Managing Your Glue Usage in Packaging

Hot melt adhesive is not cheap and you may notice that the prices are only going up. What purchasing agents might not know, is that a lot of packaging lines are using more glue than is actually needed. There are a few simple ways to manage your actual glue usage and help cut costs to manage your budget.

Nozzle Diameter

The first step in managing your glue usage, is knowing the diameter nozzle tip you are using in your packaging lines, and understanding why you are purchasing that size. A lot of times, our sales reps will get calls from customers that want to buy larger size nozzle tips because their line operators are saying there is not enough glue being released on the cartons. Obviously, as you increase your nozzle tip diameter, the more glue you are going to use overall and increase your yearly costs for adhesive. This can also cause several other issues, such as potential sealing issues if the hot adhesive does not have enough time to dry as it moves along the cartoner. If your line operators are asking for larger diameter nozzles, question them as to why.

Evaluate Set-up

If your line operators are stating that the glue is not keeping the packaging closed, which is why they need larger nozzles, evaluate your setup. Check the distance your gun applicator is to your carton and at what temperature you are heating your adhesive. If the adhesive is not hot enough and your gun is too far away from the application site, the adhesive could be cooling before it even hits the carton which is why it is not creating a tight seal. Simply increasing your heating temperature or moving your gun applicator closer to the end application site could solve this issue. You could also be putting down too much glue already. If you have a high-speed packaging line, and put down too much glue, the speed will not allow time for the large amount of glue to dry.

Change Your Filters

Another simple solution to managing your glue usage, is to check both your tank and gun filters. If your nozzles are clogging frequently, causing the line operators to buy larger diameter nozzles, they may be clogging due to char. Char is a typical occurrence in hot melt packaging, but the transfer of most char can be prevented by regularly changing your tank and gun filters. These filters will extend the life of both your modules and nozzles.

For more information or tips on how to increase your packaging line efficiency and lower your costs, call a Universal Systems representative at (561) 272-5442 or email us at sales@ussefl.com.

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The Importance of Utilizing Cross-Referencing

The packaging industry is entering the time of year when budgets are getting tight, but replacement parts are still needed. Universal Systems SE will cross-reference any of our competitor item numbers and get you high quality replacements. Cross-referencing Nordson item numbers to Universal Systems SE item numbers will help to lower your cost and keep your packaging lines running longer!

You will also notice that our competitors change their part number often. This is why we offer the search bar on our website for any cross-reference numbers you might have. Some of the most common cross references are listed below. If you purchase any of the parts listed on a regular basis, please feel free to call us today! We guarantee that all of our products are quality control tested before leaving our facility and we stand by all of our products with strong warranties.

Adhesive Systems:

P10, 1022234, 1022235, 276881, 276882, 276883, 276884, 276885, 276886, 276033, 276034, 238310, 243666, 168204, 166535 à ALL of these item numbers match USSE # D100-644

Heated Hoses:

4 Ft. Hose:

107288, 129556, 100120, 274791, 276151 –> 4104

6 Ft. Hose:

107286, 129557, 100121, 274792, 276152 –> 4106

8 Ft. Hose:

107287, 129559, 100122, 274793, 276153 –> 4108

10 Ft. Hose:

107289, 129561, 100123, 274794, 276154 –> 4110

12 Ft. Hose:

107310, 129562, 100124, 274795, 276155  –> 4112

16 Ft. Hose:

104008, 129564, 100125, 274796, 276156 –> 4116

20 Ft. Hose:

223838, 223836 –> 4120

24 Ft. Hose:

129565, 100832, 100126, 274797 –> 4124

Applicator Guns:

H200 1 Module AO/AC

8503717, 8505756, 8505768 –> 39105

H200 1 Module (AO/SC)

274596, 224939, 8503591, 8503686 –> 39107

Modules:

H200 (AO/AC)

1052927 –> 29215

H200 (AO/SC)

272282, 276119, 326583, 331979, 1048115, 2210, 2219, 2400, 2410 –> 29219

 

For any other questions on cross-referencing, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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In-Line Gun Filters

There are a couple different types of filters that you need to change out regularly on your adhesive melter system. One is a tank filter, which we describe in a previous article: The Importance of Tank Filters. The second, is the in-line gun filter. This is the filter that goes between the hot melt gun applicator and heated hose. This is the last line of defense against char being transferred through the module and potentially clogging the nozzle.

There are a three different in-line filter assemblies that are available for your hot melt system: Straight, 45 Degree & 90 Degree. The first is a filter assembly with a straight connector from the gun to the hose. This straight fitting is used when guns line up directly with hoses, typically applying the glue straight out to onto the boxes. The other two filter assemblies offer a 45 degree and 90 degree fitting that allows you to connect the hose to the gun at an angle. These filter assemblies are mostly used on setups where the applicator guns are either above or below the packaging line.

Each filter assembly is available with 50 mesh, 100 mesh and 200 mesh filters. The replacement filters are sold separately in packs of 5 for easy installation so that you do not need to switch out the entire assembly. The filter is easily screwed into the top of the filter body as seen below. Please make sure that you lubricate the o-rings before installation to help you for future filter changes.

In-Line-Filter-Assembly-90-Degree In-Line-Filter-Assembly-45-Degree In-Line-Filter-Assembly

For more information on which in-line filter assembly is best for you, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Line Operators: The First Line of Defense

Understanding hot melt tank systems is no simple task. It usually takes years of experience to learn how to effectively manage adhesive systems and keep your packaging line running efficiently and effectively. Universal Systems SE understands that new line operators come into work and might need help learning which items to replace and how to replace them the correct way. That is why we offer technical support to all of our ProBilt™ customers!

There are several maintenance tasks that we recommend be completed on a regular basis to keep your adhesive system free of char and debris, which is the number one culprit in bringing down a line. Below is an easy maintenance checklist that each line operator should have in hand.

We recommend that you print this checklist out and give it to every shift that operates the packaging line. Keep in mind that changing out items such as gun heads, modules, filters and pumps all require you to clear the old lines and remove the air pressure before re-installation. Releasing the air pressure and removing all old adhesive will ensure that all seals stay intact and reduces the char transferred from the old to the new parts.

If you need help changing out parts or have questions about which items need to be changed regularly, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Troubleshooting Tips for Packaging Line Issues

Since Universal Systems SE offers technical support for all of our customers, we get several calls per day with all different kinds of technical issues that line operators experience. Because many packaging lines run 24/7, without regular maintenance of key products there will always be issues after a certain period of time. As always, we recommend changing your filters, nozzles and modules when needed to eliminate any potential issues. However, there may be other parts on your packaging lines causing these issues.

For example, if you are experiencing a dripping or not fully functional module, it is most likely not an issue with the module itself. Especially since all products go through a vigorous quality control process before leaving our facility. Because the modules are air open and spring close, there are a few items to check before switching out the module. First, Universal Systems SE recommends that you check the solenoid valve. The solenoid valve is the air supply that runs into the applicator gun and fires the glue onto the box. If the solenoid valve fails, it will not generate air power to fully open the module. If the solenoid valve is weak, it will not fully exhaust all of the air out of the module, and the module piston will not seat properly, causing a drip. Another potential issue could be that char or debris has been transferred from the tank into the gun and has gotten stuck in the spring close. This piece of char, no matter how small it could be, can limit the spring from fully closing causing “dripping”. Spring tension on the gun module being set too low could also cause “dripping”, so make sure you try to adjust that before switching out modules. Finally, if the line operator has not gone through the correct steps to change out the module, the module could be compromised. The line operator needs to make sure that they lower the air pressure used on the tank before switching modules. If they do not, they could potentially send glue into the air chamber of the gun when removing the old module.

Another common technical issue is that the heated hoses are either not heating or not heating to the correct temperature. The first step is to check and ensure that the hose zone is not set to “off”. If it is, turn the hose zone to “on”. Then, you should check to make sure all connectors are securely tightened and the controller settings are correct. If all of those are working, you next need to check the ohms reading on the hose heater and hose RTD, and all of the board fuses.  A USSE technical support representative can walk you through this check process and help identify the real issue.

For more information or if you need technical support not mentioned, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com

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Piston Pump Troubleshooting

There are several things that can cause a piston pump to stop working. The most common reason is that it is clogged. Unfortunately, not all line operators take the time to close the lid on a glue tank. With a lot of carton dust in the air at any facility, this dust gets into the glue pot and melts in with the glue. When the pump shifter runs to pump the glue from the pot into the hose, that carton dust gathers around the pump which can cause it to seize. The simple solution to this is to make sure that all shift line operators are diligent about closing the tank covers, that’s why they are on there.

If carton dust is not your issue, and the pump fails, below are a few other possible causes and the corresponding solutions.

  • Adhesive not sufficiently heated – check the tank temperature and required melt temperature of your adhesive and set accordingly.
  • Inadequate or no input air to pump – increase the air pressure from the plant air supply and see if the pump will run.
  • Dry running – when a tank drops below a certain adhesive level in the pot, the pump does not have enough glue to operate at full capacity. The glue that runs through the pump acts as a padding so that the shifter does not pound against the top and bottom of the pump itself. When that padding is less, the pounding shifter can cause damage to the magnets and create an issue with the shifter. The only solution to this is to get a new shifter and potentially invest in an auto fill on-demand system that fills the glue into the tank for you, leaving less pressure on the line operators to fill the pot.
  • No Tank Screen or Clogged Tank Screen – the tank screen lives at the bottom of the tank and is the first line of defense against any foreign debris getting into the pump. Sometimes the tank screen gets removed or never cleaned. That can cause debris build up and seize your pump. It is easily cleaned by lifting out of the empty tank and then cleaning the tank with Purge Plus™.
  • Clogged Tank Filter – the tank filter screws into the side of the tank and filters the glue after it leaves the tank. If the tank filter is clogged, then the adhesive will back up in the pump, causing the pump to seize.
  • Pump solenoid is not on – if the tank is not within 35 degrees of the setpoint temperature on the control panel, the pump solenoid will not turn on. Check the setpoint temperature and make sure it is correct. If the setpoint temperature is correct and reading properly, then it might be a failed solenoid that needs to be replaced.

 

If you go through all of these troubleshooting steps and still have an issue with your pump, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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How to Prevent Your Glue from Stringing

One of the most common issues that many packaging line operators experience with their adhesive melter is stringing. Stringing is when the adhesive is applied to the box, but before the flaps are closed on the cartoner, the glue starts to dry and string like cotton candy floating through the air.

There are a couple of fixes for this issue. Whether you are using a straight, right angle or swirl pattern nozzle, try moving the applicator gun closer to the box flap where you are applying the adhesive. The stringing could be caused because it is travelling too far of a distance from the applicator gun to the box. The shock from hitting the cooler factory air could be causing it to lose viscosity and start drying before it even hits the box. Not only will that cause stringing, that might also compromise the integrity of the glue hold on your product packaging.

Another cause of stringing glue could be temperature. Every adhesive is different and each one might require a different melt temperature. In order to keep the adhesive a consistent viscosity, make sure that the temperature on your glue tank and applicator guns are set correctly per the adhesive requirements. If the adhesive is too viscous then you might need to increase the tank temperature or change to an adhesive with a lower viscosity. If your tank temperature is correct, but your guns are not hot enough, then the glue could start to cool while travelling from the tank to the applicator gun. In this scenario, you would see that the thickness of the glue as it leaves the nozzle. Some line operators might try fixing the issue by putting a larger diameter nozzle on the module, which could be a temporary fix, but the real issue could be the temperature setting on the gun. Simply increase the gun temperature as needed to ensure a smooth, consistent adhesive flow.

There could also be an issue with the adhesive you are using on your packaging line. Like many products, if the adhesive is too old, has been sitting for too long, or has been heated and cooled too many times, this could cause stringing. We recommend that you drain all old adhesive from your tank, clean the tank with a cleaner such as Purge Plus™, and refill with fresh adhesive.

Universal Systems SE recommends trying to correct stringing if it is happening to your packaging line. Some line operators may think it is not that big of an issue, or they might blame the adhesive manufacturers, when in fact it could be a simple and important fix.

For more information or technical support to help you better understand how to fix your stringing glue, please call Universal Systems SE at (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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What Diameter Nozzle Should You Use?

Hot melt adhesive application nozzles, or nozzle tips as they are commonly called, are the component that apply the glue onto boxes in packaging lines. Universal Systems nozzles are made out of brass with stainless steel tips to withstanding any beating they might take from box flaps in the packaging line.

Nozzles comes in many shapes and sizes, and are usually the part on the adhesive system that is most experimented with. Most nozzles are easily changed out by simply unscrewing them from the module. Other nozzles, like the ones on reduced cavity, zero cavity and ProBead modules are called integrated nozzles. We sell replacement nozzle kits for integrated nozzles that include the nozzle tip, needle, brass needle guide and installation tool.

The diameter of the nozzle tip determines the amount of adhesive that is distributed onto the box flap. Because you can easily switch them out, most line operators experiment with diameter to enhance productivity. For example, smaller, more precise glue application will require a smaller diameter nozzle. Larger, faster cartoners, will most likely run larger diameter nozzles to distribute a greater amount of glue and quickly seal boxes. Keep in mind that the larger the diameter nozzle, the more adhesive your tank will process. So make sure that your line operators are keeping a close eye on the adhesive level in the tanks. Dry running a machine can compromise your pump and create a costlier repair.

Because most adhesive systems run 24/7, the nozzle is the most commonly clogged component on your line. This is due to char or debris travelling from the tank, through the hose, into the gun and through the module. Because the nozzle is the smallest orifice on your system, most char will get stuck and you will be unable to get a consistent adhesive flow. Universal Systems SE offers nozzle cleaning kits that you can purchase instead of replacing nozzles. However, most line operators find the cleaning of nozzles a tedious process, even though when done correctly it works. Nozzle cleaning kits can save you money in the long run on replacing nozzles.

Another important aspect of nozzle diameter correlates to the size of the mesh in-line filter used on your system. The larger the diameter nozzle, the lower number mesh you should use. The smaller the diameter nozzle, the finer mesh you should use.  For example, with a .024 diameter nozzle, you should have a 50 mesh filter size. With a .012 diameter nozzle, you should use 200 mesh filters.

For more information about what diameter nozzle you should be using, call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Water Wash Heated Hoses vs. High Flex Heated Hoses

Universal Systems SE manufactures our ClearFlow™ line of heated hoses. ClearFlow™ hoses can be used to transfer many different types of heated materials, however the most common is adhesive. There are two different types of heated hoses that USSE manufactures, high flex and water wash. Water wash, also known as washdown hoses, are manufactured with the same high-quality materials as our high flex hoses, but with a secure water wash connection between the hose and glue head. They are also encased with state of the art, high temperature, extremely durable, waterproof jacketing.

The main question that we get from customers is: why would we need a water-resistant hose? These are not hoses that get submerged under water. These water-resistant hoses, are used in facilities where machines are required to get washed down during or after operation. Hence the name water wash. For example, any type of food manufacturing plant such as ice cream, frozen food, cheese, etc. would be required by the FDA to wash down their equipment regularly. These wash downs impact all of the equipment in the facility, so if you are purchasing a water-resistant heated hose, you will also need a water-resistant gun applicator. The washdown gun applicator will also have the special waterproof jacketing on the cordset and water-resistant adaptor that fits with the hose. As displayed in the picture below.

All ClearFlow™ water wash hoses are manufactured with PTFE Teflon® inner cores and RTD temperature area-sensing. They have a maximum operating temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, maximum operating pressure of 1,500 psi and are 240v. Universal Systems SE manufactures our washdown hoses in multiple lengths that range from 2 feet to 24 feet long.

If you are interested in getting pricing on a ClearFlow™ Water Wash heated hose, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Preventative Tips to NOT Char Your Glue

One of the most dangerous, yet inevitable, occurrences running hot melt systems in your packaging lines is char. Universal Systems SE has updated technology running in our ClearFlow hoses that reduces char, however the main char that runs through the hoses comes from the tank itself. Once your tank is infested with char, no matter how efficiently your hoses and guns run, there is always the potential to transfer this char onto your packages. You also run the risk of char clogging your nozzles and modules, which can back up through your guns and kill your pumps. Our Universal Systems SE technicians have seen it all. That is why we have created a list of preventative tips that each line operator should follow to effectively reduce char and keep your ProBilt® system running at top capacity.

Preventative Maintenance

Universal Systems Se recommends a complete hot melt system cleaning at least twice a year using our Purge Plus system cleaner.

Contaminated Adhesive

Hot melt adhesive should always be stored in a strong container such as a heavy-duty plastic waste container. Do not set boxes or open bags of adhesive on the floor or on the top of the container. The container should be labeled “Adhesive Only” and include your adhesive part number.

Low Quality Adhesive

With hot melt adhesives, higher price usually means higher quality, the opposite is also true. Adhesive manufacturing is a highly un-regulated industry and many companies use low cost waxes and fillers in their products to reduce cost. These products tend to burn quickly. Due to the fillers and heavy waxes, low cost adhesives can greatly reduce your adhesive mileage whereas high quality adhesives are lighter and have a lower specific gravity. The bottom line is a higher dollar per pound does not necessarily translate to higher packaging costs. We also recommend that you do not mix old adhesives with new brand adhesives. Please read our past blog to help you understand why.

Old Equipment

Hot melt systems are not cheap, so most of the ones in operation today have been on their packaging lines for 10 – 20 years, whether they are running properly or not. That means that most likely, these older machines have char built up in their tanks. It may be time to evaluate the performance and efficiency of your aging equipment and trade up to a new ProBilt®.

To get the latest pricing on ClearFlow hoses, Purge Plus system cleaner or ProBilt® adhesive melters, please email sales@ussefl.com. If you are experiencing issues with char, please feel free to call one of our technicians at (800) 848-5018 and we would be happy to help you.

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