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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Safety in Switching Out Glue Equipment

The best way to keep your packaging line up and running as efficiently as possible is to do preventative maintenance. Here at Universal Systems SE, we have advocated for regular packaging line maintenance, including all of your glue melter equipment and components. However, it is not only important to know when to do maintenance, it is also important to know how to do that maintenance. There are more mistakes made in the switching out of glue equipment and components than you may think. Whether you are changing out a filter or switching a pump, there are steps to take in order to ensure a smooth transition, with the least amount of downtime. Here are a few tips on switching some of our ProBilt hot melt equipment products.

Tank Filters

First and foremost, it is important to know the model of your tank. Even though that sounds like standard knowledge, there are many tanks that look similar but have different tank capacities, pump types and filters. Once you know the tank model, you can look up if you need to replace the entire tank filter or if you can replace just the screen. On USSE’s ProBilt tanks, for example, you have the option to change only the tank screen. This allows you to save some money long term, while still maintaining your tank. It is recommended that you make the change while the tank is in setback and to wear Kevlar gloves so that you don’t burn yourself. The tank filter is located on the side of the tank. It can be removed with a flat head screw driver. Once the complete filter assembly is removed, there is a long screw that secures the screen to the assembly. Simply remove that screw, switch the screen, and replace the filter assembly. If you are changing out the tank screen, make sure that you do not damage the filter bung or o-rings when making the switch. Also, be careful, the glue inside the filter is HOT.

In-line Gun Filters

These are the easiest of filters on your glue line to change out. In most cases, the filters can be reordered in packs of 5. Locate where the filter is on the filter assembly body and use a wrench to loosen and remove. Kevlar gloves should be worn, as the outside of the filter will be hot and there will be glue on the filter you are removing. Simply put the new filter in place and tighten.

Modules

Usually modules are switched out because they are dripping or leaking. This is typically caused by either char or end of life of seat and piston. Switching out a module is fairly simple. Before taking off the old module and replacing with the new, make sure that the system is not running. Each replacement module comes with 2 o-rings and 2 screws. Place the o-rings on the back of the module and secure it on the gun applicator with the new screws.

If you are running an H200, zero cavity or reduced cavity module, there are rebuild kits available.

Pumps

Switching out a glue pump is the least common practice on a packaging line. However, this is also simpler than you would think. Most technicians think that in order to change out a pump, you need to turn the tank off and let the glue cool. That is not always the case. If you are running a ProBilt tank and have an experience technician, he can switch out the pump while the system is still on. First, make sure you are wearing Kevlar gloves because the system will be hot. Turn off the air running to the system, this will limit any injuries. Remove the 3 bolts holding in the pump, use needle-nose pliers and do this carefully. Put the old pump on a large piece of cardboard where the glue can drain, cool and harden. Carefully put the new pump in, secure it with the 3 bolts and turn back on the air.

For any other questions about tank maintenance, please contact one of Universal Systems’ experienced technicians 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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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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How Winter Weather Impacts Your Packaging Line

As we head into the New Year and the weather gets colder, you may be experiencing inconsistencies with the adhesives on your packaging lines. What most line operators and maintenance managers do not realize is that the location of your packaging line in the plant can play a large role in the dependability of your adhesive.

This time of year, we receive several troubleshooting calls regarding hot melt consistency, heated hose and gun temperature consistency and glue stringing. It is important to take the external environment into consideration when attempting the first step in troubleshooting some of these problems. One of the first questions to ask is: where is your packaging line located? For example, if it is at the end of the packaging process, which it most likely is, then it might be on the exterior wall of your plant. Or it might be near an external door or window. If it is on the outskirts of the plant facility, and you are located in a part of the United States that is cold in the winter, then the outside temperature 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. Especially if you are adding in cold glue. If your glue pellets are colder than normal, it will take a longer amount of time to heat them. A solution to this issue would be to invest in an auto-fill hot melt application system. Universal Systems SE manufactures the ProBilt™ Phoenix Auto-Fill Application System. Not only will this system help in the winter months, it helps all year long by drastically reducing the number of times your line operator needs to add glue pellets.

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 used larger sized extensions and filter housings. For example, the older gun filter assemblies had larger filter housings and longer extension joints, that are unnecessary and can inhibit the consistency of hot melt flow. 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.

For any further information on the ProBilt™ Phoenix Auto-Fill Application System, or to speak to a technician about any troubleshooting of your adhesive application system, please call Universal Systems SE at (800) 848-5018 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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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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Troubleshooting Tips for Packaging Line Issues

Since Universal Systems SE offers technical support for all of our customers, we get several calls per day with all different kinds of technical issues that line operators experience. Because many packaging lines run 24/7, without regular maintenance of key products there will always be issues after a certain period of time. As always, we recommend changing your filters, nozzles and modules when needed to eliminate any potential issues. However, there may be other parts on your packaging lines causing these issues.

For example, if you are experiencing a dripping or not fully functional module, it is most likely not an issue with the module itself. Especially since all products go through a vigorous quality control process before leaving our facility. Because the modules are air open and spring close, there are a few items to check before switching out the module. First, Universal Systems SE recommends that you check the solenoid valve. The solenoid valve is the air supply that runs into the applicator gun and fires the glue onto the box. If the solenoid valve fails, it will not generate air power to fully open the module. If the solenoid valve is weak, it will not fully exhaust all of the air out of the module, and the module piston will not seat properly, causing a drip. Another potential issue could be that char or debris has been transferred from the tank into the gun and has gotten stuck in the spring close. This piece of char, no matter how small it could be, can limit the spring from fully closing causing “dripping”. Spring tension on the gun module being set too low could also cause “dripping”, so make sure you try to adjust that before switching out modules. Finally, if the line operator has not gone through the correct steps to change out the module, the module could be compromised. The line operator needs to make sure that they lower the air pressure used on the tank before switching modules. If they do not, they could potentially send glue into the air chamber of the gun when removing the old module.

Another common technical issue is that the heated hoses are either not heating or not heating to the correct temperature. The first step is to check and ensure that the hose zone is not set to “off”. If it is, turn the hose zone to “on”. Then, you should check to make sure all connectors are securely tightened and the controller settings are correct. If all of those are working, you next need to check the ohms reading on the hose heater and hose RTD, and all of the board fuses.  A USSE technical support representative can walk you through this check process and help identify the real issue.

For more information or if you need technical support not mentioned, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com

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Piston Pump Troubleshooting

There are several things that can cause a piston pump to stop working. The most common reason is that it is clogged. Unfortunately, not all line operators take the time to close the lid on a glue tank. With a lot of carton dust in the air at any facility, this dust gets into the glue pot and melts in with the glue. When the pump shifter runs to pump the glue from the pot into the hose, that carton dust gathers around the pump which can cause it to seize. The simple solution to this is to make sure that all shift line operators are diligent about closing the tank covers, that’s why they are on there.

If carton dust is not your issue, and the pump fails, below are a few other possible causes and the corresponding solutions.

  • Adhesive not sufficiently heated – check the tank temperature and required melt temperature of your adhesive and set accordingly.
  • Inadequate or no input air to pump – increase the air pressure from the plant air supply and see if the pump will run.
  • Dry running – when a tank drops below a certain adhesive level in the pot, the pump does not have enough glue to operate at full capacity. The glue that runs through the pump acts as a padding so that the shifter does not pound against the top and bottom of the pump itself. When that padding is less, the pounding shifter can cause damage to the magnets and create an issue with the shifter. The only solution to this is to get a new shifter and potentially invest in an auto fill on-demand system that fills the glue into the tank for you, leaving less pressure on the line operators to fill the pot.
  • No Tank Screen or Clogged Tank Screen – the tank screen lives at the bottom of the tank and is the first line of defense against any foreign debris getting into the pump. Sometimes the tank screen gets removed or never cleaned. That can cause debris build up and seize your pump. It is easily cleaned by lifting out of the empty tank and then cleaning the tank with Purge Plus™.
  • Clogged Tank Filter – the tank filter screws into the side of the tank and filters the glue after it leaves the tank. If the tank filter is clogged, then the adhesive will back up in the pump, causing the pump to seize.
  • Pump solenoid is not on – if the tank is not within 35 degrees of the setpoint temperature on the control panel, the pump solenoid will not turn on. Check the setpoint temperature and make sure it is correct. If the setpoint temperature is correct and reading properly, then it might be a failed solenoid that needs to be replaced.

 

If you go through all of these troubleshooting steps and still have an issue with your pump, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Custom Manifolds & Gun Applicators

There are not many manufacturers in the hot melt industry that have the ability to work with clients and create custom manifolds and gun applicators to fit their unique needs. Universal Systems SE has that ability and is willing to pair up our engineers with our client’s team to ensure that we manufacture the exact applicator needed for any job.

Over the last forty years, Universal Systems SE has manufactured an array of different custom manifolds and gun applicator systems for different types of industries. Not only can our custom gun manifolds distribute adhesive onto boxes in packaging lines, but they can be used for distributing make-up, candle gel, etc. Depending on the viscosity and melt rate of the substance needed to make the transfer, our custom manifolds and applicators will work with several different types of materials.

The custom manifold and gun process is simple. Contact one of Universal Systems SE’s customer service representatives, by either calling in to (561) 272-5442 or submitting a custom gun online form. You will then be connected with a USSE mechanical engineer. After all of the client’s needs are communicated with our engineering team and all questions answered, USSE will provide the customer with a custom manifold drawing for approval. The drawing will include dimensions of the manifold, spacing of modules, type of modules and all cordsets that are included and the location of those cordsets. Once the drawing is signed off on by the customer, we then manufacture the manifold body. After a vigorous quality control process, each custom manifold is inspected and tested to ensure all dimensions are correct and that the custom gun matches the approved drawing. Once the manifold passes all initial testing, modules are added and the custom gun is created and tested internally by two different QC Engineers. Once there is approval by both engineers, the final product is cleaned and ready for shipping.

The normal process for custom manufactured manifolds and completed guns is four to six weeks, with extra time potentially added in depending on customer turnaround time for drawing approvals.

If you are interested in learning more about the types of custom manifolds and gun applicators that Universal Systems SE can engineer for you, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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