Best Practices to Ease Supply Chain Burdens

It is no secret that everyone is experience supply chain issues this year. While there may be no end in sight, Universal Systems can only try and help ease the burdens on our end users. Below are a few of the best practices that we have implemented that we can recommend for our customers.

Keep an Open Line of Communication

With several of our competitors experiencing supply chain issues due to their overseas manufacturing and shipping issues in the current cultural climate, Universal Systems, being a USA manufacturer has received a lot of new business from large end users of hot melt equipment who would normally be buying from the big-name brand manufacturers. With the new influx of business, we have been open and honest with customers as to what we stock and what we make custom. If a new customer who is used to buying from Nordson calls and asks us lead time on standard stock items, we are happy to communicate that we can ship same day. However, if they have a custom gun or hose, we are honest regarding lead time and ship dates, normally 3-5 business days.

Plan Ahead

It is so important for companies to try and plan ahead with their inventory. While we realize this may be hard for many buyers due to lack of budget or their inability to get “out of the weeds” from being so far behind during Covid lockdowns, it is the only way to ensure there is no downtime on your packaging lines. Universal Systems offers all of our customers a preventative maintenance schedule and inventory recommendation list, so that you know what to keep on the shelf based on the equipment you are running.

Try New Products

Many of us get stuck in our ways and don’t realize there are other options out there that might improve our operations or way of doing business. Now that some large brand name companies, who have spent years manufacturing overseas, are feeling the crunch of no inventory due to low supply chain, many packagers should see this as an opportunity to work with Universal Systems. We have been manufacturing hot melt equipment in the USA for over 40 years and are well versed in packaging line needs and set ups. We manufacture most of the same products as our largest competitors and stock over 10,000 items at all times.

Think Outside the Box

With over 40 years of experience in packaging equipment, Universal Systems’ technicians are most skilled in thinking outside of the box. Whether it is troubleshooting an issue with an old machine that has been around since the dawn of day, or setting up a new line configuration, sometimes the most common answers don’t always work. We urge our customers to keep an open mind and work with us to figure out the best solutions to your packaging needs.

For more information about Universal Systems’ ProBilt line or products please reach out to sales@ussefl.com or call (561) 272-5442.

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Help When You Need It

In the post-pandemic age of industry, every company is finding themselves in need of more help. Whether it is qualified technicians with experience in the field, or technical support and customer service from their vendors. A lot of large companies, like Nordson®, have gotten rid of their technical support and customer service representatives, replacing them with automated systems or remote sales reps that do not have a detailed knowledge of each customers purchase history or equipment needs. That is making it difficult for CPGs to troubleshoot issues or for new maintenance managers to know what to order.

Many line operators of hot melt machines are new to the industry, since companies saw their long-term employees retire during the pandemic. At Universal Systems, we not only stayed open and kept all of our employees during the pandemic, we have kept detailed reports of our customers purchase history, as well as a cross reference list of our products to Nordson®. We are always here to take any technical calls or offer Nordson® replacement parts when you need them. With the “supply chain shortage” impacting all Americans, we made sure to back our bets here at USSE. We have ramped up our inventory by double its normal size to ensure that you can get products when you need them and not be held hostage to overseas competitor parts. We make everything in the USA and use all US suppliers. We stand behind our products and feel certain that we would be able to help you with any issue that may arise with your hot melt equipment.

For any technical support please email tech@ussefl.com or call 561-272-5442.

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Glue Gun vs. Module vs. Nozzle

One of the largest misconceptions of hot melt packaging machinery is that maintenance on a glue applicator gun means replacing the entire assembly. That is not always the case. While sometimes, glue guns do need to be replaced, there are other times when a module or nozzle could be a cheaper solution to your problem.

What’s the difference?

It is pretty simple. The glue gun is the entire assembly (minus the nozzle). This includes the cordset, heating element, RTD, manifold and module. Essentially, if you order a glue gun, once you receive it the only thing you need to do is plug it in, attach the in-line filter assembly though the back fitting, screw on a nozzle and you are good to go. The reason to replace the entire gun would be if you get an error code on your melter main board that the gun zone is either not heating or not reading the RTD. If you get the gun zone heater error, that means that the heating element has stopped working and the gun needs to be replaced. If you get the gun zone RTD error, that means that the temperature can no longer be regulated and the gun needs to be replaced.

However, if you get no main board error code, but your gun is dripping or not dispensing glue at all, that could be a module or nozzle issue.

Modules are the mechanisms that attach to the front of the glue gun manifold to dispense the glue. These modules are operated by air and springs within the module body that control the piston to dispense the glue for easy release and clean cut off. If you are experiencing dripping, or no clean glue cut off, then most likely there is char in the spring that is holding the piston up and leaving the module open. Or, in some cases, the seals within the module could be stiff from usage and wear, and no longer creating the tight seal required for precision dispensing. In either of these instances, the module would need to be replaced.

If you are getting no glue at all to come out of the module, most likely your nozzle is clogged. The nozzle, or tip, is typically attached to the module and can easily be changed by screwing it off and on. In some cases, such as zero cavity or reduced cavity modules, the nozzle is fixed and can only be replaced by rebuilding the entire module, replacing the tip, piston and seals.

If you have any questions about which part of your glue gun you need to replace, please give us a call at 561-272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Cold Weather Impacts to Your Hot Glue Melter

As we move into the holiday season, we also experience a change in the weather. In most places in the US, the winter months mean that the climate inside most packaging plants change. With that, line operators need to take that temperature change into consideration when working with hot glue machines on their packaging lines.

Hot melt consistency, heated hose and gun temperature consistency and glue stringing are all potential problems that maintenance managers can deal with during the winter months. One of the most important things to look at is where your packaging line is located within your facility. Most melters are located at the end of the line, which leaves them close to an exterior wall, door or window. The cold temperature outside could be impacting, not only the viscosity of your glue, but the heating time of your glue and its adhesion ability. Every time your line operator opens the fill door on the hot melt tank, the external air hits the existing glue and cools it off. Even if the lid on your tank is only open for a few minutes, that could impact not only the current glue in the tank reservoir, but the glue you are adding to the tank. If your glue pellets are colder than normal, it will take a longer amount of time to heat them.

Another important task would be to inspect your system setup for any cold joints. A cold joint would be any unnecessary extensions that you have added throughout the adhesive application process. Most cold joints are found on older machines that use larger sized extensions and filter housings. The more cold joints on the system, the more inconsistent the glue will heat and stay heated throughout the entire application process.

If your main problem is glue stringing in the colder months, an easy solution would be to shorten the distance from the nozzle tip to the top of the box. Limiting the amount of time the glue has to travel in the air will help to lessen the problem of stringing, which can cause a weakened seal on the box.

If you have any questions about how to reduce the impact of winter weather on your hot melt system, please reach out to a technical rep at sales@ussefl.com.

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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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