Managing Your Packaging Line in the New Year

It’s finally here, 2021! It felt like 2020 took forever to end, but now that it is gone, we need to make 2021 the best and most efficient year yet. Due to the struggles that we all faced last year, company strategies have changed, not because we wanted them to but because they had to. And like most industries, the packaging industry has also seen a lot of changes. We are now allowed less people in the office and on the line. Since workers have to be 6 feet apart, we cannot operate as many packaging lines as we want or need to. That means that we are getting less budget to spend on materials, supplies and equipment. Now, operating managers are finding themselves being more particular about cost and efficiencies. That is where Universal Systems comes into the mix. Our ProBilt line of hot melt equipment is made in the USA and has some of the strongest warranties in the industry. We have been manufacturing since 1981 and know what it means to work hard and take pride in that hard work. As we move out of a pandemic and into a new world, we have a few suggestions to help manage our “new normal” in the packaging world.

Catalog Your Inventory – while this may seem like a tedious task, it is worth it in the long run. Once you know what you have and how much you are using of an item, you will be able to estimate your budget needed for the new year.

Research Your Vendor Options – change is hard, but sometimes the best options are ones you haven’t even known about. Take some time to price out vendors for your packaging needs. There may be options out there that you don’t even know about that can save you a lot of money and be just as efficient and high quality as what you have been buying.

Learn How to Troubleshoot & Maintain – Pre-COVID, when the economy was thriving and budgets were high, packaging facilities had maintenance managers, operations managers, line operators, buyers, etc. Now, you may find yourself doing a little bit of everything. At Universal Systems, we believe that knowledge is power. The more you know about the equipment you are running and how to maintain and fix the issues will save you from overspending in the future. We have technicians that have over 40 years of experience in hot melt, that are here to help you if needed. Just call (561) 272-5442.

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When to Call Your Glue Manufacturer vs. Your Packaging Machinery Technician

With the reopening of many packaging facilities in full swing, here at Universal Systems SE, we are getting a lot of technical calls that pertain to glue and not the packaging machinery itself. Not a lot of technicians realize that some of the problems they are experiencing with their equipment are actually being caused by the glue. By the way, this has always been the case. Since knowledge is power, below are 2 issues that we get a lot of calls about that are glue related and not machine related.

#1 Glue Related Issue – Char

Many line operators and line technicians have experienced char in their hot melt application systems and most of them think that the char is caused by the machine. That is not actually accurate. The hot melt tank will heat the glue, but only to the temperature that is set by the operator. It is very important to understand how recommended temperature ranges effects viscosity which allows the glue to run at its optimal level. Most charring is due to overheating the glue. That char will travel through your application equipment and cause clogs which will require you to replace equipment or its components. However, that will not fix the long-term problem of charring. If the charring is not corrected, when you install the new equipment it will clog again. That is not a machinery issue, that is a glue issue. Our suggestion is to speak with your glue provider and find out all of the specifications on the glue you are using such as ball and ring, optimal temperature and viscosity. That will save you a lot of money in the long run and should reduce any excessive charring.

#2 Glue Related Issue – Coagulation

There is no doubt about it, glue is expensive. In most cases, the glue can be more expensive than the application equipment. The reason is because most facilities use a lot of it. As we all know, the world has been a crazy place this year, and with the re-opening of a lot of packaging plants, comes new, reduced operating budgets. We have heard from a lot of customers that in order to save on costs, they have had to change glue, whether it is moving to a more inexpensive glue, or a system that lays down less glue but with a stronger adhesion. Either way, if you change glue and do not meticulously clean your glue application system, you can have coagulation causing clogs. We recommend cleaning your tank and hoses with Purge Plus or a similar cleaning substance before changing glues.

At Universal Systems SE, we are always happy to help with any issues that you might have. But keep in mind that sometimes, your issue might be something that you need to discuss with your glue manufacturer. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions at tech@ussefl.com.

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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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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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The Importance of Graphite Seals & PTFE in Hot Melt Equipment

Graphite seals and PTFE are used in all of Universal Systems SE’s pumps and modules to increase the longevity and life of those products. But why? In order to understand how we can boast about the quality of our products, it is first important to understand the quality and reasoning behind using certain key components.

Graphite seals are used in both the pumps and modules to create a smooth seal for the piston to move seamlessly through. Below are a few bullet points that explain why this particular component is so important.

  • Excellent heat resistance – up to 500°F – most all hot melt adhesive systems will heat up to 450°F, so even if a packaging line runs at the highest temperature allowed by the system, the graphite seals will remain unscathed.
  • It has a medium to high pressure rating – the maximum operating pressure on any pump should not exceed 35 – 45 psi. The most common operating pressure is 20 – 25 psi. These seals are rated perfectly for this type of application.
  • Excellent abrasion resistance – some packaging lines are not run with the cleanest adhesives, so utilizing graphite seals allows for any adverse environmental condition.
  • Very resistant to chemicals – this allows the end user the ability to not only use multiple types of adhesives, but cleaners as well.
  • Excellent extrusion resistance in severe conditions.

If you are interested in learning more about the components used to manufacture Universal Systems line of ProBilt™ equipment, please call (561) 272-5442 or email tech@ussefl.com.

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New Year, New Melter

A trend that we were seeing in 2019 in the packaging industry was repair, repurpose, repeat. No one seemed to want to spend the money on new equipment. It did not really come as much of a surprise since the political atmosphere of the United States was so polarizing. With inconsistency in government and leadership, comes inconsistency in the business world. Large CPGs were not interested in allocating budget to new equipment, but trying to repair old equipment.

What large CPGs fail to realize is that band-aiding an issue with a packaging system, only delays the inevitable. Having to invest in new equipment. This process can be a long and tedious one. Getting multiple quotes from different manufacturers and lead times. Also, needing to know availability and compatibility with your current packaging line. The new tank buying process could take months, and if your old equipment fails while in the middle of that process, your lines could be down and production at a standstill. That is a very big risk to take.

At Universal Systems SE, we offer six different hot melt tanks and application systems that could fit almost any packaging line. All of our ProBilt™ tanks are the same physical footprint as most Nordson® tanks and compatible with most Nordson® equipment, both old and new. Universal Systems SE also offers a Trade In Trade Up Program, where you can send us back your old melter, no matter who manufactured it, and we will give you a credit towards your new ProBilt™ tank.

All Universal Systems SE standard ProBilt™ systems are in stock and can ship within one business day of ordering. So, if you are ever in a bind, or your current systems goes down and is unrepairable, we can have you up and running with a brand-new system the next day. The only system that requires a lead time is the Phoenix Auto-fill System, which is usually customized per order.

Another unbeatable aspect of investing in a ProBilt™ systems is the 10-year heater warranty that Universal Systems SE offers. It is the longest warranty in the industry.

For more information on Universal Systems SE’s line of ProBilt™ equipment or how you can get a new melter in 2020, call us at (800) 848-5018 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Utilizing Key Features of the ProBilt™ Hot Glue System

There are a few brands to consider when shopping for a hot melt system for your packaging line. Universal Systems SE’s ProBilt™ product line has been around for over 40 years and has several key features that can help influence purchasing agents, as well as line operators, on why it is the best in the industry.

4 Hose / 4 Gun Standard Capability

Unlike any other hot melt tank option on the market, the ProBilt™ line of melters all come equipped with 4 hose and 4 gun capability. This is a standard option that is usually an add on from other manufacturers, like Nordson®. Nordson® has both the 2 hose/ 2 gun and 4 hose/ 4 gun melters, each differing in price. The ProBilt™ melters all come with 4 hose/ 4 gun capability at a lower price point than any Nordson®. This allows our customers versatility and the option to grow.

Easy to Program Control Board

One of the many benefits to owning a ProBilt™ system is the easy to operate, AccuScan™ Control Board. If you are plugging in a brand new tank, the board will be programmed to our factory settings. The line operator, can scan through the hose, gun and tank settings and set them to the temperatures needed. There are also a few fail safes installed in the machine. For example, if it is a cold start set up, the hoses and tank will heat first, then the guns will start to heat once the hose and tank are within 35 degrees of the set point. The reason for this is so that the gun doesn’t char, since the gun heats up faster than the hose and tank. Once temperature is reached, the “Heat On” light will blink and you are ready to use. The control board also comes equipped with alarm settings and a set back functionality, our next two key features.

Set Back Functionality

The set back functionality is one of the most important features that comes standard on all ProBilt™ tanks. Essentially, when the shift is over and you no longer need to run your packaging line, you push the set back button. This will “set back” the temperature of the tank, hoses and guns to 165 degrees. Allowing the glue already in the system to sit overnight without charring. When the morning comes, or the next shift starts, simply hit the set back button again, and all previous temperature settings will re-engage. This will decrease the start up time on the hot melt system significantly and allow your lines to be fully operational within minutes.

Alarm Options

Another key feature to the AccuScan™ Control Board are the alarm options it provides. The first alarm option allows for the panel to tie to an alarm light in your facility. In case anything happens that stops the system from running effectively, an alarm light can go off, alerting the line operator immediately. Another feature is the ability to tie it to the packaging line itself, called PMI or Parent Machine Interface. Parent Machine Interface will signal the packaging line when the glue is at full temperature thus preventing the line to start up until it receives the signal.

Please watch our video on how to set the ProBilt™ melter temperatures. For more information on our ProBilt™ systems please call today (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com

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The Importance of Keeping Products Made in the USA

Over the years, large CPG companies moved away from manufacturing and packaging their products in the USA. There are is one obvious reason for that, cutting costs. The cost of materials and the cost of labor are both cheaper overseas. But cheaper isn’t always better. Yes, it increases overall profitability, which is essential for a company’s success, but cutting costs can also equate to lower quality products, poor customer service and lack of reliability.

Well, times are changing! With impending tariffs worldwide, it might not be the best option for you to work with a company that manufactures overseas.

Here at Universal Systems SE, we are proud to stamp “Made in the USA” on all of our components. Whether you are buying a nozzle or ProBilt™ tank, you can rest assured that they were 100% made here in the USA. We source all of our raw materials from US companies, and try to keep them “in the family” of small business owners. Not only do we believe in keeping everything home grown, we support small businesses, the true bread and butter of this great nation.

There is also the advantage of immediate customer service, when dealing with a US company like Universal Systems SE. We are here when you need us, to troubleshoot any questions or if you need products overnight. Since our manufacturing facility is in Delray Beach, FL, we operate on EST, so even companies on the west coast can catch us in the morning or early afternoon.

For more information on the products that we manufacture here in the USA, please email sales@ussefl.com or call us at (800) 848-5018.

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Cost-Effective Manufacturing

As we continue through 2019, it is clear that big brand CPG budgets are getting tighter when it comes to packaging. Larger companies are no longer bleeding money on big brands that offer not much more than a brand name and pretty blue logo. We have often asked ourselves how companies like Nordson® can get away with charging so much for the same quality product that Universal Systems SE manufactures. Especially since those big brands are not even manufacturing in the USA. That trend is starting to change.

As the American economy continues to change, it is clear that companies need an alternative to the brand name big price tags. It all comes down to shopping around for quality manufacturing that can be done in a more cost-effective way. And yes…it can be done. Cost-effective manufacturing should be the main focus of all companies when it comes to packaging their products. Americans no longer care about a name, they care about performance, quality and cost. Just because it is the most expensive thing on the market, doesn’t make it the best or most reliable. And that rings true for packaging manufacturers as well.

Many CPGs are losing the battle for shelf space and margin growth, which is increasing the pressure on suppliers such as packaging manufacturers to decrease costs. With more brands on the shelf and less market share, big CPGs need to start thinking smartly about their packaging solutions. It might not be the best idea to bring in a company like Nordson® to customize a hot melt solution that will cost you an exorbitant amount of money and take 6 months to get, when you can go with a company like Universal Systems SE who has engineers with over 40 years of experience that actually understand what you need because they have pretty much seen it all.

Not only is cost-effective manufacturing a pull in the marketplace, but knowledgeable customer service and support. If your packaging line goes down, it could cost you thousands of dollars a minute. A large brand with an untrained rep isn’t going to be able to get you up and running with a phone call. Universal Systems SE will! Think about that the next time you place an order for a new hot melt system or components.

Whatever you might need for your hot melt machines, we manufacture it at our Florida facility. Whether it is heated hoses, applicators, filters, modules, nozzles, etc. We also can walk you through troubleshooting any issues or help you with customized set ups. Call Universal Systems SE today at (561) 272-5442.

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Zero Cavity Modules and What They Are Used For

There are several different set ups available for your hot melt application. That’s because not all industries use glue application for the same reason. The most common form of hot glue application is standard case packers for mass production high speed packaging. Typically, those lines use standard H200 modules. However, glue application is used to seal other, more specific products. For example, swirl pattern modules are used for glue application on feminine hygiene products, diapers and also for sealing air filters. This blog is going to specifically explain zero cavity modules and what industries use them and why.

Zero cavity modules have a very specific look, with a nozzle head attachment rather than a screw on nozzle. They also come with an E-Z Micro Adjust attachment to manage precision glue application. This nozzle & micro-adjust feature is custom manufactured for precise glue placement on smaller boxes, such as crayon boxes or pharmaceutical products. This unique technology allows for line operators to place a small amount of glue on a small, predetermined location without creating any stringing. Typically, because of this precise requirement, most zero cavity modules are made with either a .008 or a .012 diameter orifice, so that there can never be too much glue applied.

Because zero cavities have a matched piston needle and seat, when they finally wear out, most manufacturers require customers to replace the entire module. Universal Systems does not. We manufacture a rebuild kit specifically for zero cavity modules for a fraction of the price of replacing an entire module. Check out our rebuild kits here: https://www.ussefl.com/products/hot-melt-modules/module-rebuild-kits/.

Not many hot melt application manufacturers offer zero-cavity modules. Luckily, here at Universal Systems we have been manufacturing this specific module for over 25 years. If you would like to learn more about zero cavity modules or get a price quote, please reach out to sales@ussefl.com or call (561) 272-5442.

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