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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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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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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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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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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Remote Buying & Troubleshooting is the New Reality

After the world shut down in 2020, then slowly started to reopen, it became clear that certain job roles no longer needed to be in an office and could work from home. For the packaged goods industry, that impacted purchasing agents. Now, as maintenance managers run the floor and manage the inventory, purchasing agents are at home trying best to communicate the company needs to suppliers. Realizing the potential that purchasing departments might rely on supplier websites, here at Universal Systems, we focused on updating our website and making sure that there are competitor OEM cross reference numbers easily searchable throughout the site. We also have sales reps that can handle almost any product question and return quotes within 24 hours.

Another impact the pandemic has had on the packaging industry is workforce. There might not be as many skilled and experienced engineers on the floor to troubleshoot issues as they arise. As a manufacturer, we have also experienced setbacks with sending technical reps out to facilities to help them troubleshoot. In an effort to virtually help our customers, we provided YouTube videos on how to set up our ProBilt line of tanks, how to program our control boards and how to set temperatures. We also have several very skilled engineers in house that can walk customers through any issue they may be experiencing. We’ve found ourselves utilizing technology more and more for troubleshooting. Since less techs are allowed in facilities, we have started doing virtual meeting via Facetime or through texting photos. Both have shown to be pretty effective.

Hopefully, one day soon, we get back to workers being allowed to be in the office to physically check inventory and see what they need to order. But until then, we will continue to help our customers as much as we can remotely. If you have any hot melt questions, please feel free to reach out to sales@ussefl.com.

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When to Use Micro-Adjust Modules

Hot melt system modules are located on the front of your applicator guns. There are several different types of modules and in most cases, they can be easily replaced on the manifold versus replacing the entire gun assembly. Changing out a module is a more cost-effective way to increase productivity and lower glue costs. Typically, modules need to be replaced when they are having glue dripping issues or major leaking from the nozzle. This is caused by normal wear or char getting stuck in the piston chamber, not allowing it to seat securely.

When replacing a module, you have the option of buying a standard case sealer module or a micro-adjust module. This refers to the module’s adjustment cap on the module body. A standard case sealer module comes pre-set and typically needs no adjustment. This is our most popular style module. A micro-adjust module cap is typically sold on Zero Cavity or ProBead Reduced Cavity modules. These modules have a user-friendly adjustable screw top that changes the pressure of the glue through the nozzle. This allows the operator to dial in a precise glue bead. Typically, zero cavity and ProBead reduced cavity modules have micro-adjustable caps for this reason. For example, they are used on medication boxes or beauty supplies. Another advantage to a zero cavity or ProBead reduced cavity micro-adjust module is the self-cleaning functionality, limiting charring and clogging.

For more information about micro-adjust modules please reach out to a technical sales rep at sales@ussefl.com or call (561) 272-5442.

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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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When to Replace a Module

One of the most commonly replaced items on any hot melt packaging line is the module. Typically confused with an applicator gun head, the module attaches to the front of the applicator gun and dispenses the glue through the nozzle and onto the applicable surface. If you are experiencing clogging issues with your hot melt line or dripping from the tip of the nozzle, most likely the module has reached it’s end of life and needs to be replaced.

Replacing a module is fairly simple. First make sure the air is disconnected from the applicator. Always wear Kevlar gloves and eye protection when replacing any parts on your active hot melt system. The parts get hot and extending downtime might not be an option, so operator safety is very important. Then, remove the front two screws from the module and pull the module off the surface of the gun manifold. Make sure that you use the new o-rings and screws that come in your new module replacement kit. This will ensure that the new seal is tight and will not leak once operations restart. Also, make sure you are replacing the existing module with the correct replacement module. Below is a list of module options:

Finally, we also recommend to put a new nozzle on every new module. This will ensure that no clogging will occur. If you have a zero cavity or ProBead module, then the nozzle will already be attached.

If you need any more information about modules for your packaging line, please email sales@ussefl.com or call (561) 272-5442.

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