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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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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How to Choose the Best Applicator for your Packaging Line

Oftentimes, a packaging line comes with standard, one module applicator guns. While that is the most common applicator on the market, there are several other application options available.

When figuring out your packaging line configuration, it may become apparent that a standard one module applicator will not work for you. It really depends on what you are closing up with hot melt. Are you running a case sealer? What size and style boxes are you sealing? How many edges do you need to hit with the glue and how do they fold together in the line?  All of these questions need to be addressed before purchasing an applicator.

To help out, below is a list of some other common case sealer applicators. All of these items are in stock and ready to ship!

Low Profile

Low profile guns are one of the most commonly used guns on cartoners. Here at Universal Systems SE, we manufacture two module and four module versions to allow for easy glue distribution on small to large box sizes. Their name comes from their unique gun body design which is angled on each side. The angled design sides allow for the box flaps to flawlessly close while the gun is applying the adhesive on to the boxes.

Multi-Module Applicators

If you are running a high-speed line creating cartons that have multiple folds, such as a Douglas case erector, you may want to consider installing multiple module applicators. Universal Systems SE manufacture 2 module, 3 module, 4 module and 5 module applicators. There are various lengths between centers for each model. We recommend that you review all gun specs on our website.

 

For any other questions you may have regarding purchasing a new gun for your application, please give us a call at (561) 272-5442. We are happy to help create the best and most efficient hot melt application system possible.

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When You Should Use a Pattern Controller

Pattern controllers come on the packaging lines themselves and not typically with a hot melt application system. But, while it is not something that many hot melt manufacturers make, it is very important to the glue application process.

Pattern controllers are used for specific glue applications and patterns. The latest pattern controllers have 4 channel controller capability to do both time and distance-based application programming. They can store up to 9 programs and have the capability of operating in “stitch mode” for substantial glue savings. Another unique feature is the low speed cutoff in distance mode to keep the glue off the side guides when the machine is slowed.

So, when do you need to use a pattern controller and which options do you need? Below are the definitions of both constant speed and variable speed controllers to help you figure out which option is best for your application process.

Constant Speed

Constant speed pattern controllers are also known as time-based controllers. The glue is dispensed consistently between .001 – 9.999 seconds, depending on the time that you set. They are designed to trigger a 24VDC Solenoid Valve and have on the fly program adjustments, so nothing is set in stone. Most constant speed pattern controllers have up to 4 programmable glue pattern events available and up to 9 programs can be stored in memory and remain in memory even after the system is shut down.

Variable Speed

Variable speed pattern controllers come with an encoder and are also known as distance-based. This means that the glue can be dispensed in set distances apart from the last application. Variable speed pattern controllers measure in tenths of inches, trigger a 24VDC Solenoid Valve and the encoder offers 1200 pulses per revolution. There is a low speed cut off and easy to use program adjustments. Like the constant speed controller, the variable speed controller has 4 programmable glue pattern events and 9 programs can be stored in memory and remain in memory even after the system is shut down.

There is also a hybrid version pattern controller that allows you to do both constant speed and variable speed.

To learn more about pattern controllers, their benefits and which one is right for you, please call (561) 272-5442 or reach out to a Sales Representative at sales@ussefl.com.

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How to Obtain Maximum Adhesion on Your Packaging Line

As we return back to work from the shut down earlier this year, facilities may be experiencing several new situations or issues that they have either never dealt with before, or maybe they are new to the industry and need help with understanding how best to operate a high-speed packaging line. We are hearing from a lot of our customers, both old and new, that good adhesion has become a problem. Even though we are moving into the summer and the weather is no longer a potential cause of adhesion issues, there are a few other checklist items that you can walk through to help correct any lack of adhesion.

The first thing to check is the distance of your application gun and nozzle tip to the container or carton you are trying to glue together. If there is too much distance between the tip and the box, the glue could be cooling mid-air, not allowing the cartoner to get full adhesion when moving the box to the folding stage. This solution could be a simple mounting adjustment to lessen the space between the nozzle tip and the box.

Another item to review is the viscosity and melt rate of the glue you are using. It is imperative to educate your line operators on the glue specifications to make sure they are heating it to the correct temperature. On the flip side of that, make sure they are not over-heating it and making the glue too thin, creating a longer open time for the adhesive. Knowing the specifications of your glue will also help you to regulate the amount of glue you are using on your applications, hopefully keeping your operating budget down.

In addition to the above listed items, we also highly recommend regular maintenance on your hot melt system to limit the amount of char building up in the tank. Performing regular maintenance such as changing out tank filters, in-line filters and cleaning out the tank quarterly, will lessen the effects of char through the line. If you do have a lot of char build up, that can and will transfer through the system and onto the box. Too much char mixed in with your glue can be causing adhesion issues. Once the glue dries and hardens around the char, the char can separate from the box.

If you are experiencing any adhesion issues or have any other troubleshooting questions that you would like to review with a technician, please call Universal Systems SE at (561) 272-5442 or email tech@ussefl.com.

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RTD Sensors

RTD Sensors (resistance temperature detectors) are used in hot melt packaging systems because of their precision in sensing and proportioning temperature. They consistently maintain a temperature control stability of +/- 1-degree Fahrenheit. With the ever-increasing price of adhesive, it is important that RTD sensors are used in all of Universal Systems’ hot melt hoses and glue applicators for steady adhesive application. When combined with USSE’s patented AccuScan™ solid-state control system, RTD sensors provide precise bead uniformity for all of our ProBilt™ applicators.

Since RTD sensors are so key to the adhesive application process, it is important to check them first whenever you notice glue inconsistencies. If you see that your glue bead is not sticking properly or getting clogged, it could be caused by inconsistent glue temperature. There are several causes of inconsistent glue temperature. For example, if your tank operators are opening the cover to add glue, that will cause a temperature change. RTDs control that process, by notifying the heater to turn on and run longer when those situations occur. If your RTD is weak, then the heater will not be able to maintain steady temperature. It is the easiest, most overlooked and one of the least expensive components in your application process, but is worth it’s weight in glue!

When it comes to understanding the components that make up your adhesive application system, we believe that knowledge is power. So, if you have any questions, or think that you may be having issues with your RTD sensor, do not hesitate to call Universal Systems at (800) 848-5018 to speak with one of our technicians. We can walk your line operator through testing RTD sensors and how to switch them out correctly and safely.

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The Importance of Using Aluminum for Manifolds

Universal Systems SE manufactures high quality hot melt application manifolds that will work with most all hot melt application systems. We understand the importance of durability, consistency and effectiveness in packaging manufacturing, which is why we use 6061T aluminum when making all of our manifolds.

What is a Manifold?

When evaluating what you need for your hot melt application system, it is important to understand each item that makes up the application gun. The manifold is the aluminum gun body, that houses the heater & sensor, and is where the modules mount.

Why do we use Aluminum?

Aluminum is used on all of our hot melt applicator manifolds because it is an excellent conductor of heat and dissipates heat very efficiently. Aluminum also has a very high strength to weight ratio, meaning that although it is light-weight, it is extremely strong. Its strength is what allows for peak performance during the rigorous packaging process.  It is also non-toxic, cannot burn and is easily recyclable.

Why do we use 6061T Aluminum?

All of Universal System’s ProBilt™ manifolds are manufactured using 6061T aluminum. 6061T aluminum is aviation aluminum and used for the building of all jet aircrafts. This will extend the lifespan and durability of the manifold and increase it’s on the floor performance.

For more information on how to buy a hot melt gun applicator or manifold, please reach out to sales@ussefl.com or call (561) 272-5442 today!

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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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Custom Manifolds & Gun Applicators

There are not many manufacturers in the hot melt industry that have the ability to work with clients and create custom manifolds and gun applicators to fit their unique needs. Universal Systems SE has that ability and is willing to pair up our engineers with our client’s team to ensure that we manufacture the exact applicator needed for any job.

Over the last forty years, Universal Systems SE has manufactured an array of different custom manifolds and gun applicator systems for different types of industries. Not only can our custom gun manifolds distribute adhesive onto boxes in packaging lines, but they can be used for distributing make-up, candle gel, etc. Depending on the viscosity and melt rate of the substance needed to make the transfer, our custom manifolds and applicators will work with several different types of materials.

The custom manifold and gun process is simple. Contact one of Universal Systems SE’s customer service representatives, by either calling in to (561) 272-5442 or submitting a custom gun online form. You will then be connected with a USSE mechanical engineer. After all of the client’s needs are communicated with our engineering team and all questions answered, USSE will provide the customer with a custom manifold drawing for approval. The drawing will include dimensions of the manifold, spacing of modules, type of modules and all cordsets that are included and the location of those cordsets. Once the drawing is signed off on by the customer, we then manufacture the manifold body. After a vigorous quality control process, each custom manifold is inspected and tested to ensure all dimensions are correct and that the custom gun matches the approved drawing. Once the manifold passes all initial testing, modules are added and the custom gun is created and tested internally by two different QC Engineers. Once there is approval by both engineers, the final product is cleaned and ready for shipping.

The normal process for custom manufactured manifolds and completed guns is four to six weeks, with extra time potentially added in depending on customer turnaround time for drawing approvals.

If you are interested in learning more about the types of custom manifolds and gun applicators that Universal Systems SE can engineer for you, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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