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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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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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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How to Effectively Clean Your Melter

Keeping your hot melt adhesive system clean may not be on the top of your priority list. However, take a look at your melter now, it is probably bronzed and blackened with old melted glue and char in the glue reservoir. That is what travels through your application system and onto your boxes. That is also what is potentially causing clogging issues and why you are replacing so many nozzles. Even though your melter looks like this now, it is possible to clean it and positively impact the longevity of your system. We recommend that you clean your system at least once every quarter. If you are running 24-hour shifts, 7 days a week, then you might want to schedule cleaning once a month.

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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Managing Your Packaging Line in the New Year

It’s finally here, 2021! It felt like 2020 took forever to end, but now that it is gone, we need to make 2021 the best and most efficient year yet. Due to the struggles that we all faced last year, company strategies have changed, not because we wanted them to but because they had to. And like most industries, the packaging industry has also seen a lot of changes. We are now allowed less people in the office and on the line. Since workers have to be 6 feet apart, we cannot operate as many packaging lines as we want or need to. That means that we are getting less budget to spend on materials, supplies and equipment. Now, operating managers are finding themselves being more particular about cost and efficiencies. That is where Universal Systems comes into the mix. Our ProBilt line of hot melt equipment is made in the USA and has some of the strongest warranties in the industry. We have been manufacturing since 1981 and know what it means to work hard and take pride in that hard work. As we move out of a pandemic and into a new world, we have a few suggestions to help manage our “new normal” in the packaging world.

Catalog Your Inventory – while this may seem like a tedious task, it is worth it in the long run. Once you know what you have and how much you are using of an item, you will be able to estimate your budget needed for the new year.

Research Your Vendor Options – change is hard, but sometimes the best options are ones you haven’t even known about. Take some time to price out vendors for your packaging needs. There may be options out there that you don’t even know about that can save you a lot of money and be just as efficient and high quality as what you have been buying.

Learn How to Troubleshoot & Maintain – Pre-COVID, when the economy was thriving and budgets were high, packaging facilities had maintenance managers, operations managers, line operators, buyers, etc. Now, you may find yourself doing a little bit of everything. At Universal Systems, we believe that knowledge is power. The more you know about the equipment you are running and how to maintain and fix the issues will save you from overspending in the future. We have technicians that have over 40 years of experience in hot melt, that are here to help you if needed. Just call (561) 272-5442.

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