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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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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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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The Right Melter for Your Packaging Line

Finding the right melter for your packaging line can impact not only your productivity, but also your bottom line. Most commonly, maintenance managers and buyers simply replace the current OEM melter with the latest model. That is not always necessary. Universal Systems SE ProBilt™ melters have the same footprint as most all Nordson® systems and can easily fit into where the original tank is positioned. Just because your current packaging line has a Nordson® melter does not mean you have to replace it with another expensive Nordson®. Plus, all of our ProBilt™ melters are in stock and can ship same day!

There are several key points to take into consideration when choosing a hot melt system for your packaging line. The most important are: Melt Rate, Durability, & Cost-Effectiveness.

Melt Rate

The melt rate is the rate at which the tank melts the adhesive pellets as they are filled 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 being 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 or the 12 lb. (6 Liter) unit which melts 15 lbs. per hour.

Durability

Depending on how many shifts you are running, you need a melter that will work consistently and effectively. All ProBilt™ melters come with a 10-year heater warranty, which is the highest in the industry. In addition, all melters come standard with 4 hose / 4 gun capability and a set-back functionality that allows for easy start up and shut down. ProBilt™ melters are constructed out of 316 stainless steel, not only for its sleek look that will seamlessly blend with your packaging line, but also for its durability and sustainability on your production line floor.

Cost-Effectiveness

The economy is a huge question mark lately, being impacted by the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. With that, large CPGs are cutting back not only in personnel but in spending budgets for packaging. These tighter budgets won’t always allow for a buyer to simply purchase the latest Nordson® melter. Here at Universal Systems SE, we have seen more and more companies trying to repair older melters and plug any current issues with band-aids to stretch their fixed budgets as far as they can. Since we manufacture parts that are compatible with old Nordson® tanks, we have been able to help a lot of companies cost effectively navigate the times. In addition to our parts business, all of our ProBilt™ series melters are cost effective replacements for any Nordson®. We are currently running a 15% off and free shipping in the USA promotion to help out CPGs and support US based companies.

To learn more about Universal Systems SE’s ProBilt™ series of melters and components, please reach out to a customer service representative at sales@ussefl.com or call (561) 272-5442.

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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 Change Out a Melter Pump

There are several reasons why a melter’s pump might stop working. The most common reasons are clogging of the ball and seat from foreign matter such as carton dust, and the actuator clogging due to dirty or oily air. No matter what the reason, if your pump stops pumping it needs to be replaced. Obviously, it much more cost effective to change out a pump then to replace the entire unit. However, it is not always easy to switch out a pump, especially if you are new to the line. Below are a few tips to help ease you through the process.

  • Make sure the circuit breaker on the front of the unit is set to OFF once the applicator has reached normal application temperature.
  • Shut OFF the input air to the pump.
  • Set the pump regulator to zero and trigger all guns to relieve system pressure.
  • When removing the old pump, rotate it slightly to break the suction and then pull it straight up and out.
  • When installing the new pump, make sure to torque the screws 15-16 ft-lbs.
  • Connect the pump electrical plug to tank receptacle and turn tank back on.
  • Once the tank board reads that the tank has reached set temperature, wait 15 minutes. This will allow the glue around the pump hydraulics to get to temperature.
  • After waiting 15 minutes, reinstall the air regulator and connect the airline and activate air.

 

If you have any further technical questions and want to speak with a technical sales rep, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Know Your Strengths

Knowing your strengths and the value add that you provide are important keys to success for any business. Universal Systems SE’s strength is the in-house manufacturing, QA process and customer service that we provide to our customers all year. The value add is the high-quality material and product that we put to market at a more affordable rate than most of our competitors.

Every day we have maintenance managers or co-packers calling in to find out if we can support their old Nordson® tank. The simple answer is yes. We can support old melters and usually fix any issues that your hot melt applicator may be having. On our website, we offer a search functionality that cross references thousands of product IDs from other manufacturers to make it easy to see which USSE parts are a perfect fit for your old system. However, not only do we support the old, but we manufacture new equipment that will function the same as your old and hopefully last longer. In order to help increase the life expectancy of your hot melt equipment, we offer a recommended maintenance schedule for any maintenance manager so that they can keep up with the life of their products and know when to replace important parts.

Another value add is the fact that we stock over 10,000 items at all times. Not only do we have hundreds of different styles and diameter nozzles in stock, we also stock pumps, control boards, filters, hoses, applicator guns, modules and we always stock tanks. Unlike most manufacturers, that make to order tanks, hoses and guns, we have one of the largest in stock inventory of any other hot melt manufacturer. And everything ships from the US, which means that you can typically get it within the week or overnight service if needed.

If you are ever in need of technical support for your old melter or hot melt equipment, do not hesitate to call us at (561) 272-5442. We are here to use our strengths, to help you add value.

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