit the spring from fully closing causing “dripping”. Spring tension on the gun module being set too low could also cause “dripping”, so make sure you try to adjust that before switching out modules. Finally, if the line operator has not gone through the correct steps to change out the module, the module could be compromised. The line operator needs to make sure that they lower the air pressure used on the tank before switching modules. If they do not, they could potentially send glue into the air chamber of the gun when removing the old module.

Another common technical issue is that the heated hoses are either not heating or not heating to the correct temperature. The first step is to check and ensure that the hose zone is not set to “off”. If it is, turn the hose zone to “on”. Then, you should check to make sure all connectors are securely tightened and the controller settings are correct. If all of those are working, you next need to check the ohms reading on the hose heater and hose RTD, and all of the board fuses.  A USSE technical support representative can walk you through this check process and help identify the real issue.

For more information or if you need technical support not mentioned, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com

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Piston Pump Troubleshooting

There are several things that can cause a piston pump to stop working. The most common reason is that it is clogged. Unfortunately, not all line operators take the time to close the lid on a glue tank. With a lot of carton dust in the air at any facility, this dust gets into the glue pot and melts in with the glue. When the pump shifter runs to pump the glue from the pot into the hose, that carton dust gathers around the pump which can cause it to seize. The simple solution to this is to make sure that all shift line operators are diligent about closing the tank covers, that’s why they are on there.

If carton dust is not your issue, and the pump fails, below are a few other possible causes and the corresponding solutions.

  • Adhesive not sufficiently heated – check the tank temperature and required melt temperature of your adhesive and set accordingly.
  • Inadequate or no input air to pump – increase the air pressure from the plant air supply and see if the pump will run.
  • Dry running – when a tank drops below a certain adhesive level in the pot, the pump does not have enough glue to operate at full capacity. The glue that runs through the pump acts as a padding so that the shifter does not pound against the top and bottom of the pump itself. When that padding is less, the pounding shifter can cause damage to the magnets and create an issue with the shifter. The only solution to this is to get a new shifter and potentially invest in an auto fill on-demand system that fills the glue into the tank for you, leaving less pressure on the line operators to fill the pot.
  • No Tank Screen or Clogged Tank Screen – the tank screen lives at the bottom of the tank and is the first line of defense against any foreign debris getting into the pump. Sometimes the tank screen gets removed or never cleaned. That can cause debris build up and seize your pump. It is easily cleaned by lifting out of the empty tank and then cleaning the tank with Purge Plus™.
  • Clogged Tank Filter – the tank filter screws into the side of the tank and filters the glue after it leaves the tank. If the tank filter is clogged, then the adhesive will back up in the pump, causing the pump to seize.
  • Pump solenoid is not on – if the tank is not within 35 degrees of the setpoint temperature on the control panel, the pump solenoid will not turn on. Check the setpoint temperature and make sure it is correct. If the setpoint temperature is correct and reading properly, then it might be a failed solenoid that needs to be replaced.

 

If you go through all of these troubleshooting steps and still have an issue with your pump, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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How to Prevent Your Glue from Stringing

One of the most common issues that many packaging line operators experience with their adhesive melter is stringing. Stringing is when the adhesive is applied to the box, but before the flaps are closed on the cartoner, the glue starts to dry and string like cotton candy floating through the air.

There are a couple of fixes for this issue. Whether you are using a straight, right angle or swirl pattern nozzle, try moving the applicator gun closer to the box flap where you are applying the adhesive. The stringing could be caused because it is travelling too far of a distance from the applicator gun to the box. The shock from hitting the cooler factory air could be causing it to lose viscosity and start drying before it even hits the box. Not only will that cause stringing, that might also compromise the integrity of the glue hold on your product packaging.

Another cause of stringing glue could be temperature. Every adhesive is different and each one might require a different melt temperature. In order to keep the adhesive a consistent viscosity, make sure that the temperature on your glue tank and applicator guns are set correctly per the adhesive requirements. If the adhesive is too viscous then you might need to increase the tank temperature or change to an adhesive with a lower viscosity. If your tank temperature is correct, but your guns are not hot enough, then the glue could start to cool while travelling from the tank to the applicator gun. In this scenario, you would see that the thickness of the glue as it leaves the nozzle. Some line operators might try fixing the issue by putting a larger diameter nozzle on the module, which could be a temporary fix, but the real issue could be the temperature setting on the gun. Simply increase the gun temperature as needed to ensure a smooth, consistent adhesive flow.

There could also be an issue with the adhesive you are using on your packaging line. Like many products, if the adhesive is too old, has been sitting for too long, or has been heated and cooled too many times, this could cause stringing. We recommend that you drain all old adhesive from your tank, clean the tank with a cleaner such as Purge Plus™, and refill with fresh adhesive.

Universal Systems SE recommends trying to correct stringing if it is happening to your packaging line. Some line operators may think it is not that big of an issue, or they might blame the adhesive manufacturers, when in fact it could be a simple and important fix.

For more information or technical support to help you better understand how to fix your stringing glue, please call Universal Systems SE at (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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What Diameter Nozzle Should You Use?

Hot melt adhesive application nozzles, or nozzle tips as they are commonly called, are the component that apply the glue onto boxes in packaging lines. Universal Systems nozzles are made out of brass with stainless steel tips to withstanding any beating they might take from box flaps in the packaging line.

Nozzles comes in many shapes and sizes, and are usually the part on the adhesive system that is most experimented with. Most nozzles are easily changed out by simply unscrewing them from the module. Other nozzles, like the ones on reduced cavity, zero cavity and ProBead modules are called integrated nozzles. We sell replacement nozzle kits for integrated nozzles that include the nozzle tip, needle, brass needle guide and installation tool.

The diameter of the nozzle tip determines the amount of adhesive that is distributed onto the box flap. Because you can easily switch them out, most line operators experiment with diameter to enhance productivity. For example, smaller, more precise glue application will require a smaller diameter nozzle. Larger, faster cartoners, will most likely run larger diameter nozzles to distribute a greater amount of glue and quickly seal boxes. Keep in mind that the larger the diameter nozzle, the more adhesive your tank will process. So make sure that your line operators are keeping a close eye on the adhesive level in the tanks. Dry running a machine can compromise your pump and create a costlier repair.

Because most adhesive systems run 24/7, the nozzle is the most commonly clogged component on your line. This is due to char or debris travelling from the tank, through the hose, into the gun and through the module. Because the nozzle is the smallest orifice on your system, most char will get stuck and you will be unable to get a consistent adhesive flow. Universal Systems SE offers nozzle cleaning kits that you can purchase instead of replacing nozzles. However, most line operators find the cleaning of nozzles a tedious process, even though when done correctly it works. Nozzle cleaning kits can save you money in the long run on replacing nozzles.

Another important aspect of nozzle diameter correlates to the size of the mesh in-line filter used on your system. The larger the diameter nozzle, the lower number mesh you should use. The smaller the diameter nozzle, the finer mesh you should use.  For example, with a .024 diameter nozzle, you should have a 50 mesh filter size. With a .012 diameter nozzle, you should use 200 mesh filters.

For more information about what diameter nozzle you should be using, call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Low Profile Glue Guns

Low profile guns are one of the most commonly used gun on cartoners. They come in two module and four module versions to allow for easy glue distribution on small to large box sizes. Their name comes from their unique gun body design which is angled on each side. The angled design sides allow for the box flaps to flawlessly close while the gun is applying the adhesive on to the boxes.

Even though the low profile guns look different than a standard gun applicator, they use standard H200 modules. This allows you to use the same modules and nozzles that you run on all of your other types of glue gun applicators. With both our two module and four module low profile gun, the modules are set with .88 inch centers and are a air-open, spring-close. The most commonly used nozzles for low profile guns are one or two orifice, right angle nozzles.

A few of our customers have asked over the years if Universal Systems SE manufactures a one module low profile gun. The answer would be no, however we can insert a custom module blank to the two module low profile gun, effectively turning it into a one module applicator. An advantage to this is that our custom module blank is removable, in case you ever change up your packaging line and need a two module low profile gun.

The item numbers for our Universal Systems SE ProBilt™ low profile gun heads are item # 3281 for the two module version and item # 3471 for the four module version. If you are interested in learning if your packaging line runs low profile guns compared to standard glue applicators, or the advantages to switching to a low profile gun, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Custom Manifolds & Gun Applicators

There are not many manufacturers in the hot melt industry that have the ability to work with clients and create custom manifolds and gun applicators to fit their unique needs. Universal Systems SE has that ability and is willing to pair up our engineers with our client’s team to ensure that we manufacture the exact applicator needed for any job.

Over the last forty years, Universal Systems SE has manufactured an array of different custom manifolds and gun applicator systems for different types of industries. Not only can our custom gun manifolds distribute adhesive onto boxes in packaging lines, but they can be used for distributing make-up, candle gel, etc. Depending on the viscosity and melt rate of the substance needed to make the transfer, our custom manifolds and applicators will work with several different types of materials.

The custom manifold and gun process is simple. Contact one of Universal Systems SE’s customer service representatives, by either calling in to (561) 272-5442 or submitting a custom gun online form. You will then be connected with a USSE mechanical engineer. After all of the client’s needs are communicated with our engineering team and all questions answered, USSE will provide the customer with a custom manifold drawing for approval. The drawing will include dimensions of the manifold, spacing of modules, type of modules and all cordsets that are included and the location of those cordsets. Once the drawing is signed off on by the customer, we then manufacture the manifold body. After a vigorous quality control process, each custom manifold is inspected and tested to ensure all dimensions are correct and that the custom gun matches the approved drawing. Once the manifold passes all initial testing, modules are added and the custom gun is created and tested internally by two different QC Engineers. Once there is approval by both engineers, the final product is cleaned and ready for shipping.

The normal process for custom manufactured manifolds and completed guns is four to six weeks, with extra time potentially added in depending on customer turnaround time for drawing approvals.

If you are interested in learning more about the types of custom manifolds and gun applicators that Universal Systems SE can engineer for you, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Water Wash Heated Hoses vs. High Flex Heated Hoses

Universal Systems SE manufactures our ClearFlow™ line of heated hoses. ClearFlow™ hoses can be used to transfer many different types of heated materials, however the most common is adhesive. There are two different types of heated hoses that USSE manufactures, high flex and water wash. Water wash, also known as washdown hoses, are manufactured with the same high-quality materials as our high flex hoses, but with a secure water wash connection between the hose and glue head. They are also encased with state of the art, high temperature, extremely durable, waterproof jacketing.

The main question that we get from customers is: why would we need a water-resistant hose? These are not hoses that get submerged under water. These water-resistant hoses, are used in facilities where machines are required to get washed down during or after operation. Hence the name water wash. For example, any type of food manufacturing plant such as ice cream, frozen food, cheese, etc. would be required by the FDA to wash down their equipment regularly. These wash downs impact all of the equipment in the facility, so if you are purchasing a water-resistant heated hose, you will also need a water-resistant gun applicator. The washdown gun applicator will also have the special waterproof jacketing on the cordset and water-resistant adaptor that fits with the hose. As displayed in the picture below.

All ClearFlow™ water wash hoses are manufactured with PTFE Teflon® inner cores and RTD temperature area-sensing. They have a maximum operating temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, maximum operating pressure of 1,500 psi and are 240v. Universal Systems SE manufactures our washdown hoses in multiple lengths that range from 2 feet to 24 feet long.

If you are interested in getting pricing on a ClearFlow™ Water Wash heated hose, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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What is Old is New Again

Every year, some hot new product comes out and promises you the world. Then, when you get it, you realize that the “latest technology” is more frustrating and causes more trouble than it’s worth. Not only does it cost you more money initially, the maintenance and unreliability seem to also increase. The same thing has happened with some of the largest hot melt manufacturers. Their latest technology that has been implemented in all of their new systems to make your line operator’s life easier, can potentially make it harder and more expensive.

Which is why Universal Systems SE is dedicated to keeping our current high standard of precision engineering, but with our existing look and ease-of-use technology. Universal Systems SE is standing behind our current key attributes: reliability, long life span, economical pricing and simple but effective operation. Why add more bells and whistles when the current tried and true works just fine.

Tried and True ProBilt® Product Features:

10-year tank warranty.

User-friendly design for easy installation, simplistic operation, and minimal maintenance.

AccuScan Control System with on board microprocessor and keypad controls for melter, heated hoses and adhesive applicators.

“One touch” setback key for standby mode.

Parent machine interfacing.

External fault alarm interfacing.

Under temperature and over temperature protection on all zones.

Faults trigger both visual indicators as well as an audible alarm.

RTD temperature control with self-diagnostic digital temperature readings within +/- 1 degree.

LCD display for both temperature and system status.

Teflon® coated tank.

Stainless steel and high strength aluminum construction allows easy cleaning and unequaled durability.

14:1 ratio balanced pneumatic piston pump.

Self-sealing, full opening lids for easy loading and maintenance.

For more information on Universal Systems SE’s line of ProBilt® products, please call (800) 848-5018 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Nozzles: Brass w/ Stainless Steels Tips

There are several components that work together in applying hot melt adhesive to your packaging line. One of the most important, yet smallest, components are nozzles. Nozzles come in several types and sizes, and even though you may not realize it, these small parts are engineered in a way to keep your packaging line running smoothly and efficiently.

Constructed out of brass and fitted with stainless steep tips, Universal Systems prides our self in the ability to manufacture high quality and long-lasting nozzles. We make the body out of brass because it is the best conductor of heat to keep the adhesive the correct temperature for application. The different orifice tips are made from stainless steel because of the materials durability and longevity. Stainless steel tips will remain accurate in diameter and are nearly impossible to damage from packaging flaps, which tend to brush up against nozzles on cartoner machines.

Another great attribute of our Universal Systems SE nozzles is their versatility and ease of use. Most all nozzles are replaceable. Even if you are running reduced cavity, zero cavity or ProBead modules, we offer the option to buy nozzle tip replacement kits. For standard modules, simply unscrew your existing nozzle and then screw on the new one. For reduced cavity, zero cavity or ProBead modules, we include the nozzle tip, needle, needle guide and installation tool. Also, most all nozzles are cleanable! If you think that your nozzles are clogged from char or debris, you can get a nozzle cleaning kit for all diameter nozzles. If you are a new client, you can take advantage of our Spring Promotion where you get a free nozzle cleaning kit with the purchase of 20 or more nozzles.

If you are interested in learning more about Universal Systems SE nozzles or get pricing on nozzles, nozzle replacement kits or cleaning kits, please reach out to sales@ussefl.com or call (800) 848-5018.

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