How to Determine Heated Hose Length for Your Packaging Line

One of the most important things to consider when setting up your packaging line is the best length hose that you should use for both the top and bottom applications. While most maintenance managers think the longer the better, that is not always the case. Heated hoses should be treated with care to ensure durability and run time. At Universal Systems SE we recommend that you map out where the tank will be situated and then where the guns will be mounted. When setting up the top applicator line, make sure to account for hose mounting brackets and try not to make too many turns. The hose line should run as direct as possible to the applicators. We recommend that the hose mounts be hanging mounts for top applications. This will cause no kinks or damage to the exterior hose casing and ensure the long run life of the hose.

When setting up the bottom line, the hose should be mounted down the side of the packaging machine itself. You can use hanging mounts here as well. Make sure not to lay or run the hose on the floor. Also, do not coil the hose under the tank. If you have any leftover hose that you need to coil…your hose is too long. Running the hose on the ground and coiling the heated hose could cause a plethora of issues such as power shortages, heating issues or tripping hazards, all dangerous to your employees. Make sure to keep the area around the tank and hoses clean and hazard free.

The most common hose lengths sold are 6’, 8’, 10’ and 12’. However, Universal Systems does manufacture 2’, 4’, 16’, 20’ and 24’ hoses that we stock. Our biggest piece of advice is to take your time measuring and setting up the mounting brackets. This will ensure that your hoses will last longer and your packaging line will be as efficient as possible.

For more information on our USSE heated hoses, call a sales rep today at (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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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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Spring Cleaning for Your Hot Melt Systems

It’s that time of year again, when the days are longer and everyone is motivated to do some Spring Cleaning. That should also apply to your hot melt equipment. Like most machinery, your hot melt tanks, hoses, guns, filters and nozzles need regular preventative maintenance and cleaning. Below is the maintenance recommendation schedule that Universal Systems SE provides to all of its customers regarding our ProBilt line of products.

ProBilt Melters

  • Replace tank filter every 500 hours or 3 months, whichever comes first
  • Clean tank with Purge Plus every 1,000 hours or 3 months, whichever comes first

                 *stock 2 – 3 tank filters per tank and 1 Purge Plus cleaner

ProBilt Pumps

  • Clean and Flush Pump every 2,500 hours utilizing Pump Service Kit B100-900
  • Replace Pump every 5,000 hours or until Pump stops pumping

*stock at least 1 pump to reduce any potential down time

ProBilt Hose

  • Flush out hoses when cleaning tank with Purge Plus every 1,000 hours

                 *make sure to disconnect hoses from guns when flushing with Purge Plus

                *stock at least 1 hose per length needed to reduce any potential down time

In-Line Filters

  • Replace every 150 hours

*stock 5 spare filters for each filter body

Gun Applicator

  • Only replace when it stops functioning –either the heater or RTD

*stock 1 spare gun applicator per line

Module

  • Replace module every 1,000 hours or every 6 months, whichever comes first

                *stock 2 – 6 modules depending on how many modules are on each gun being used

Nozzles

  • Replace nozzles every 120 hours or when they clog

*stock a minimum of 6 nozzles per line

                *If you clean nozzles, we recommend cleaning them with kit # 1658 every 100 hours or when they clog

 

To keep your stock up to date please give us a call at (561) 272-5442. A USSE sales rep will quote you pricing and lead time on anything you need.

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When to Use a Water-Washdown Hose & Gun

Water washdown hoses and guns are important for plants that package items required by the FDA to get washed down with water either during or after operating hours. Water washdown hoses and guns are different than our standard high flex hoses and standard guns. The difference between the two is easy to tell. Washdown hoses and guns have a high temperature, extremely durable, waterproof jacketing encasing the electronics of each item. The connectors for each are also different than a standard set up. For washdown hoses and guns, the connectors will be a round pin connector, lined with a silicone seal and screw on connection plate for a water tight fit. Standard hoses and guns come with a rectangular connector that simply snaps into place. Washdown guns are also equipped with water tight gasketing on either end plate to ensure that the heating element and RTD are safe from any high powered washdown practices.

 

For more information on Universal Systems’ wide range of washdown products, please contact a sales rep at sales@ussefl.com

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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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How to Regulate Your Glue Usage

Many customers call in and request a larger size glue nozzle, because they are having issues with the amount of glue they are putting onto boxes in their packaging line. While it can be effective to increase the diameter orifice of the nozzle to put out more glue, it might not always be the best solution long term. The best chance of long-term cost savings and overall efficiency of your packaging machinery, is to find the actual cause of your glue nozzle issue.

Glue nozzles are merely a pointing mechanism for your hot glue. They create the direction the glue flows and the amount of glue allowed to flow. However, it is important to note that air pressure can also impact the amount of glue sent out through the nozzle. If the air pressure is increased, the rate at which the glue flows out of the nozzle will increase, ultimately putting more glue on the sub-straights of your boxes.  If you have increased air pressure, and still not enough glue is getting dispensed, you could be too far away from the sub-straights you are trying to glue. If possible, move the glue gun head closer to the boxes. If your packaging line does not allow for movement of the gun head, then a larger orifice nozzle may be the solution.

Charring or clogging could be a potential issue as well. If your nozzles are getting clogged, or even partially clogged, you may think that getting a larger size nozzle is your only solution. That is not always the case. It is recommended that you first check your in-line gun filters. If the filter is clogged, not enough glue could be running through to the nozzle. Tank filters should also be changed regularly. They prevent charring from the glue reservoir itself to pump through the hose, into the gun and ultimately through the nozzle. If your glue reservoir is charred up from years of use, scheduling a quarterly maintenance cleaning could also help with the amount of glue and quality of glue you are putting on your boxes.

For more helpful tips and a full preventative maintenance schedule, contact a Universal Systems sales rep at sales@ussefl.com

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Lowering Downtime on Your Packaging Line

As CPGs continue to change their packaging lines to try and cut costs but stabilize runtime, there are a few things to consider when analyzing the cause of machine downtime and how to prevent it.

The below statistics were taken from the Fall 2021 issue of OEM Magazine:

Causes reports by respondents at CPG companies as the most common cause of packaging machine downtime: 26.3% general wear and tear, 21.1% operator error, & 22.1% product changeover.

General wear and tear is pretty self-explanatory. This would depend on how many hours and days per week a facility runs their packaging lines. If they are running 24/7, then the percentage of general replacement parts purchased will be higher than a plant that is only open 8 hours per day, 5 days a week. To lower downtime, each facility should stock at least 1 -3 replacements, at all times, of the following items: Heated Hoses, Glue Applicators, Modules, Nozzles, Tank filters, and In-Line filters. Another way to lower downtime is preventative maintenance. If CPGs were to prioritize preventative maintenance, then their packaging machinery would last longer and lead to less overall downtime. We recommend PM practices that include changing tank and gun filters, as well as maintaining an even level of heated glue in the glue reservoir of the tank. If done on the regular, general wear and tear percentages would go down.

Operator error is also another large concern for CPGs and the cause of most packaging line downtime. That is because Nordson® and other large corporate OEMs are making their melters more technologically advanced.  Unfortunately, this increased technology does not come with increased training. While technology can create less human interaction, if the line operators are not trained on how to work the equipment, it can lead to more errors. Also, several of the new systems need to run on a network in order to work, so if there is any network downtime, that will now impact the packaging machinery and shut down the line. Universal Systems has maintained our simple to use systems and provides YouTube videos on how to work our machines, along with error codes and how to navigate the control board.

The final most common cause of packaging line downtime is product changeover. To lower overall costs, many CPGs use the same machines to package multiple types of items, which requires a changeover of parts. This downtime might be harder to avoid, however if the line operators are well versed in the machinery and understand the usage need of the machine in all areas, this can be lowered.

For more information on our Universal Systems line of hot melt products, please contact a sales rep at 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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The Importance of IN STOCK

Over the last two years, as both manufacturers and consumers, we have learned a lot about the importance of having our most vital items in stock. As we head into the end of 2021 and move into 2022, we have to believe that getting products for both our business and personal lives is going to get increasingly difficult. As large US CPGs have relied more and more on packaging machinery made in China, like Nordson®, they are finding it increasingly difficult to get products. Large corporations have been incentivized for years to move their manufacturing facilities overseas, not only because labor is cheaper, but raw material is cheaper and more readily available. With that, however, the cost of their products has increased due to tariffs and greed, and they are now unable to ship to the US, putting some large CPG facilities in a bad situation.

Here at Universal Systems, we have prided ourselves on being Made in the USA and stocking thousands of items. We still do and will remain sourcing all of our raw material within the USA, as well as keep our most popular products built and on the shelf for our valued customers that need them in order to keep their production and packaging lines up and running. If there are any CPG companies out there that are having issues getting Nordson® products, please reach out to us. We will quote pricing and lead time within 24 hours.

The importance of “in stock” has never been more valuable. We realize that and are dedicated to continue to invest in stocking products so that our customers can get their most vital items in a timely and cost-effective manner.

For pricing on our most popular products, please reach out to sales@ussefl.com.

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