The Importance of Air Quality in Packaging

Air quality is important in all aspects of life, but for some reason usually overlooked in packaging lines. Almost all hot melt application equipment will require air to operate, especially if they are pneumatic. Universal Systems’ line of ProBilt™ hot melt equipment utilizes air in several different points of operation. The pneumatic pumps require air in order to shift the actuator and pump the glue through the system. Also, modules require air to open the piston and, in some cases, even to close the piston. Of the two operations in your hot melt application process that require air, it is most important for the pump to receive clean air.

Universal Systems pneumatic pumps are manufactured with extreme precision and delicacy. The most important part of the pump is the actuator, otherwise known as the shifter. The shifter’s main components are the spool and sleeve, which is how the shifter “shifts”. The spool and sleeve are machined in pairs, hand measured, calibrated, cleaned and assembled. The shifter is attached to the side of the pump. If you have a ProBilt™ tank and pump, take a look at the label on the side of the shifter. It reads: “The air supplied to the pump should be dry, filtered and non-lubricated.” If the air supplied to the pump, that goes through the shifter, is lubricated, your shifter will seize over time. The reason is that the oil in the air will build up in the millimeters of space between the shifter spool and sleeve, not allowing it to smoothly shift. If you do have unfiltered air running to your hot melt pump, we sell a ¼ NPT filter regulator that you can attached to the air lines and filter the air before it goes into the pump. Check it out on our website here.

If you have any questions regarding your pneumatic pump or modules, please call us at (561) 272-5442 and one of Universal Systems’ technicians will be happy to help. You can also email sales@ussefl.com.

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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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When Consumers Can’t Open their Boxes

Have you ever purchased a case of soda or carton of coffee cups and can’t get the box open? Of course, we all have. In the packaging industry, especially for hot melt machine manufacturers, that is a red flag. Whenever we get a box that has too much hot glue on it means that the packaging line is not set up properly or not being cleaned regularly.

If you are wondering why too much glue means that the line is not set up properly or not being cleaned regularly it is because one of two issues is occurring (or sometimes even both). The first issue is most likely that the line operators and/or maintenance managers are not cleaning the tank regularly and the lines are clogging up with char, which will subsequently clog nozzles. Instead of cleaning the tanks and hoses, and replacing the tank filter and in-line gun filters, most operations just buy bigger nozzles. If the diameter of the nozzle orifice is larger, then it will allow through more bits of char and not clog up as easily. Unfortunately, this is not a long-term solution. Putting down more hot glue will drive up the amount that facilities spend on adhesive pellets, and ultimately the annoyance will trickle down to the consumer when they can’t get their box open. The solution is simple…utilize Purge Plus to clean your tank every 1,000 hours. For some facilities that could mean cleaning every quarter and for others that could be twice a year, it all depends on the facility. In addition to cleaning the tank and hoses with Purge Plus, make sure that the tank filters are changed every 500 hours. The in-line gun filters should be changed every 150 hours to ensure that no char travels into the gun applicator, through the module and nozzle and onto the box.

The second issue that could cause too much glue on boxes, is that the line was not set up correctly from initial purchase. A lot of cartoners have standard hoses, guns, modules and nozzles that will work for most case packers, but not for all. Make sure to take into consideration the temperature of your packaging facility (which can impact the adhesion and viscosity of the glue as it travels through the application process), the distance that the guns are to the box upon application, and the surface area of the box you are covering. The longer the bead of glue you place, the less likely you are to need a larger diameter nozzle. The shorter the range you are covering, you might need more glue to make sure that maximum adhesion occurs, which means you need a larger diameter nozzle.

If you think you are putting down too much glue on your packaging line and need help, call one of Universal Systems’ technicians at (561) 272-5442. We have the most knowledgeable technicians in the business that can help you with almost any question.

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New Year, New Melter

A trend that we were seeing in 2019 in the packaging industry was repair, repurpose, repeat. No one seemed to want to spend the money on new equipment. It did not really come as much of a surprise since the political atmosphere of the United States was so polarizing. With inconsistency in government and leadership, comes inconsistency in the business world. Large CPGs were not interested in allocating budget to new equipment, but trying to repair old equipment.

What large CPGs fail to realize is that band-aiding an issue with a packaging system, only delays the inevitable. Having to invest in new equipment. This process can be a long and tedious one. Getting multiple quotes from different manufacturers and lead times. Also, needing to know availability and compatibility with your current packaging line. The new tank buying process could take months, and if your old equipment fails while in the middle of that process, your lines could be down and production at a standstill. That is a very big risk to take.

At Universal Systems SE, we offer six different hot melt tanks and application systems that could fit almost any packaging line. All of our ProBilt™ tanks are the same physical footprint as most Nordson® tanks and compatible with most Nordson® equipment, both old and new. Universal Systems SE also offers a Trade In Trade Up Program, where you can send us back your old melter, no matter who manufactured it, and we will give you a credit towards your new ProBilt™ tank.

All Universal Systems SE standard ProBilt™ systems are in stock and can ship within one business day of ordering. So, if you are ever in a bind, or your current systems goes down and is unrepairable, we can have you up and running with a brand-new system the next day. The only system that requires a lead time is the Phoenix Auto-fill System, which is usually customized per order.

Another unbeatable aspect of investing in a ProBilt™ systems is the 10-year heater warranty that Universal Systems SE offers. It is the longest warranty in the industry.

For more information on Universal Systems SE’s line of ProBilt™ equipment or how you can get a new melter in 2020, call us at (800) 848-5018 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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How Winter Weather Impacts Your Packaging Line

As we head into the New Year and the weather gets colder, you may be experiencing inconsistencies with the adhesives on your packaging lines. What most line operators and maintenance managers do not realize is that the location of your packaging line in the plant can play a large role in the dependability of your adhesive.

This time of year, we receive several troubleshooting calls regarding hot melt consistency, heated hose and gun temperature consistency and glue stringing. It is important to take the external environment into consideration when attempting the first step in troubleshooting some of these problems. One of the first questions to ask is: where is your packaging line located? For example, if it is at the end of the packaging process, which it most likely is, then it might be on the exterior wall of your plant. Or it might be near an external door or window. If it is on the outskirts of the plant facility, and you are located in a part of the United States that is cold in the winter, then the outside temperature 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. Especially if you are adding in cold glue. If your glue pellets are colder than normal, it will take a longer amount of time to heat them. A solution to this issue would be to invest in an auto-fill hot melt application system. Universal Systems SE manufactures the ProBilt™ Phoenix Auto-Fill Application System. Not only will this system help in the winter months, it helps all year long by drastically reducing the number of times your line operator needs to add glue pellets.

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 used larger sized extensions and filter housings. For example, the older gun filter assemblies had larger filter housings and longer extension joints, that are unnecessary and can inhibit the consistency of hot melt flow. 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.

For any further information on the ProBilt™ Phoenix Auto-Fill Application System, or to speak to a technician about any troubleshooting of your adhesive application system, please call Universal Systems SE at (800) 848-5018 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Utilizing Key Features of the ProBilt™ Hot Glue System

There are a few brands to consider when shopping for a hot melt system for your packaging line. Universal Systems SE’s ProBilt™ product line has been around for over 40 years and has several key features that can help influence purchasing agents, as well as line operators, on why it is the best in the industry.

4 Hose / 4 Gun Standard Capability

Unlike any other hot melt tank option on the market, the ProBilt™ line of melters all come equipped with 4 hose and 4 gun capability. This is a standard option that is usually an add on from other manufacturers, like Nordson®. Nordson® has both the 2 hose/ 2 gun and 4 hose/ 4 gun melters, each differing in price. The ProBilt™ melters all come with 4 hose/ 4 gun capability at a lower price point than any Nordson®. This allows our customers versatility and the option to grow.

Easy to Program Control Board

One of the many benefits to owning a ProBilt™ system is the easy to operate, AccuScan™ Control Board. If you are plugging in a brand new tank, the board will be programmed to our factory settings. The line operator, can scan through the hose, gun and tank settings and set them to the temperatures needed. There are also a few fail safes installed in the machine. For example, if it is a cold start set up, the hoses and tank will heat first, then the guns will start to heat once the hose and tank are within 35 degrees of the set point. The reason for this is so that the gun doesn’t char, since the gun heats up faster than the hose and tank. Once temperature is reached, the “Heat On” light will blink and you are ready to use. The control board also comes equipped with alarm settings and a set back functionality, our next two key features.

Set Back Functionality

The set back functionality is one of the most important features that comes standard on all ProBilt™ tanks. Essentially, when the shift is over and you no longer need to run your packaging line, you push the set back button. This will “set back” the temperature of the tank, hoses and guns to 165 degrees. Allowing the glue already in the system to sit overnight without charring. When the morning comes, or the next shift starts, simply hit the set back button again, and all previous temperature settings will re-engage. This will decrease the start up time on the hot melt system significantly and allow your lines to be fully operational within minutes.

Alarm Options

Another key feature to the AccuScan™ Control Board are the alarm options it provides. The first alarm option allows for the panel to tie to an alarm light in your facility. In case anything happens that stops the system from running effectively, an alarm light can go off, alerting the line operator immediately. Another feature is the ability to tie it to the packaging line itself, called PMI or Parent Machine Interface. Parent Machine Interface will signal the packaging line when the glue is at full temperature thus preventing the line to start up until it receives the signal.

Please watch our video on how to set the ProBilt™ melter temperatures. For more information on our ProBilt™ systems please call today (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com

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How an Auto-fill System Can Increase Safety & Productivity

The most common type of hot melt system used on packaging lines is a manual fill system. With manual fill systems, there are several roadblocks that can occur with safety and productivity that many companies are experiencing. Universal Systems SE took those concerns into consideration when designing our ProBilt™ Phoenix auto-fill system.

It is first important to understand how a hot melt system works. Hot melt adhesive application systems house a Teflon® coated interior tank, where the glue pellets are added and melted. The glue is then pumped out, travelling through a heated hose, into an applicator gun, through a module and nozzle, finally landing the glue at its final destination.

Universal Systems SE has ProBilt™ tanks that range from an 8 lb (4L) capacity, up to a 20 lb (10 L) capacity. Depending on how many hours per day the packaging line is operated, and the size of the glue tank needed, line operators are in charge of making sure that there are always glue pellets in the melter. Running low on glue inside the melter tank can cause a plethora of issues with the system. One of the most common issues is running the pump dry. If a line operator lets the tank run dry and the pump “shotguns”, the pump or shifter can fail. Honestly, that is the most common cause for pump rebuilds that we see in our shop. The easy solution to this is making sure that the tank is always full with pellets.

However, consistent tank filling can increase the risk of other potential issues. The first, is that it increases the risk to employees. Since the tank runs anywhere between 200 – 400 degrees, it is HOT. If a line operator is in a rush or makes one careless move, they can easily be burned by the pot. Another issue is that when you open the tank lid to refill with pellets, cold air flows into the tank and cools down the internal temperature. If the glue is continuously getting hot and cold, it could negatively impact its bonding ability.

These potential issues prompted Universal Systems to develop and release our ProBilt™ Phoenix auto-fill system in 2018. Unlike with manual filling, the automatic filling process does not require the line operator to fill glue pellets directly into the hot tank. Operators fill the free-standing container, which is separate from the tank. The glue pellets are then deposited into the internal pot via the vacuum and wand system when the internal tank glue level is low. The Phoenix is available in two tank capacities, the 15 lb and 20 lb units. Each glue container has maximum and minimum fill lines so that line operators know how much or how little to fill the pellets. Since the containers can hold much more glue than a standard heated pot, line operators no longer need to worry about checking the melters as often as with a manual system. This will also ensure that line operators will not get burned and that the glue inside the pot will stay consistently heated, creating maximum bonding ability.

For more information about the ProBilt™ Phoenix auto-fill system, contact Universal Systems SE at (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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The Right Melter for Your Packaging Line

The scenario is usually the same, a packaging line melter goes out in the middle of the busiest time of year. Most commonly, maintenance directors and buyers simply replace the current OEM melter with the latest model. That is not always necessary. Universal Systems SE ProBilt™ melters have the same footprint as most all Nordson® systems and can easily fit into where the original tank is positioned. Just because your current packaging line has a Nordson® melter does not mean you have to replace it with another expensive Nordson®. Plus, all of our ProBilt™ melters are in stock and can ship same day!

There are several key points to take into consideration when choosing a hot melt system for your packaging line. The most important are: Melt Rate, Durability, & Cost-Effectiveness.

Melt Rate

The melt rate is the rate at which the tank will melt the adhesive you put into the reservoir. This is where the tank capacity comes into play. Before moving forward with any hot melt adhesive system, first you need to understand how many pounds you need to melt per hour. The melt rate is dependent on how many hoses and gun applicators you are running and how many boxes are sealed per minute on your packaging line. The most common tank capacity is the 20 lb. (10 Liter) ProBilt™ 20, with a melt rate of 23 lbs. per hour. If you are only running one line with one hose and gun applicator, then you may only need the 15 lb. (7 Liter) ProBilt™ 15 which melts 18 lbs. per hour.

Durability

Depending on how many shifts you are running, you need a melter that will work consistently and effectively. All ProBilt™ melters come with a 10-year heater warranty, which is the highest in the industry. In addition, all melters come standard with 4 hose / 4 gun capability and a set-back functionality that allows for easy start up and shut down. ProBilt™ melters are constructed out of 316 stainless steel, not only for its sleek look that will seamlessly blend with your packaging line, but also for its durability and sustainability through the tough elements a packaging line ensures.

Cost-Effectiveness

The economy has become a roller-coaster in the last year. With that, large CPGs are cutting back not only in personnel but in spending budgets for packaging. These tighter budgets won’t always allow for a buyer to simply purchase the latest Nordson® melter. Here at Universal Systems SE, we have seen more and more companies trying to repair older melters and plug any current issues with band-aids to stretch their fixed budgets as far as they can. Since we manufacture parts that are compatible with old Nordson® tanks, we have been able to help a lot of companies cost effectively navigate the times. In addition to our parts business, all of our ProBilt™ series melters are cost effective replacements for any Nordson®.

To learn more about Universal Systems SE’s ProBilt™ series of melters and components, please reach out to a customer service representative at sales@ussefl.com or call (561) 272-5442.

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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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Cost-Effective Manufacturing

As we continue through 2019, it is clear that big brand CPG budgets are getting tighter when it comes to packaging. Larger companies are no longer bleeding money on big brands that offer not much more than a brand name and pretty blue logo. We have often asked ourselves how companies like Nordson® can get away with charging so much for the same quality product that Universal Systems SE manufactures. Especially since those big brands are not even manufacturing in the USA. That trend is starting to change.

As the American economy continues to change, it is clear that companies need an alternative to the brand name big price tags. It all comes down to shopping around for quality manufacturing that can be done in a more cost-effective way. And yes…it can be done. Cost-effective manufacturing should be the main focus of all companies when it comes to packaging their products. Americans no longer care about a name, they care about performance, quality and cost. Just because it is the most expensive thing on the market, doesn’t make it the best or most reliable. And that rings true for packaging manufacturers as well.

Many CPGs are losing the battle for shelf space and margin growth, which is increasing the pressure on suppliers such as packaging manufacturers to decrease costs. With more brands on the shelf and less market share, big CPGs need to start thinking smartly about their packaging solutions. It might not be the best idea to bring in a company like Nordson® to customize a hot melt solution that will cost you an exorbitant amount of money and take 6 months to get, when you can go with a company like Universal Systems SE who has engineers with over 40 years of experience that actually understand what you need because they have pretty much seen it all.

Not only is cost-effective manufacturing a pull in the marketplace, but knowledgeable customer service and support. If your packaging line goes down, it could cost you thousands of dollars a minute. A large brand with an untrained rep isn’t going to be able to get you up and running with a phone call. Universal Systems SE will! Think about that the next time you place an order for a new hot melt system or components.

Whatever you might need for your hot melt machines, we manufacture it at our Florida facility. Whether it is heated hoses, applicators, filters, modules, nozzles, etc. We also can walk you through troubleshooting any issues or help you with customized set ups. Call Universal Systems SE today at (561) 272-5442.

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