Managing Your Packaging Line in the New Year

It’s finally here, 2021! It felt like 2020 took forever to end, but now that it is gone, we need to make 2021 the best and most efficient year yet. Due to the struggles that we all faced last year, company strategies have changed, not because we wanted them to but because they had to. And like most industries, the packaging industry has also seen a lot of changes. We are now allowed less people in the office and on the line. Since workers have to be 6 feet apart, we cannot operate as many packaging lines as we want or need to. That means that we are getting less budget to spend on materials, supplies and equipment. Now, operating managers are finding themselves being more particular about cost and efficiencies. That is where Universal Systems comes into the mix. Our ProBilt line of hot melt equipment is made in the USA and has some of the strongest warranties in the industry. We have been manufacturing since 1981 and know what it means to work hard and take pride in that hard work. As we move out of a pandemic and into a new world, we have a few suggestions to help manage our “new normal” in the packaging world.

Catalog Your Inventory – while this may seem like a tedious task, it is worth it in the long run. Once you know what you have and how much you are using of an item, you will be able to estimate your budget needed for the new year.

Research Your Vendor Options – change is hard, but sometimes the best options are ones you haven’t even known about. Take some time to price out vendors for your packaging needs. There may be options out there that you don’t even know about that can save you a lot of money and be just as efficient and high quality as what you have been buying.

Learn How to Troubleshoot & Maintain – Pre-COVID, when the economy was thriving and budgets were high, packaging facilities had maintenance managers, operations managers, line operators, buyers, etc. Now, you may find yourself doing a little bit of everything. At Universal Systems, we believe that knowledge is power. The more you know about the equipment you are running and how to maintain and fix the issues will save you from overspending in the future. We have technicians that have over 40 years of experience in hot melt, that are here to help you if needed. Just call (561) 272-5442.

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When to Call Your Glue Manufacturer vs. Your Packaging Machinery Technician

With the reopening of many packaging facilities in full swing, here at Universal Systems SE, we are getting a lot of technical calls that pertain to glue and not the packaging machinery itself. Not a lot of technicians realize that some of the problems they are experiencing with their equipment are actually being caused by the glue. By the way, this has always been the case. Since knowledge is power, below are 2 issues that we get a lot of calls about that are glue related and not machine related.

#1 Glue Related Issue – Char

Many line operators and line technicians have experienced char in their hot melt application systems and most of them think that the char is caused by the machine. That is not actually accurate. The hot melt tank will heat the glue, but only to the temperature that is set by the operator. It is very important to understand how recommended temperature ranges effects viscosity which allows the glue to run at its optimal level. Most charring is due to overheating the glue. That char will travel through your application equipment and cause clogs which will require you to replace equipment or its components. However, that will not fix the long-term problem of charring. If the charring is not corrected, when you install the new equipment it will clog again. That is not a machinery issue, that is a glue issue. Our suggestion is to speak with your glue provider and find out all of the specifications on the glue you are using such as ball and ring, optimal temperature and viscosity. That will save you a lot of money in the long run and should reduce any excessive charring.

#2 Glue Related Issue – Coagulation

There is no doubt about it, glue is expensive. In most cases, the glue can be more expensive than the application equipment. The reason is because most facilities use a lot of it. As we all know, the world has been a crazy place this year, and with the re-opening of a lot of packaging plants, comes new, reduced operating budgets. We have heard from a lot of customers that in order to save on costs, they have had to change glue, whether it is moving to a more inexpensive glue, or a system that lays down less glue but with a stronger adhesion. Either way, if you change glue and do not meticulously clean your glue application system, you can have coagulation causing clogs. We recommend cleaning your tank and hoses with Purge Plus or a similar cleaning substance before changing glues.

At Universal Systems SE, we are always happy to help with any issues that you might have. But keep in mind that sometimes, your issue might be something that you need to discuss with your glue manufacturer. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions at tech@ussefl.com.

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Safety in Switching Out Glue Equipment

The best way to keep your packaging line up and running as efficiently as possible is to do preventative maintenance. Here at Universal Systems SE, we have advocated for regular packaging line maintenance, including all of your glue melter equipment and components. However, it is not only important to know when to do maintenance, it is also important to know how to do that maintenance. There are more mistakes made in the switching out of glue equipment and components than you may think. Whether you are changing out a filter or switching a pump, there are steps to take in order to ensure a smooth transition, with the least amount of downtime. Here are a few tips on switching some of our ProBilt hot melt equipment products.

Tank Filters

First and foremost, it is important to know the model of your tank. Even though that sounds like standard knowledge, there are many tanks that look similar but have different tank capacities, pump types and filters. Once you know the tank model, you can look up if you need to replace the entire tank filter or if you can replace just the screen. On USSE’s ProBilt tanks, for example, you have the option to change only the tank screen. This allows you to save some money long term, while still maintaining your tank. It is recommended that you make the change while the tank is in setback and to wear Kevlar gloves so that you don’t burn yourself. The tank filter is located on the side of the tank. It can be removed with a flat head screw driver. Once the complete filter assembly is removed, there is a long screw that secures the screen to the assembly. Simply remove that screw, switch the screen, and replace the filter assembly. If you are changing out the tank screen, make sure that you do not damage the filter bung or o-rings when making the switch. Also, be careful, the glue inside the filter is HOT.

In-line Gun Filters

These are the easiest of filters on your glue line to change out. In most cases, the filters can be reordered in packs of 5. Locate where the filter is on the filter assembly body and use a wrench to loosen and remove. Kevlar gloves should be worn, as the outside of the filter will be hot and there will be glue on the filter you are removing. Simply put the new filter in place and tighten.

Modules

Usually modules are switched out because they are dripping or leaking. This is typically caused by either char or end of life of seat and piston. Switching out a module is fairly simple. Before taking off the old module and replacing with the new, make sure that the system is not running. Each replacement module comes with 2 o-rings and 2 screws. Place the o-rings on the back of the module and secure it on the gun applicator with the new screws.

If you are running an H200, zero cavity or reduced cavity module, there are rebuild kits available.

Pumps

Switching out a glue pump is the least common practice on a packaging line. However, this is also simpler than you would think. Most technicians think that in order to change out a pump, you need to turn the tank off and let the glue cool. That is not always the case. If you are running a ProBilt tank and have an experience technician, he can switch out the pump while the system is still on. First, make sure you are wearing Kevlar gloves because the system will be hot. Turn off the air running to the system, this will limit any injuries. Remove the 3 bolts holding in the pump, use needle-nose pliers and do this carefully. Put the old pump on a large piece of cardboard where the glue can drain, cool and harden. Carefully put the new pump in, secure it with the 3 bolts and turn back on the air.

For any other questions about tank maintenance, please contact one of Universal Systems’ experienced technicians at (561) 272-5442 or email tech@ussefl.com

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Quality Assurance

As a manufacturer, Universal Systems SE, understands the importance of quality. That is why all of our hot melt application systems and components go through an extensive quality assurance process before they leave our facility.

Each technician at Universal Systems has a specialty. For example, building circuit boards, assembling tanks, building & testing pumps, building applicators, winding hoses, pressing in seals and assembling modules, pressing and drilling nozzles, etc. With over 10,000 parts in stock, quality assurance and having a double check (or even triple check) system in place is essential to ensure all of our customers are getting high quality products that will last for years.

Each technician takes immense pride in their work. However, even the best of the best need to be checked. Our typical QA process requires the build technician to go through their assembly process and initial each step, which confirms to the QA technician that they have in fact followed the correct order. This is important since most of the time our build technicians are building multiples of the same product at one time. We want to guarantee that a step is not skipped. After the build technician has initialed their paperwork, the product is then moved to the QA department. A QA professional is assigned to the project and reviews all of the key items on their checklist. Once the component QA is complete, the item is boxed, dated and initialed by the QA professional. The next time you receive an order from us, check to see that there is a green QA sticker with initials on it. That is your QA professional!

For any further questions regarding our QA process or if there are any technical questions you have about any Universal Systems product, please email sales@ussefl.com or call us at (561) 272-5442.

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Starting Back Up After a Pandemic

This is most definitely a new reality that we are all facing. Never before have so many companies had to shut down several, if not all, of their packaging lines because of a global pandemic. However, it was a scary and necessary measure taken to prevent further outbreaks of COVID-19. Now, as we slowly start to reopen as a nation, so does our packaging facilities. State by state, Governors are rolling out the reopening phases that each company, both essential and non-essential must follow.

With the reopening happening, that may mean you are going to run into a few speed bumps. As we all know, machines that typically run seven days a week, don’t like being shut down for three months. Especially if they are not shut down and cleaned out properly before they sat around idle. So, when you switch the power button back to “ON”, everything might not turn green.

In an effort to help with troubleshooting, we have put together a quick list of potential fixes.

1. CLEAN YOUR TANK. We cannot stress this enough. Even if your team drained the glue in the tank reservoir before shut down, there will still be old residue that will impact your restart. Cleaning your tank is fairly simple. First, make sure to detach all guns from the hoses before running the cleaner through. Utilizing our Purge Plus cleaner, fill the tank reservoir and heat. Place the end of the hose inside a bucket and flush the cleaner through the tank and out through the hose.
2. CHANGE ALL FILTERS. This includes both the tank filter and in-line gun filter. Starting with new fresh filters is the smart way to go.
3. NOZZLES MIGHT GET CLOGGED UPON INITIAL RESTART. Nozzles have small orifices that dispense the glue onto packages. If there is any left-over char in the tank from restart, the nozzles could get clogged up first. Try switching the nozzle to see if that fixes the issue.
4. REBUILD KITS. There are a few items that can be rebuilt on your adhesive melter system. For example, your pump. If you think that your seals have dried up from sitting idle through the down time, and you have a skilled mechanic trained to work on the equipment, try ordering a rebuild kit. This will save you money on purchasing a new pump.

If you experience any other issues during your restart, please call us directly at (561) 272-5442 and a technician will walk you through troubleshooting any issue. Stay Safe!

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Keep Your Melter Clean

Keeping your hot melt adhesive system clean may seem like an impossible task. Take a look at your melter now, it is probably bronzed and blackened with old melted glue. Well guess what…that is what travels through your application system and onto your boxes. Also, do you see all of the little bits of blackened glue? That is called char, and it is a big problem for your equipment. Even though your melter looks like this now, it is possible to keep it clean “ish”. Now, this melter runs in a packaging line, most likely 8 – 12 hours per day, every day, so there is no way that tit is going to stay pristine or even look clean after its first use. However, there are a few tricks of the trade to keep your melter looking good and running even better for decades to come.

Universal Systems SE sells a product called Purge Plus™ that, when used properly, will clean almost any melter. The directions for use are simple:

  • Drain all hot melt from tank reservoir
  • Fill reservoir with Purge Plus™
  • Heat Purge Plus to 350°F – 375°F for approximately 45 minutes
  • Open tank drain valve and remove tank filter assembly
  • Slowly start pump and run Purge Plus™ through the tank manifold and into a meal container until reservoir is empty
  • Stop pump, replace filter assembly and close drain valve
  • Carefully wipe any remaining contaminants from tank reservoir
  • Add new hot melt and recirculate through system
  • Drain one cup from each hose

In addition to cleaning the tank reservoir and heated hot melt hoses, if you are running a ProBilt™ series melter, the exterior is manufactured out of 316 grade stainless steel. So, any stainless steel cleaner will shine the exterior of the tank.

For any additional questions about Purge Plus or how to properly clean your tank and hoses, please call a Universal Systems service technician at (561) 272-5442 or email tech@ussefl.com.

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Hunting Down Old Adhesive Melter Parts

An interesting fact about the packaging industry that most people don’t realize, is that purchasing agents become avid internet hunters when it comes to finding parts for their old equipment. There are several resources out there, the largest being eBay, for purchasing agents to find and buy parts for their old adhesive melters. The problem is, when buying from a bid platform, you never know what you are going to get. If you are looking for an old part, for a melter that is more than 20 years old, the part you find online could either be used or the wrong part. Also, with most online bid platforms, you get what you get. There are no returns or exchanges for your actual part. And in most cases, you get what you pay for.

Universal Systems SE realizes how important it is to be an online resource of purchasing agents, which is why we have invested in becoming “searchable”. In the last couple of years, we have launched a new website, added more products, and increased the number of cross-reference IDs on our website. We have added pictures, spec sheets and custom contact forms to help purchasing agents get exactly what they need. We are also working on making sure that we show up in the search results when purchasing agents Google old part numbers or manufacturers.

The benefit of buying from USSE is that all of our equipment is new, in stock and you can talk with a technician to make sure it will fit with your current equipment. Another key aspect of working with USSE is our staff of knowledgeable engineers that have been around adhesive melters and packaging line equipment for over 40 years. If you have a question about your old melter, we are most likely the only company in the industry that can answer it.

To test out the knowledge of our technicians, give us a call at (800) 848-5018. We are certain we can get your old equipment back up and running in record time.

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CPGs Wrestle with Workforce

If you follow the packaging industry, whether through news articles, industry periodicals or first hand through direct buyers at CPG companies, one of the largest drivers in packaging is the stress on workforce demands. This can include how difficult it is to find reliable workers that are dedicated to the success of the company. It can also be in the aspect that most of the line operators working the packaging line equipment are not trained properly on that piece of equipment and all of its capabilities.

As the packaging industry tries to modernize technology, not all of their workforce can keep up. As a hot melt equipment manufacturer, one of our core competencies is our knowledgeable technical support. If you have any Universal Systems SE equipment or ProBilt™ machines on your packaging lines, you can rest assured that you will get speedy, knowledgeable sales and technical support. However, in many instances, line operators do not have that type of experience or knowledge base. That can lead to “on the fly” fixes, which usually equates to weakened product and voided warranties. At Universal Systems SE we understand that knowledge is power, and we want to make line operators jobs easier, not harder. With that in mind, we have kept all of the ProBilt™ hot melt application systems uniform and easy to operate. We also try to make our clients smarter when they call with issues, asking questions to help them learn or giving them some simple troubleshooting tips to follow for the future.

In addition to being able to help line operators with questions and knowledge, we also make sure to include in every shipment all of the pertinent manuals and information guidelines needed. For example, if your company is ordering ClearFlow™ heated hoses (Universal Systems SE’s proprietary line of heated hot melt hoses), each shipment will include installation and care instructions. The same goes for our ProBilt™ applicator guns. With the purchase of any ProBilt™ application gun, we include a list of maintenance recommendations on the gun, modules and nozzles.

So, as CPGs continue to have concerns with their workforce, we here at Universal Systems SE  we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that we keep them knowledgeable on our equipment.

To learn more about our ClearFlow™ hoses or any other ProBilt™ products, please reach out to sales@ussefl.com or call (561) 272-5442.

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Managing Your Glue Usage in Packaging

Hot melt adhesive is not cheap and you may notice that the prices are only going up. What purchasing agents might not know, is that a lot of packaging lines are using more glue than is actually needed. There are a few simple ways to manage your actual glue usage and help cut costs to manage your budget.

Nozzle Diameter

The first step in managing your glue usage, is knowing the diameter nozzle tip you are using in your packaging lines, and understanding why you are purchasing that size. A lot of times, our sales reps will get calls from customers that want to buy larger size nozzle tips because their line operators are saying there is not enough glue being released on the cartons. Obviously, as you increase your nozzle tip diameter, the more glue you are going to use overall and increase your yearly costs for adhesive. This can also cause several other issues, such as potential sealing issues if the hot adhesive does not have enough time to dry as it moves along the cartoner. If your line operators are asking for larger diameter nozzles, question them as to why.

Evaluate Set-up

If your line operators are stating that the glue is not keeping the packaging closed, which is why they need larger nozzles, evaluate your setup. Check the distance your gun applicator is to your carton and at what temperature you are heating your adhesive. If the adhesive is not hot enough and your gun is too far away from the application site, the adhesive could be cooling before it even hits the carton which is why it is not creating a tight seal. Simply increasing your heating temperature or moving your gun applicator closer to the end application site could solve this issue. You could also be putting down too much glue already. If you have a high-speed packaging line, and put down too much glue, the speed will not allow time for the large amount of glue to dry.

Change Your Filters

Another simple solution to managing your glue usage, is to check both your tank and gun filters. If your nozzles are clogging frequently, causing the line operators to buy larger diameter nozzles, they may be clogging due to char. Char is a typical occurrence in hot melt packaging, but the transfer of most char can be prevented by regularly changing your tank and gun filters. These filters will extend the life of both your modules and nozzles.

For more information or tips on how to increase your packaging line efficiency and lower your costs, call a Universal Systems representative at (561) 272-5442 or email us at sales@ussefl.com.

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The Importance of Utilizing Cross-Referencing

The packaging industry is entering the time of year when budgets are getting tight, but replacement parts are still needed. Universal Systems SE will cross-reference any of our competitor item numbers and get you high quality replacements. Cross-referencing Nordson item numbers to Universal Systems SE item numbers will help to lower your cost and keep your packaging lines running longer!

You will also notice that our competitors change their part number often. This is why we offer the search bar on our website for any cross-reference numbers you might have. Some of the most common cross references are listed below. If you purchase any of the parts listed on a regular basis, please feel free to call us today! We guarantee that all of our products are quality control tested before leaving our facility and we stand by all of our products with strong warranties.

Adhesive Systems:

P10, 1022234, 1022235, 276881, 276882, 276883, 276884, 276885, 276886, 276033, 276034, 238310, 243666, 168204, 166535 à ALL of these item numbers match USSE # D100-644

Heated Hoses:

4 Ft. Hose:

107288, 129556, 100120, 274791, 276151 –> 4104

6 Ft. Hose:

107286, 129557, 100121, 274792, 276152 –> 4106

8 Ft. Hose:

107287, 129559, 100122, 274793, 276153 –> 4108

10 Ft. Hose:

107289, 129561, 100123, 274794, 276154 –> 4110

12 Ft. Hose:

107310, 129562, 100124, 274795, 276155  –> 4112

16 Ft. Hose:

104008, 129564, 100125, 274796, 276156 –> 4116

20 Ft. Hose:

223838, 223836 –> 4120

24 Ft. Hose:

129565, 100832, 100126, 274797 –> 4124

Applicator Guns:

H200 1 Module AO/AC

8503717, 8505756, 8505768 –> 39105

H200 1 Module (AO/SC)

274596, 224939, 8503591, 8503686 –> 39107

Modules:

H200 (AO/AC)

1052927 –> 29215

H200 (AO/SC)

272282, 276119, 326583, 331979, 1048115, 2210, 2219, 2400, 2410 –> 29219

 

For any other questions on cross-referencing, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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