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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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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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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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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How to Keep Old Melters Operable

Do you have an old series 2300 or 3000 melter that you are still using but need to find parts for? If you do, your packaging line is running a melter that is 15 – 20 years old. That means that your line operators are maintaining your packaging lines well and spending money in the right areas to keep efficiency and durability a priority. With that said, not everything will last forever. While you can probably keep the control panels of the 2300 or 3000 melter, some of the internal and exterior parts may need to be replaced. The reality is that Nordson® no longer supports these tanks. However, Universal Systems SE does. Universal Systems SE manufactures pumps, filters, hoses, guns, modules and nozzles that are compatible with your old melters.

Pneumatic Pumps

The first thing to go on your old melter, will most likely be your pump. Once that stops working, it will become very clear that your OEM no longer manufactures replacements for that part. So now you have to decide between purchasing a new melter from them for $15,000+, or trying to replace your pump. Universal Systems SE manufactures new series 2300 and 3000 pumps for a fraction of the price of a new Nordson® melter. Check out our full line of pneumatic pumps.

Actuator

If you have experience with rebuilding pumps, Universal Systems also manufactures the pump shifter and fork for the ProBilt™ series 2300 and 3000 pumps. This is another item you will not be able to find with the OEM because it has been discontinued.

Tank Filters

Since your series 2300 or 3000 melters have been operating on the line for so many years, your line operators probably change out the tank filters frequently. As the years have gone by, you may find it more difficult to find reasonably priced, or readily available tank filters. Universal Systems manufactures the tank filter assemblies, filter cores and filter screens to fit your series 2300 and 3000 melters.

Same Footprint

If you have gone through all of the steps to fix the problem with your old melter and find out that it is the control panel, which has been discontinued, Universal Systems SE has a solution for that as well. Our ProBilt™ melters have the same footprint and dimensions as your current series 2300 or 3000 melter. That means that your NEW ProBilt™ melter, that comes with a 10-year heater warranty, will fit right in where your old melter comes out.

For more information or to contact a technician that can help you troubleshoot issues with your old melter, call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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Managing Your Glue Usage in Packaging

Hot melt adhesive is not cheap and you may notice that the prices are only going up. What purchasing agents might not know, is that a lot of packaging lines are using more glue than is actually needed. There are a few simple ways to manage your actual glue usage and help cut costs to manage your budget.

Nozzle Diameter

The first step in managing your glue usage, is knowing the diameter nozzle tip you are using in your packaging lines, and understanding why you are purchasing that size. A lot of times, our sales reps will get calls from customers that want to buy larger size nozzle tips because their line operators are saying there is not enough glue being released on the cartons. Obviously, as you increase your nozzle tip diameter, the more glue you are going to use overall and increase your yearly costs for adhesive. This can also cause several other issues, such as potential sealing issues if the hot adhesive does not have enough time to dry as it moves along the cartoner. If your line operators are asking for larger diameter nozzles, question them as to why.

Evaluate Set-up

If your line operators are stating that the glue is not keeping the packaging closed, which is why they need larger nozzles, evaluate your setup. Check the distance your gun applicator is to your carton and at what temperature you are heating your adhesive. If the adhesive is not hot enough and your gun is too far away from the application site, the adhesive could be cooling before it even hits the carton which is why it is not creating a tight seal. Simply increasing your heating temperature or moving your gun applicator closer to the end application site could solve this issue. You could also be putting down too much glue already. If you have a high-speed packaging line, and put down too much glue, the speed will not allow time for the large amount of glue to dry.

Change Your Filters

Another simple solution to managing your glue usage, is to check both your tank and gun filters. If your nozzles are clogging frequently, causing the line operators to buy larger diameter nozzles, they may be clogging due to char. Char is a typical occurrence in hot melt packaging, but the transfer of most char can be prevented by regularly changing your tank and gun filters. These filters will extend the life of both your modules and nozzles.

For more information or tips on how to increase your packaging line efficiency and lower your costs, call a Universal Systems representative at (561) 272-5442 or email us at sales@ussefl.com.

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Line Operators: The First Line of Defense

Understanding hot melt tank systems is no simple task. It usually takes years of experience to learn how to effectively manage adhesive systems and keep your packaging line running efficiently and effectively. Universal Systems SE understands that new line operators come into work and might need help learning which items to replace and how to replace them the correct way. That is why we offer technical support to all of our ProBilt™ customers!

There are several maintenance tasks that we recommend be completed on a regular basis to keep your adhesive system free of char and debris, which is the number one culprit in bringing down a line. Below is an easy maintenance checklist that each line operator should have in hand.

We recommend that you print this checklist out and give it to every shift that operates the packaging line. Keep in mind that changing out items such as gun heads, modules, filters and pumps all require you to clear the old lines and remove the air pressure before re-installation. Releasing the air pressure and removing all old adhesive will ensure that all seals stay intact and reduces the char transferred from the old to the new parts.

If you need help changing out parts or have questions about which items need to be changed regularly, please call (561) 272-5442 or email sales@ussefl.com.

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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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