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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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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When Consumers Can’t Open their Boxes

Have you ever purchased a case of soda or carton of coffee cups and can’t get the box open? Of course, we all have. In the packaging industry, especially for hot melt machine manufacturers, that is a red flag. Whenever we get a box that has too much hot glue on it means that the packaging line is not set up properly or not being cleaned regularly.

If you are wondering why too much glue means that the line is not set up properly or not being cleaned regularly it is because one of two issues is occurring (or sometimes even both). The first issue is most likely that the line operators and/or maintenance managers are not cleaning the tank regularly and the lines are clogging up with char, which will subsequently clog nozzles. Instead of cleaning the tanks and hoses, and replacing the tank filter and in-line gun filters, most operations just buy bigger nozzles. If the diameter of the nozzle orifice is larger, then it will allow through more bits of char and not clog up as easily. Unfortunately, this is not a long-term solution. Putting down more hot glue will drive up the amount that facilities spend on adhesive pellets, and ultimately the annoyance will trickle down to the consumer when they can’t get their box open. The solution is simple…utilize Purge Plus to clean your tank every 1,000 hours. For some facilities that could mean cleaning every quarter and for others that could be twice a year, it all depends on the facility. In addition to cleaning the tank and hoses with Purge Plus, make sure that the tank filters are changed every 500 hours. The in-line gun filters should be changed every 150 hours to ensure that no char travels into the gun applicator, through the module and nozzle and onto the box.

The second issue that could cause too much glue on boxes, is that the line was not set up correctly from initial purchase. A lot of cartoners have standard hoses, guns, modules and nozzles that will work for most case packers, but not for all. Make sure to take into consideration the temperature of your packaging facility (which can impact the adhesion and viscosity of the glue as it travels through the application process), the distance that the guns are to the box upon application, and the surface area of the box you are covering. The longer the bead of glue you place, the less likely you are to need a larger diameter nozzle. The shorter the range you are covering, you might need more glue to make sure that maximum adhesion occurs, which means you need a larger diameter nozzle.

If you think you are putting down too much glue on your packaging line and need help, call one of Universal Systems’ technicians at (561) 272-5442. We have the most knowledgeable technicians in the business that can help you with almost any question.

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Correct Hose Length

Case packing and sealing in packaging lines depends on several components to run steadily and reliably. In order for a system to run continuously at all times, each piece of equipment needs to be concisely installed. The usual suspects of precision engineering on your case sealer adhesive systems are the pump, applicators and nozzles. Most line operators undervalue the importance of heated hose length in the overall operation and efficiency of the line.

Heated adhesive hoses get attached to the hot melt tank and run from the tank to the application gun, which is mounted on the packaging line itself. Heated hoses are typically attached to the tank with a straight connector, but can have both a 45 degree or 90 degree connection option, depending on where the tank is placed on the line. The applicator plug at the end of the hose is also sent out as a straight connection, but can be switched to a 90 degree plug if needed. There are typically two – four hoses used on each packaging line. With a two hose line, one hose will run up the line, across the top and down to the applicators. This hose transfers the adhesive that will seal the top of the carton and is mounted using straps. The second hose will typically run straight along the side of the packaging line to seal the bottom of the case.  No matter how many hoses you run or how you mount them, it is very important to have the correct length hose.

Our technicians visit several packaging facilities each year, and their biggest take away is that most purchasing agents are ordering the wrong length hose. Typically, the hoses that we see are too long. They are either running extra length on the ground, which is a safety hazard, or there is excess hanging before the applicator connection, which can cause heating inconsistency issues. It is important to measure from the tank through the entire hose travel process, including mounting straps, before ordering. Universal Systems SE manufactures our ClearFlow™ line of heated hoses in 2 ft increments. So, if you measure 6 ft, order a 6 ft hose and if you measure 7 ft, order an 8ft hose. Make sure that you measure precisely! If need a hose longer than 24 ft, we can custom make you any length up to 50 ft.

To speak with a USSE representative about our ClearFlow™ hoses or to consult with a technician about the hose length you need, please call (800) 848-5018 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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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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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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