Remote Buying & Troubleshooting is the New Reality

After the world shut down in 2020, then slowly started to reopen, it became clear that certain job roles no longer needed to be in an office and could work from home. For the packaged goods industry, that impacted purchasing agents. Now, as maintenance managers run the floor and manage the inventory, purchasing agents are at home trying best to communicate the company needs to suppliers. Realizing the potential that purchasing departments might rely on supplier websites, here at Universal Systems, we focused on updating our website and making sure that there are competitor OEM cross reference numbers easily searchable throughout the site. We also have sales reps that can handle almost any product question and return quotes within 24 hours.

Another impact the pandemic has had on the packaging industry is workforce. There might not be as many skilled and experienced engineers on the floor to troubleshoot issues as they arise. As a manufacturer, we have also experienced setbacks with sending technical reps out to facilities to help them troubleshoot. In an effort to virtually help our customers, we provided YouTube videos on how to set up our ProBilt line of tanks, how to program our control boards and how to set temperatures. We also have several very skilled engineers in house that can walk customers through any issue they may be experiencing. We’ve found ourselves utilizing technology more and more for troubleshooting. Since less techs are allowed in facilities, we have started doing virtual meeting via Facetime or through texting photos. Both have shown to be pretty effective.

Hopefully, one day soon, we get back to workers being allowed to be in the office to physically check inventory and see what they need to order. But until then, we will continue to help our customers as much as we can remotely. If you have any hot melt questions, please feel free to reach out to sales@ussefl.com.

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Top 5 Tips to Hot Melt Machine Maintenance

Packaging lines are complicated pieces of machinery and knowing the ins and outs of each component is important. When you install a new hot melt system onto your packaging line, there are 5 helpful tips to take into consideration to ensure smooth operation and getting the most out of your equipment.

Read and Keep the Manual

The best practice for maintaining your hot melt tank is to read the manual and keep it handy. So many times, maintenance managers will install the tank, but not read the instructions on how to wire it or program it. That can lead to so many issues. In other instances, a tank may be running for some time, but someone hits a button accidentally and changes a setting, then doesn’t know how to change it back. If only they had read the manual or kept it on hand. It sounds like such a common-sense thing, but oftentimes manuals are discarded with the shipping crate. For this reason, we keep a digital manual on our website for anyone to reference.

Replace the Filters

Preventative maintenance is one of the most important tasks to keep your machine running efficiently and reduce down time for your packaging line. When your tank filters are clogged, that is good, it means that they are doing their job and filtering out char. Changing them on a regular basis and spending a small amount on a tank filter will save you thousands in the future.

Monitor Your Hot Melt System

Line operators are tasked with monitoring tanks on a daily basis. It is important to make sure that the pump is pumping smoothly, the solenoid is not lagging and the guns and hoses are heating to temperature and staying there consistently. Even a minor change in any of those tasks can mean that it is time to proactively replace a component, or at least make sure there is a back up on the shelf.

Know Your Options

Knowing your options ties all three previous tips together. If you have read the manual, you will know what your options are when something goes down. If you are doing preventative maintenance, then you know it is not the tank filters. And if you are monitoring your system, you know what components you replace most often and what inventory you have on the shelf. In addition, you should also know what options you have should you need to replace your current system. Is the current technology working for you or do you want to upgrade to an auto-fill system? It is always good to be prepared and know your options.

Listen to Your Workers

Line operators are on the front lines, literally. They watch particular lines and machines on each line all day, every day. They know what parts are running effectively and where the problems may lie. It is important that you listen to them. They might not be the maintenance manager by job title, but they are the most knowledgeable about the equipment they are in charge of and their opinion should be the first requested.

 

For more tips on keeping your hot melt systems running to the best of their ability, please give us a call at (561) 272-5442 or email tech@ussefl.com.

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When to Replace a Module

One of the most commonly replaced items on any hot melt packaging line is the module. Typically confused with an applicator gun head, the module attaches to the front of the applicator gun and dispenses the glue through the nozzle and onto the applicable surface. If you are experiencing clogging issues with your hot melt line or dripping from the tip of the nozzle, most likely the module has reached it’s end of life and needs to be replaced.

Replacing a module is fairly simple. First make sure the air is disconnected from the applicator. Always wear Kevlar gloves and eye protection when replacing any parts on your active hot melt system. The parts get hot and extending downtime might not be an option, so operator safety is very important. Then, remove the front two screws from the module and pull the module off the surface of the gun manifold. Make sure that you use the new o-rings and screws that come in your new module replacement kit. This will ensure that the new seal is tight and will not leak once operations restart. Also, make sure you are replacing the existing module with the correct replacement module. Below is a list of module options:

Finally, we also recommend to put a new nozzle on every new module. This will ensure that no clogging will occur. If you have a zero cavity or ProBead module, then the nozzle will already be attached.

If you need any more information about modules for your packaging line, please email sales@ussefl.com or call (561) 272-5442.

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How to Change Out a Melter Pump

There are several reasons why a melter’s pump might stop working. The most common reasons are clogging of the ball and seat from foreign matter such as carton dust, and the actuator clogging due to dirty or oily air. No matter what the reason, if your pump stops pumping it needs to be replaced. Obviously, it much more cost effective to change out a pump then to replace the entire unit. However, it is not always easy to switch out a pump, especially if you are new to the line. Below are a few tips to help ease you through the process.

  • Make sure the circuit breaker on the front of the unit is set to OFF once the applicator has reached normal application temperature.
  • Shut OFF the input air to the pump.
  • Set the pump regulator to zero and trigger all guns to relieve system pressure.
  • When removing the old pump, rotate it slightly to break the suction and then pull it straight up and out.
  • When installing the new pump, make sure to torque the screws 15-16 ft-lbs.
  • Connect the pump electrical plug to tank receptacle and turn tank back on.
  • Once the tank board reads that the tank has reached set temperature, wait 15 minutes. This will allow the glue around the pump hydraulics to get to temperature.
  • After waiting 15 minutes, reinstall the air regulator and connect the airline and activate air.

 

If you have any further technical questions and want to speak with a technical sales rep, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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The Importance of Product Support

Universal Systems SE has been manufacturing hot melt equipment since 1981. Starting with hoses and nozzles, then moving into applicators, pumps and tanks. Our first ProBilt tank was launched in 1990. Since then, our melter has only had a couple of generational upgrades. We believe that this is what sets us apart from other hot melt equipment manufacturers in the industry today. We have never believed upgrading our equipment or technology so much that it makes our old tanks in operation obsolete. We have added features and improved upon what we initially launched in 1990, but we have not let technology negatively impact the operational ease of our machines.

USSE believes in the importance of long-term product support and cross compatibility. There are hot melt system manufacturer’s in the industry, like Nordson®, who have discontinued not only production but also product support of their old melters. Both the 2300 series and 3000 series melters, while discontinued by Nordson®, are still in operation in hundreds of packaging facilities across America. Unlike Nordson®, Universal Systems still supports those old melters because we appreciate the fact that many of these melters, similar to the ProBilt melters, continue to run even 20+ years after initial operation. We are one of the only manufacturers in existence to still make and service 2300 & 3000 series pumps.

We also believe in product uniformity across all of our melters. That is why when we designed our melters, we made sure that all of Universal Systems’ ProBilt machines run the same control boards, pumps and tank filters. In most cases, facilities run several ProBilt melters, but only need to stock 1 or 2 of each spare part. That uniformity creates a streamlined and more simplistic inventory process.

As we move deeper into 2021 and our new normal continues to change, think about how the importance of long-term product support and a streamlined inventory process can help keep your packaging lines up and running. For more information about Universal Systems and our ProBilt line of melters please email sales@ussefl.com.

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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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When You Should Use a Pattern Controller

Pattern controllers come on the packaging lines themselves and not typically with a hot melt application system. But, while it is not something that many hot melt manufacturers make, it is very important to the glue application process.

Pattern controllers are used for specific glue applications and patterns. The latest pattern controllers have 4 channel controller capability to do both time and distance-based application programming. They can store up to 9 programs and have the capability of operating in “stitch mode” for substantial glue savings. Another unique feature is the low speed cutoff in distance mode to keep the glue off the side guides when the machine is slowed.

So, when do you need to use a pattern controller and which options do you need? Below are the definitions of both constant speed and variable speed controllers to help you figure out which option is best for your application process.

Constant Speed

Constant speed pattern controllers are also known as time-based controllers. The glue is dispensed consistently between .001 – 9.999 seconds, depending on the time that you set. They are designed to trigger a 24VDC Solenoid Valve and have on the fly program adjustments, so nothing is set in stone. Most constant speed pattern controllers have up to 4 programmable glue pattern events available and up to 9 programs can be stored in memory and remain in memory even after the system is shut down.

Variable Speed

Variable speed pattern controllers come with an encoder and are also known as distance-based. This means that the glue can be dispensed in set distances apart from the last application. Variable speed pattern controllers measure in tenths of inches, trigger a 24VDC Solenoid Valve and the encoder offers 1200 pulses per revolution. There is a low speed cut off and easy to use program adjustments. Like the constant speed controller, the variable speed controller has 4 programmable glue pattern events and 9 programs can be stored in memory and remain in memory even after the system is shut down.

There is also a hybrid version pattern controller that allows you to do both constant speed and variable speed.

To learn more about pattern controllers, their benefits and which one is right for you, please call (561) 272-5442 or reach out to a Sales Representative at sales@ussefl.com.

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How to Obtain Maximum Adhesion on Your Packaging Line

As we return back to work from the shut down earlier this year, facilities may be experiencing several new situations or issues that they have either never dealt with before, or maybe they are new to the industry and need help with understanding how best to operate a high-speed packaging line. We are hearing from a lot of our customers, both old and new, that good adhesion has become a problem. Even though we are moving into the summer and the weather is no longer a potential cause of adhesion issues, there are a few other checklist items that you can walk through to help correct any lack of adhesion.

The first thing to check is the distance of your application gun and nozzle tip to the container or carton you are trying to glue together. If there is too much distance between the tip and the box, the glue could be cooling mid-air, not allowing the cartoner to get full adhesion when moving the box to the folding stage. This solution could be a simple mounting adjustment to lessen the space between the nozzle tip and the box.

Another item to review is the viscosity and melt rate of the glue you are using. It is imperative to educate your line operators on the glue specifications to make sure they are heating it to the correct temperature. On the flip side of that, make sure they are not over-heating it and making the glue too thin, creating a longer open time for the adhesive. Knowing the specifications of your glue will also help you to regulate the amount of glue you are using on your applications, hopefully keeping your operating budget down.

In addition to the above listed items, we also highly recommend regular maintenance on your hot melt system to limit the amount of char building up in the tank. Performing regular maintenance such as changing out tank filters, in-line filters and cleaning out the tank quarterly, will lessen the effects of char through the line. If you do have a lot of char build up, that can and will transfer through the system and onto the box. Too much char mixed in with your glue can be causing adhesion issues. Once the glue dries and hardens around the char, the char can separate from the box.

If you are experiencing any adhesion issues or have any other troubleshooting questions that you would like to review with a technician, please call Universal Systems SE 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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Chillers on Your Manufacturing Line

Now you may be asking yourself, why am I reading about chillers on a hot melt blog? The answer is easy, Universal Systems SE manufactures heated hoses that can be used for transferring many more substances other than glue. And when there are applications that do not include glue, the manufacturing lines may need chillers.

Our heated hoses, while mainly used for high speed packaging glue application, can also be used for heating and transferring a plethora of other materials. Our Teflon lined hoses can transfer anything from candy, make up, wax and much more! Depending on the use and application of different substances, the packaging line can be filling at high rates of speed. Heating and filling formed containers for candle wax, as an example, can be tricky because in this application the wax needs to cool quickly so that it can be formed, packaged and shipped out to end users. One of the most common questions we get in this situation is: How can I keep my forming operation running at a high-speed pace from start to finish? The answer here is chillers. Essentially how a chiller works is it is built into the conveyor line. So, the product would be heated in a melt pot, transferred through the heated hose, dispensed into containers, and then fed along a chiller that is built into the line. The product goes from hot to cool in a matter of seconds.

If you have any other questions on how we can help you keep your production lines running at high-speed capabilities, please reach out to sales@ussefl.com or call to speak with a technician (561) 272-5442.

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