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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the most common customer service calls we receive has to do with adhesives that get mixed together and then create a mess inside the melter tank. It is important for any packaging line operator to understand that not all glue is made equal, which means they might not mix well together. Especially when operating at high heat with high demand.
Know Your Adhesive
There are two main types of adhesives that you could be using in your tank: ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) and polyolefin. EVA is a copolymer adhesive, most commonly used in the paper, packaging, and assembly industries, as they bond to a variety of cellulosic materials and have a wide range of formulation. Polyolefin is used mostly at low application temperatures and works best in spray or film form. The best thing to do is keep the adhesive information so that you do not accidentally order the wrong type of adhesive and mix them together. When EVA and PVA are mixed together and heated, they create a thick gelatin formulation that will destroy your melter pot. This is not something that can be cleaned out, even with the strongest of cleaners.
Clean & Purge Your Tank
It is imperative, whenever starting a new batch of adhesive to thoroughly purge and clean your tank, hoses and guns. Removing all remanence of previous adhesive build up. This will prevent any clogs or char from filtering through your adhesive system and causing any unnecessary adhesive mixing. Universal Systems offers a cleaner called Purge Plus™ that, when heated to the correct temperature within your tank, will remove all of the old adhesive and char.
For more information on Universal Systems SE or our Purge Plus™ cleaner, please contact us at (800) 848-5018 or email us at email@example.com.
One of the most dangerous, yet inevitable, occurrences running hot melt systems in your packaging lines is char. Universal Systems SE has updated technology running in our ClearFlow™ hoses that reduces char, however the main char that runs through the hoses comes from the tank itself. Once your tank is infested with char, no matter how efficiently your hoses and guns run, there is always the potential to transfer this char onto your packages. You also run the risk of char clogging your nozzles and modules, which can back up through your guns and kill your pumps. Our Universal Systems SE technicians have seen it all. That is why we have created a list of preventative tips that each line operator should follow to effectively reduce char and keep your ProBilt® system running at top capacity.
Universal Systems Se recommends a complete hot melt system cleaning at least twice a year using our Purge Plus™ system cleaner.
Hot melt adhesive should always be stored in a strong container such as a heavy-duty plastic waste container. Do not set boxes or open bags of adhesive on the floor or on the top of the container. The container should be labeled “Adhesive Only” and include your adhesive part number.
Low Quality Adhesive
With hot melt adhesives, higher price usually means higher quality, the opposite is also true. Adhesive manufacturing is a highly un-regulated industry and many companies use low cost waxes and fillers in their products to reduce cost. These products tend to burn quickly. Due to the fillers and heavy waxes, low cost adhesives can greatly reduce your adhesive mileage whereas high quality adhesives are lighter and have a lower specific gravity. The bottom line is a higher dollar per pound does not necessarily translate to higher packaging costs. We also recommend that you do not mix old adhesives with new brand adhesives. Please read our past blog to help you understand why.
Hot melt systems are not cheap, so most of the ones in operation today have been on their packaging lines for 10 – 20 years, whether they are running properly or not. That means that most likely, these older machines have char built up in their tanks. It may be time to evaluate the performance and efficiency of your aging equipment and trade up to a new ProBilt®.
To get the latest pricing on ClearFlow™ hoses, Purge Plus™ system cleaner or ProBilt® adhesive melters, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are experiencing issues with char, please feel free to call one of our technicians at (800) 848-5018 and we would be happy to help you.
There are two main options in the market available for sealing your packages: Adhesive vs. Tape. Much like Batman vs. Superman, this is a largely debated topic in the packaging industry. Many carton packaging line manufacturers have been changing their machines from hot glue to tape. They claim that this will cut costs and reduce downtime. Here is why that is the WRONG move!
The largest complaint among manufacturers is downtime. Downtime leads to higher product costs, higher labor overhead and material waste, especially when it comes to tape. Cartoner machines that seal packages with tape commonly run into the following issues:
- Changeover Downtime – tape roll capacities are not as abundant as hot melt adhesive. Adhesive pellets are not only cheaper than tape, but with the new on-demand adhesive application systems, the adhesive flow process is seamless with fewer interruptions.
- Poor Tape Adhesion – One of the things you will never hear a complaint about when it comes to hot melt adhesive is that it does not stick. However, that is the top complaint of packaging line operators when it comes to tape machines.
- Uncut Tape – when the line fails to cut the tape at proper lengths, all of the cartons are held together. That results in the line being shut down and operators are forced to manually cut the tape. With hot melt adhesive, this is never a problem.
- Broken Tape – this is a result from poor tension control which causes the tape to stretch and break. Another issue you will never experience from running an adhesive system.
Hot melt adhesive equipment, when maintained properly will last you decades and reduce your downtime overall.
People have been packaging products for thousands of years. From the time the earliest humans stepped out to go on a long hunt, it was necessary to wrap food for the journey in something – be it leaves or grass – in order to keep the food from spoiling. As time progressed, new innovations allowed new foods to be packaged for transportation. And innovations were made to package non-food items, as well. Packaging allows for the easy transport of anything and everything that people produce.
But fast-forward a few thousand years. People no longer produce things on a small scale. Even when an entire year’s worth of a harvest was required to be packaged for transport across the country, it did not compare to the production capacity of the twentieth century. New manufacturing technology has made it possible to produce thousands of pieces of a product in a single day. Anyone who has walked into a big-box store or supermarket has experienced firsthand the overwhelming mass production that is possible with modern techniques.
With high-speed production comes the need for high-speed packaging. This is not something that can be accomplished by hand, and requires specialized machines and technology for the process. An important part of high-speed packaging is hot melt equipment. Since hot melt is literally what holds the packaging in an industrial world together.
Hot melt glue has the ability to rapidly cool and bond materials, which allows manufacturers to quickly seal and secure products. Companies across all industries know if items are not properly packaged and available to ship immediately after production, they will lose money. Humans continue to build on the idea of wrapping things in leaves and putting items in a containers for transport. The key to continued progress is incorporating new technologies as well as adapting to the needs of an ever changing global market.
Hot melt glue is a thermoplastic adhesive that melts and flows when heated and solidifies when cooled. Most of the time, when someone mentions hot melt glue we think of do-it-yourself craft projects. However, hot melt is actually used in many different industrial applications because of its drying time, shelf life, and bond strength.
The drying time for most hot melt products is nearly instant. As soon as the adhesive product is dispensed from the applicator the temperature rapidly falls and begins to turn back to a solid state. A great example of the final result is the dots of glue that hold together the top of cereal boxes. Hot melt can adhere to nearly any kind of material and creates an immensely strong weather resistant bond. Most products held together with hot melt will stay for years, which is another reason why hot melt is used instead of other water based adhesives.
Companies across the globe take advantage of these traits and use hot melt for bookbinding, lamination, automotive assembly, appliance manufacturing, even the creation of diapers and air filters. Not to mention, it is the most convenient and widely used method for sealing boxes. We often encounter hot melt on primary packaging like the boxes that protect products like frozen food, cosmetics and toys. These boxes are actually shipped in layers of secondary packaging like inside corrugated cardboard cases or palletized, both of which use hot melt.
The technology used to heat and apply hot melt continues to change, but the overall need and use of hot melt remains the same. If you would like to increase efficiency and add hot melt equipment to your packaging application, please give us a call or send us an email.