Universal Systems Plug & Play Machinery

With what some industry professionals are calling “The Great Resignation” driving the packaging industry, it is so important to have equipment that is easy to use and operate. Recent studies report that the labor shortages in the packaging industry are due to employees not returning to work after Covid-induced shutdowns, as well as the increase in quit rates with most new employees not lasting longer than a month. Food industry production lines are reportedly standing idle because of lack of staffing where processors specifically pinpointed high retirement rates. This is a hard reality for many CPGs, and consumers are seeing this direct result in our local grocery and retail stores.

With over 40 years of experience in the hot melt packaging industry, Universal Systems is here to help. We have worked with hundreds of new maintenance managers and plant managers to help them learn about the equipment they are running. Whether they are running a competitor tank with our USSE components or our ProBilt system, we have the skills and knowledge of both old and new equipment to help relieve some of the stress that many companies may be feeling due to the loss of their most experienced workers.

Many CPGs also cite a lack of skilled labor capable of operating and troubleshooting complex packaging machinery. This is why Universal Systems’ line of ProBilt equipment is the perfect match for these end users. Our ProBilt equipment is in fact plug and play, with the easiest controls in the industry and the most flexibility by offering up to a 4-hose capability on all tanks. While many of our overseas manufactured competitors spent the last five years releasing “upgraded” equipment, they have lacked the foresight to see that they have ultimately overcomplicated the machinery for end user operators. Universal Systems’ ProBilt tanks have not changed much in the last 20 years. We have continued to manufacture our easy to program Accuscan control board and standardized components that we have prided ourselves on. Here at Universal Systems, we believe in quality, longevity and sustainability. Our products have proved time and time again that they work hard, for a long time, and without much training needed.

In addition, CPGs have been requesting more online videos and tutorials to help them train their new workforce on the machinery in their packaging lines. Universal Systems has listened to this call and we offer videos online on how to set melter temperature, as well as how the setback functionality on our tanks work.

We are here to support all of our customers, both old and new, as they navigate through their workforce troubles. By stocking over 10,000 items, we also help keep our customers up and running so you don’t have to wait out long lead times for standard operating equipment.

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

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ProBilt Glue Systems Meet the Demands & Needs of Packaging Lines

The trend in packaging for many CPGs has been to move away from in-house packaging solutions and more towards co-packers and contract packagers. Rather than dedicating complete in-house lines, CPGs and processors can be more flexible with their budgets by putting the responsibility of capital investments for machinery in the hands of the contract packagers. In addition, the CPGs no longer have to worry about hiring line operators for the packaging machines. In the last few years, it has become clear that hiring, retaining and training employees is a challenge for every company. CPGs are finding that if they move the responsibility of packaging to contract companies, they no longer have to deal with that potential issue.

The move to contract packaging is not a bad thing for glue equipment OEMs, like Universal Systems SE. We enjoy working with contract packagers because they are equipped with the skills and knowledge to focus on packaging lines and, in most cases, know what they want and need from a hot glue machine, more than a CPG will.

Below is a list of requirements we are hearing about from Contract Packagers for their packaging equipment, and an explanation as to why Universal Systems ProBilt systems will work best to fulfill these needs.

  • Quick changeovers to limit downtime – USSE’s ProBilt systems are plug and play. They are easy to set up and disable for cleaning, preventative maintenance, component replacement, etc.
  • Preventative maintenance schedules – USSE believes that preventative maintenance is key to maintain the efficiency and longevity of any piece of machinery. A hot glue tank is no different. Universal Systems offers up a preventative maintenance schedule upon request, along with recommendations on what parts to keep on the shelf and how many of each part is needed to keep your operation up and running at all times.
  • Streamlined equipment so that system components are interchangeable – Universal Systems prides ourselves in being the most streamlined OEM of hot melt machines in the market. Not only do all of our tanks take the same pumps, filters, valves, etc., all of our components are interchangeable with our top competitors including hoses, guns, modules and nozzles.
  • Versatility for different packaging setups – Universal Systems manufactures over 100 different types of applications options, as well as the option to custom CNC any configuration needed.
  • Easy-to-operate machines – Our ProBilt tanks are by far the easiest in the industry to operate. We focus on longevity and simplicity so that anyone can set up and operate our tanks with ease. We also offer online videos on how to set temperature and utilize our setback feature.

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

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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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Mini Modules and Gun Applicators

Several Years ago, Nordson® introduced the MBII gun applicators and modules. Initially, the small module and applicator manifold was made for packaging lines that were designed with little room for glue application. Then, they started offering them in a low-profile design for case sealers. Over time, Nordson® started using MBII guns and modules as standard equipment on all of their packaging line set ups. Why? Even though it is not clear the need for the MBII in most standard application setups that have room for an H200, the price surely made it a much more profitable product in Nordson’s® arsenal. The MBII is more than double the price of a standard H200 module and gun applicator.

The key question to ask is, when do you need to use a MBII applicator versus a standard H200 applicator? Like we mentioned earlier, a MBII applicator is essential on packaging lines that have about half the space to fit an applicator than typical lines. Not only is the manifold about half the length and height of a standard H200 gun, the modules measure a mere 1” x 2” in size. Additionally, MBII applicators have the filter built into the manifold. This is a space saver because it eliminates the need for the in-line filter assembly off of the back of a standard gun into a hose. This allows for the MBII gun to attach directly to the hose and still be able to filter out all of the char and debris travelling through the hose and into the manifold. MBII guns also are air open, air close systems, so you can only run them if you have your line set up with two air lines running to the gun. MBII modules do still fit all of the standard H200 nozzle tips. So, even though you cannot use your standard H200 module on the MBII manifold, you can use all of your current stock nozzles.

If your new packaging line comes in with a MBII system installed, our recommendation is to measure the space where the applicator is mounted. If you have room for a standard H200 applicator and in-line filter assembly, you can always switch to a standard H200 set up. The only thing you will need to change out is the gun, filter assembly and solenoid. This will save you thousands of dollars in the future…but only if it fits.

For more information about the mini modules and applicators manufactured by Universal Systems SE, please visit https://www.ussefl.com/products/applicator-gun-heads/h201t-guns/#1544128561143-eeff57c6-9818.

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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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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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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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The Importance of Graphite Seals & PTFE in Hot Melt Equipment

Graphite seals and PTFE are used in all of Universal Systems SE’s pumps and modules to increase the longevity and life of those products. But why? In order to understand how we can boast about the quality of our products, it is first important to understand the quality and reasoning behind using certain key components.

Graphite seals are used in both the pumps and modules to create a smooth seal for the piston to move seamlessly through. Below are a few bullet points that explain why this particular component is so important.

  • Excellent heat resistance – up to 500°F – most all hot melt adhesive systems will heat up to 450°F, so even if a packaging line runs at the highest temperature allowed by the system, the graphite seals will remain unscathed.
  • It has a medium to high pressure rating – the maximum operating pressure on any pump should not exceed 35 – 45 psi. The most common operating pressure is 20 – 25 psi. These seals are rated perfectly for this type of application.
  • Excellent abrasion resistance – some packaging lines are not run with the cleanest adhesives, so utilizing graphite seals allows for any adverse environmental condition.
  • Very resistant to chemicals – this allows the end user the ability to not only use multiple types of adhesives, but cleaners as well.
  • Excellent extrusion resistance in severe conditions.

If you are interested in learning more about the components used to manufacture Universal Systems line of ProBilt™ equipment, please call (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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