The cost of hot melt system cleaning & maintenance

Avoid unplanned downtime and replacement parts costs by taking a proactive maintenance approach

Keeping your hot melt system clean and running is a challenge. Reactive systems with a tank-based melting process are in a constant struggle with adhesive char formation. Proactive maintenance and regular system purges help to eliminate downtime and reduce costs.

Every production and maintenance manager wants to keep their production facilities running for as much time as possible. Production issues cause unscheduled machine downtime, leading to unexpected maintenance costs, temporary unemployment, and possible stock shortages. 

Reactive hot melt system maintenance

For end-of-line packaging applications, production issues typically dictate most hot melt glue system maintenance efforts. Fighting to keep adhesive char at bay for systems with a tank-based melting process is a constant battle. These reactive maintenance events often result in costly downtime, with maintenance managers having to ship in replacement parts overnight and even fly in equipment experts to get packaging lines back up and running.

The risk of maintenance neglect

If the system has been neglected for too long, a simple system purge and filter replacement may not be enough. It is not uncommon for a hot melt glue system to require complete disassembly. Individual parts are either replaced or submerged in hot oil to remove char from corners of the parts that can’t be flushed. Once this process is completed, the system will be reassembled with replacement seals and recalibrated.

The benefits of a proactive approach

Developing a proactive maintenance process for hot melt equipment is the best approach to ensure maximum uptime. Larger facilities with 10 to 15 lines or more depend on a solid proactive maintenance process to keep their lines running. These facilities often have dedicated personnel on staff to clean and purge hot melt systems on a predetermined cycle.

Video: The Cost of Hotmelt Maintenance

Hot Melt Tank and Nozzle Cleaning

While there are significant costs associated with a reactive maintenance event, there are also measurable costs that come with proactive hot melt maintenance. For each system purge, there are multiple cost elements:

  • Wasted adhesive from hot melt purge – up to 10lbs (4.5kg) for larger tank-based systems
  • Cleaners (paraffin wax, peanut oil, vegetable oil) – removes char stuck to walls of melters, hoses, and applicators
  • Downtime – systems may require multiple cycles with new cleaner to adequately remove adhesive char
  • Replacement parts – includes new filters, nozzles, and seals
  • Labor – system cleaning personnel on staff or a specialized third-party resource

These cleaning events will also take time and require the entire line to be down. On average it takes up to four to six hours to effectively purge a tank-based hot melt glue system, clean the tank, hoses and applicators, and change filters, seals, and nozzles. While these costs add up, they are much less than the costs of a reactive maintenance event.

The Cost of Adhesive Char

How often is maintenance necessary?

We recommend you always follow the maintenance schedule suggested by the equipment manufacturer. However, the frequency of hot melt system maintenance often depends on the specific application, production environment, and hot melt equipment in the line.

For example, a flea/tick carton manufacturer that uses a tank-based hot melt system requires a system purge every three months. This facility is only running on a four-day work week and processing a relatively low output (600lbs or 275kg of glue through the system per year). The facility is also a clean environment with no excessive paper dust or other significant contaminants. Without the typical contamination factors, it is likely that the system itself and the adhesive temperature control create this maintenance frequency scenario.


Maintenance Infographic

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