Starting Back Up After a Pandemic

This is most definitely a new reality that we are all facing. Never before have so many companies had to shut down several, if not all, of their packaging lines because of a global pandemic. However, it was a scary and necessary measure taken to prevent further outbreaks of COVID-19. Now, as we slowly start to reopen as a nation, so does our packaging facilities. State by state, Governors are rolling out the reopening phases that each company, both essential and non-essential must follow.

With the reopening happening, that may mean you are going to run into a few speed bumps. As we all know, machines that typically run seven days a week, don’t like being shut down for three months. Especially if they are not shut down and cleaned out properly before they sat around idle. So, when you switch the power button back to “ON”, everything might not turn green.

In an effort to help with troubleshooting, we have put together a quick list of potential fixes.

1. CLEAN YOUR TANK. We cannot stress this enough. Even if your team drained the glue in the tank reservoir before shut down, there will still be old residue that will impact your restart. Cleaning your tank is fairly simple. First, make sure to detach all guns from the hoses before running the cleaner through. Utilizing our Purge Plus cleaner, fill the tank reservoir and heat. Place the end of the hose inside a bucket and flush the cleaner through the tank and out through the hose.
2. CHANGE ALL FILTERS. This includes both the tank filter and in-line gun filter. Starting with new fresh filters is the smart way to go.
3. NOZZLES MIGHT GET CLOGGED UPON INITIAL RESTART. Nozzles have small orifices that dispense the glue onto packages. If there is any left-over char in the tank from restart, the nozzles could get clogged up first. Try switching the nozzle to see if that fixes the issue.
4. REBUILD KITS. There are a few items that can be rebuilt on your adhesive melter system. For example, your pump. If you think that your seals have dried up from sitting idle through the down time, and you have a skilled mechanic trained to work on the equipment, try ordering a rebuild kit. This will save you money on purchasing a new pump.

If you experience any other issues during your restart, please call us directly at (561) 272-5442 and a technician will walk you through troubleshooting any issue. Stay Safe!

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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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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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Have Spares on the Shelf

As we navigate through this pandemic of 2020, we are noticing more and more packaging partners not getting the budgets to do much of anything with their packaging equipment. Even with the increase in demand for consumer goods like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, many packaging lines have limited shifts due to social distancing guidelines, making sure to keep their employees safe and healthy. As the country starts to slowly re-open, so will packaging lines…and nothing good comes out of a glue pot that has been sitting idle for over 6 weeks. That is why our number one recommendation to all facilities, other than to clean the pots before restart, is to make sure to keep spares on the shelf!

The most common hot melt equipment that should be replaced upon restarting a line are tank filters and in-line filters. Those filters will help with any char that is created once the line starts back up and running again. Another recommendation is to clean the pot with Purge Plus. It is so important to get the old glue out of the pot, before putting the new pellets in. It is also smart to keep spare modules and nozzles on the shelf. Those items can easily clog with char. Luckily, Universal Systems keeps over 10,000 items in stock and on the shelf for easy shipment whenever you need them.

If you are getting ready to restart a line and have any questions on best practices or the steps you should take to ensure a smooth manufacturing process, please call to speak with a technical rep at (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Hunting Down Old Adhesive Melter Parts

An interesting fact about the packaging industry that most people don’t realize, is that purchasing agents become avid internet hunters when it comes to finding parts for their old equipment. There are several resources out there, the largest being eBay, for purchasing agents to find and buy parts for their old adhesive melters. The problem is, when buying from a bid platform, you never know what you are going to get. If you are looking for an old part, for a melter that is more than 20 years old, the part you find online could either be used or the wrong part. Also, with most online bid platforms, you get what you get. There are no returns or exchanges for your actual part. And in most cases, you get what you pay for.

Universal Systems SE realizes how important it is to be an online resource of purchasing agents, which is why we have invested in becoming “searchable”. In the last couple of years, we have launched a new website, added more products, and increased the number of cross-reference IDs on our website. We have added pictures, spec sheets and custom contact forms to help purchasing agents get exactly what they need. We are also working on making sure that we show up in the search results when purchasing agents Google old part numbers or manufacturers.

The benefit of buying from USSE is that all of our equipment is new, in stock and you can talk with a technician to make sure it will fit with your current equipment. Another key aspect of working with USSE is our staff of knowledgeable engineers that have been around adhesive melters and packaging line equipment for over 40 years. If you have a question about your old melter, we are most likely the only company in the industry that can answer it.

To test out the knowledge of our technicians, give us a call at (800) 848-5018. We are certain we can get your old equipment back up and running in record time.

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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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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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How to Keep Old Melters Operable

Do you have an old series 2300 or 3000 melter that you are still using but need to find parts for? If you do, your packaging line is running a melter that is 15 – 20 years old. That means that your line operators are maintaining your packaging lines well and spending money in the right areas to keep efficiency and durability a priority. With that said, not everything will last forever. While you can probably keep the control panels of the 2300 or 3000 melter, some of the internal and exterior parts may need to be replaced. The reality is that Nordson® no longer supports these tanks. However, Universal Systems SE does. Universal Systems SE manufactures pumps, filters, hoses, guns, modules and nozzles that are compatible with your old melters.

Pneumatic Pumps

The first thing to go on your old melter, will most likely be your pump. Once that stops working, it will become very clear that your OEM no longer manufactures replacements for that part. So now you have to decide between purchasing a new melter from them for $15,000+, or trying to replace your pump. Universal Systems SE manufactures new series 2300 and 3000 pumps for a fraction of the price of a new Nordson® melter. Check out our full line of pneumatic pumps.

Actuator

If you have experience with rebuilding pumps, Universal Systems also manufactures the pump shifter and fork for the ProBilt™ series 2300 and 3000 pumps. This is another item you will not be able to find with the OEM because it has been discontinued.

Tank Filters

Since your series 2300 or 3000 melters have been operating on the line for so many years, your line operators probably change out the tank filters frequently. As the years have gone by, you may find it more difficult to find reasonably priced, or readily available tank filters. Universal Systems manufactures the tank filter assemblies, filter cores and filter screens to fit your series 2300 and 3000 melters.

Same Footprint

If you have gone through all of the steps to fix the problem with your old melter and find out that it is the control panel, which has been discontinued, Universal Systems SE has a solution for that as well. Our ProBilt™ melters have the same footprint and dimensions as your current series 2300 or 3000 melter. That means that your NEW ProBilt™ melter, that comes with a 10-year heater warranty, will fit right in where your old melter comes out.

For more information or to contact a technician that can help you troubleshoot issues with your old melter, call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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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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Melt Rate vs. Pump Rate

When purchasing a hot melt adhesive system, it is important to know your desired melt rate and pump rate. It is also important to understand the difference.

All Universal Systems SE ProBilt™ tanks are equipped with a 14:1 ratio pneumatic pump assembly. Pneumatic pumps are most common and have a maximum pump rate of 75 lbs. per hour. No matter what the tank capacity is, whether it is 12 lb., 15 ob., or 20 lb., the pump will max out at 75 lbs. If you need to pump more adhesive then that per hour, you will need to transition to a gear pump system with a larger tank capacity.

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.

A common misconception is that the on-demand autofill system, the ProBilt™ Phoenix, will have a larger melt rate and pump rate. That is incorrect. The tank capacity on any auto fill system is the same as a regular tank such as the ProBilt™ 20. However, the advantage to the auto fill is that the line operators will not have to watch the adhesive level in the tank as closely. The vacuum system connected to the tank will sense when the adhesive level is low and automatically fill the tank. This helps eliminate dry running and pumps will last longer. However, the pump rate on this system will still max out at 75 lbs. per hour.

For additional information about melt rate and pump rate on all of our ProBilt™ tanks, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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