Hot melt adhesives (HMA) have become the preeminent choice for high speed packaging operations. Their fast setting capabilities reduce unit costs by increasing productivity and also enable machine manufacturers to build simpler, smaller and more efficient packaging machines.
All hot melts do however have a weakness. They need to be applied in a molten state, and this exposes them to the threat of thermal degradation, primarily by oxidation.
Equipment improvements have helped and good housekeeping practice contributes as well, but their Achilles heel is always there. Adhesive chemists have not rested on their laurels however, and the Supra range of products designed by Henkel deploys a much more stable polymer technology, which forms the basis of these hot melt adhesives. Metallocene Catalysed Polyolefin polymers enable formulation of highly versatile hot melt adhesives, known as MPO hot melt adhesives. MPO hot melt adhesives are rapidly overtaking many applications traditionally held by Ethylene-Vinyl-Acetate or EVA hot melt adhesives. Even though the price per kg of MPO hot melt adhesives is on average higher than comparable EVA hot melt adhesives, the advantages that they bring mean that they drive down unit cost.
Thermal stability of MPO adhesives is just one aspect of the cost reduction calculation, albeit a major one. MPO adhesives outgun EVA’s when compared to mileage, so costs are brought down in this way too.
Returning to thermal stability savings, this contributes in a number of ways towards pushing costs down.
3. Improved quality: What is worse than a blocked nozzle? The answer is a partially blocked nozzle. The reasoning behind this statement is that when a nozzle blocks on your line, the packs are unsealed and the machine stops, not great, but at least you have only lost time and you can address the problem perhaps simply by replacing the nozzle and starting production again. When a nozzle is partially blocked, the packs will be sealed, but often with less adhesive or an incomplete glue pattern. These packs then continue on their way to your customer and that’s where they fail! Or even worse on the supermarket shelf. The result could be a rejected load, additional transport costs and reputational damage. Of course, this may not happen, you may ‘get away with it’ at a customer, but as responsible suppliers we all want to produce the best product that we can and reduce the potential for quality complaints to zero and certainly not just retain customer, but continually impress them with our products and service.
MPO hot melt adhesives can also reduce the number of adhesives that are required, simplifying the administrative burden of inventory control, multiple line ordering, as well reducing the risk of using the wrong adhesive in the wrong application.
One of the biggest challenges is understanding the downtime that you have. Downtime is a catch-all category, which makes it difficult to then come up with a plan of action to tackle its causes. The first step is then to breakdown your downtime into major causes, avoiding having too big a ‘miscellaneous’ category, which can hide a multitude of sins. It is always surprising how much information can then be gleaned and once this is clarified it can be tackled. A comprehensive breakdown of costs for items such as spare parts and cost of labour to deal with problems will then allow you to start to form a picture of what your true costs are. Direct Adhesives can help with a number of tools to help calculate costings, known as value calculators, allowing you to very quickly arrive at a number which you could be saving and it is often very large! We can help you understand the true cost of using your hot melt adhesives as well giving you recommendations for improvement via Adhesive Audits and Surveys.
Consider all of the investment that you have made in your product and the part that packaging plays in it. Packaging your product is one of the final stages of production and issues at this point may mean that everything that you have done before could be wasted. Poorly packaged products are not chosen by the consumer, so you want your product to look its best. Even though the hot melt adhesive that you choose to seal your pack may not be your top priority, in the competitive race for consumer choice, getting it wrong could mean that you fall at the final hurdle.