Mountain View Packaging of Boise, Id., packages several size and batter varieties of finger steaks, pork nuggets, and a variety of chicken products for private-label retail sale. When company Maintenance Manager Victor Sheldon, responsible for keeping the company’s ADCO Manufacturing vertical cartoners running optimally, began experiencing substantial downtime from performance issues with the company’s gluing system, he turned to Baumer hhs hot melt gluing technology for help.
Gluing system downtime has ripple effect
Gluing system performance issues impact the entire packaging line, and downtime from Mountain View Packaging’s gluing system with pneumatically activated guns had been averaging almost five minutes per hour per line.
The gluing system downtime had a variety of causes: 1) The need to clean or change clogged nozzles that were not dispensing glue or were dispensing partial patterns on the cartons; 2) Start-ups after weekends where the pneumatically activated guns randomly wouldn’t fire at the beginning of the run; and 3) Pneumatic gun failure, due either to a leaky seal binding the needle or a sticking solenoid valve, resulting in the module not cycling and boxes not being glued.
The company’s primary objective in looking for a replacement to the technology was to reduce downtime, but there were other challenges as well, including glue gun maintenance, reliability, cost reduction (no compressed air and reduced adhesive usage), and safety.
New gun technology necessary
A potential answer came from Mountain View Packaging Manager of Operations Kevin Blocher, who obtained information on the Baumer hhs tesla and their dotting technology at PACK Expo East. Sheldon contacted Rick Pallante, Baumer hhs President – USA and Canada, who was Business Development Manager for Packaging at the time, and asked him to assess the packaging line and hot melt dispensing applicator gun issues.
Pallante’s evaluation led him to the conclusion that new gun technology would benefit Mountain View Packaging the most. He recommended the Baumer hhs tesla go all-electric hot melt applicator as the most effective solution to the gluing system issues. The reasons he cited included the following:
· Gun maintenance: The tesla go contains no dynamic seals, allowing for a cycle life in excess of 1 billion cycles compared to a pneumatically actuated gun life of 25 to 50 million cycles.
· Reliability: The tesla go is all-electric and requires no compressed air to operate and no dynamic seals or air-operated solenoid valves that stick. According to Pallante, the all-electric actuation is more reliable than using compressed air, which must be filtered and maintain constant pressure for repeatable performance.
· Cost reduction: The all-electric design saves compressed air costs and reduces spare part requirements for modules and nozzles. The 1 billion cycle life opens the door to the possibility of dotting the adhesive beads instead of using solid ones. Dotting the beads with pneumatic applicators isn’t practical since the guns will reach failure mode within months, while a tesla go applicator will last years. The result is more years using the dotted pattern.
· Safety: The tesla go comes standard with a non-metallic cover that protects the operator from contact with the heated applicator. The all-electric design is also 30-dB quieter than the pneumatically actuated applicator, providing quiet operation.
To test Pallante’s theory, Baumer hhs gave Mountain View Packaging a free three-month demo, replacing the pneumatic guns on their hot melt system with tesla go all-electric guns. The switch had minimal impact on the production setup. At the end of three months, Baumer hhs added a dot box to the system—also part of the free demo—to evaluate potential glue savings.
After six months of uninterrupted production with no nozzle clogs or module/valve failures—and 50% glue savings—Sheldon asked for approval to place the dotting systems on the two ADCO horizontal packaging lines. Management’s response: “Why are you waiting?”
Once the existing air lines were removed and capped off, it took Baumer hhs less than an hour to install each system. Using the same 24-VDC signal as the pneumatically actuated applicators had, the signal is routed through the dot box and converted to a frequency resulting in a series of dots on the carton. The frequency can be altered to add or remove the number of dots over the signal length.
Baumer hhs also added a purge box to the circuit since there was no PLC or pattern controller to actuate the guns on the ADCO cartoners. The purge box allows the all-electric tesla go applicators to be manually purged.
Failure- and downtime-free
By switching to the tesla go electric applicator, Mountain View Packaging has reduced glue usage from two to three cases to one case of glue per day. The company also expects a reduction in spare parts due to the 1 billion cycle life of the tesla go electric guns. And there have been almost zero instances of downtime with the new tesla applicators.
The dotting technology has also proven itself. Since production began with dotted beads, no stoppages have been caused by the new hot melt gluing applicators, and the system hasn’t required maintenance. The company no longer experiences squeeze-out and mess as the line is stopped for jams, and they’ve had a drop in pop-open cartons. Plus, they’ve had no carton failures with the reduced amount of glue. In fact, the dotted lines have made it easier to open cartons after sealing. Cartons still have good fiber tear, and there are no reports of carton failures during shipping logistics.
The increased ROI from reduced glue usage enabled Mountain View Packaging to switch from ethylene vinyl alcohol to metallocene adhesives. Costs will be less on the longer-life, increased-mileage metallocene versus the EVA because metallocene will reduce charring in the system, making it easier to clean any adhesive that might get onto the packaging line.
Sheldon says he’s had a positive experience working with Baumer hhs: “Baumer hhs has been with me every step of the way, from helping provide tools to validate this change with our management team to educating us on how different adhesives could make a difference in our packaging process. They were able to give us more than just adhesive dispensing equipment; they provided us with information that helped us arrive at a complete packaging solution.”