Top 5 Tips to Hot Melt Machine Maintenance

Packaging lines are complicated pieces of machinery and knowing the ins and outs of each component is important. When you install a new hot melt system onto your packaging line, there are 5 helpful tips to take into consideration to ensure smooth operation and getting the most out of your equipment.

Read and Keep the Manual

The best practice for maintaining your hot melt tank is to read the manual and keep it handy. So many times, maintenance managers will install the tank, but not read the instructions on how to wire it or program it. That can lead to so many issues. In other instances, a tank may be running for some time, but someone hits a button accidentally and changes a setting, then doesn’t know how to change it back. If only they had read the manual or kept it on hand. It sounds like such a common-sense thing, but oftentimes manuals are discarded with the shipping crate. For this reason, we keep a digital manual on our website for anyone to reference.

Replace the Filters

Preventative maintenance is one of the most important tasks to keep your machine running efficiently and reduce down time for your packaging line. When your tank filters are clogged, that is good, it means that they are doing their job and filtering out char. Changing them on a regular basis and spending a small amount on a tank filter will save you thousands in the future.

Monitor Your Hot Melt System

Line operators are tasked with monitoring tanks on a daily basis. It is important to make sure that the pump is pumping smoothly, the solenoid is not lagging and the guns and hoses are heating to temperature and staying there consistently. Even a minor change in any of those tasks can mean that it is time to proactively replace a component, or at least make sure there is a back up on the shelf.

Know Your Options

Knowing your options ties all three previous tips together. If you have read the manual, you will know what your options are when something goes down. If you are doing preventative maintenance, then you know it is not the tank filters. And if you are monitoring your system, you know what components you replace most often and what inventory you have on the shelf. In addition, you should also know what options you have should you need to replace your current system. Is the current technology working for you or do you want to upgrade to an auto-fill system? It is always good to be prepared and know your options.

Listen to Your Workers

Line operators are on the front lines, literally. They watch particular lines and machines on each line all day, every day. They know what parts are running effectively and where the problems may lie. It is important that you listen to them. They might not be the maintenance manager by job title, but they are the most knowledgeable about the equipment they are in charge of and their opinion should be the first requested.

 

For more tips on keeping your hot melt systems running to the best of their ability, please give us a call 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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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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The Importance of Product Support

Universal Systems SE has been manufacturing hot melt equipment since 1981. Starting with hoses and nozzles, then moving into applicators, pumps and tanks. Our first ProBilt tank was launched in 1990. Since then, our melter has only had a couple of generational upgrades. We believe that this is what sets us apart from other hot melt equipment manufacturers in the industry today. We have never believed upgrading our equipment or technology so much that it makes our old tanks in operation obsolete. We have added features and improved upon what we initially launched in 1990, but we have not let technology negatively impact the operational ease of our machines.

USSE believes in the importance of long-term product support and cross compatibility. There are hot melt system manufacturer’s in the industry, like Nordson®, who have discontinued not only production but also product support of their old melters. Both the 2300 series and 3000 series melters, while discontinued by Nordson®, are still in operation in hundreds of packaging facilities across America. Unlike Nordson®, Universal Systems still supports those old melters because we appreciate the fact that many of these melters, similar to the ProBilt melters, continue to run even 20+ years after initial operation. We are one of the only manufacturers in existence to still make and service 2300 & 3000 series pumps.

We also believe in product uniformity across all of our melters. That is why when we designed our melters, we made sure that all of Universal Systems’ ProBilt machines run the same control boards, pumps and tank filters. In most cases, facilities run several ProBilt melters, but only need to stock 1 or 2 of each spare part. That uniformity creates a streamlined and more simplistic inventory process.

As we move deeper into 2021 and our new normal continues to change, think about how the importance of long-term product support and a streamlined inventory process can help keep your packaging lines up and running. For more information about Universal Systems and our ProBilt line of melters please email sales@ussefl.com.

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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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Chillers on Your Manufacturing Line

Now you may be asking yourself, why am I reading about chillers on a hot melt blog? The answer is easy, Universal Systems SE manufactures heated hoses that can be used for transferring many more substances other than glue. And when there are applications that do not include glue, the manufacturing lines may need chillers.

Our heated hoses, while mainly used for high speed packaging glue application, can also be used for heating and transferring a plethora of other materials. Our Teflon lined hoses can transfer anything from candy, make up, wax and much more! Depending on the use and application of different substances, the packaging line can be filling at high rates of speed. Heating and filling formed containers for candle wax, as an example, can be tricky because in this application the wax needs to cool quickly so that it can be formed, packaged and shipped out to end users. One of the most common questions we get in this situation is: How can I keep my forming operation running at a high-speed pace from start to finish? The answer here is chillers. Essentially how a chiller works is it is built into the conveyor line. So, the product would be heated in a melt pot, transferred through the heated hose, dispensed into containers, and then fed along a chiller that is built into the line. The product goes from hot to cool in a matter of seconds.

If you have any other questions on how we can help you keep your production lines running at high-speed capabilities, please reach out to sales@ussefl.com or call to speak with a technician (561) 272-5442.

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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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