Pierce Covert

September 4, 2014

3 Min Read
The truth about tankless systems

 If you're looking for a hot-melt adhesive system for your packaging needs, you've likely seen advertisements touting "tankless" hot-melt adhesive systems and their benefits. According to the manufacturers of “tankless” adhesive systems, their systems provide all of the benefits of traditional hot-melt systems without the need for a hot-melt tank/reservoir. But what’s the real story when it comes to “tankless” systems, and do they make sense for packaging applications? Let's take a closer look at the truth behind “tankless” adhesive claims.

Even “tankless” systems have tanks. Just because they don't call it a tank doesn't mean it isn't a tank. When describing their products, many manufacturers of “tankless” adhesive systems talk about the system's "hopper" and mention the hopper's "holding capacity" in the specs—and if you think a hopper and a tank are one in the same, you're correct. The “tankless” system’s hopper may be a smaller tank than one found on traditional adhesive systems, but it's a tank nonetheless, no matter what the manufacturer calls it. Tankless systems operate more like plastic extruders which must be fed continuously to operate properly.

Tanks/reservoirs are integral to hot-melt systems in the packaging industry. To ensure you have a sufficient melt rate for a line that requires 10-20 pounds of hot-melt per hour, a traditional adhesive system with a hot-melt tank that has a reservoir between 20 and 40 lbs. is your best bet. A hot-melt tank receives hot-melt chips/pellets manually or from a bulk source and it slowly brings adhesive up to the proper temperature. 

To keep your line moving, and to reduce the number of times you need to adjust or refill the system, a hot-melt system with a tank/reservoir is the perfect buffer and is the best choice.

Automated fill issues cause big problems in “tankless” systems. “Tankless” adhesive systems rely on automatic fill systems to continually add hot-melt chips into the system. This is really convenient when it is working well. However, when the automatic fill technology malfunctions in a “tankless” system, the packaging process is slowed drastically. Unlike traditional hot-melt systems where you can simply introduce additional hot-melt into the tank to continue operating the packaging line at speed, “tankless” systems require users to slow the line to manually feed small amounts of hot-melt into the unit. Talk about tedious!

Tankless systems give you less for more. “Tankless” adhesive systems are more expensive than traditional adhesive systems that employ tanks, but the “benefits” they offer simply don’t justify the additional cost. While you may be tempted to consider a “tankless” system because it seems like the “latest technology,” the reality is that your efficiency and productivity could suffer—or your line could come to a complete standstill—if there’s any issue with the system’s automatic feeder. Packaging businesses are better off sticking with the tried-and-true technology that traditional hot-melt systems provide.

Pierce Covert is the president of Glue Machinery Corp., a company that builds, sells and services industrial hot-melt and cold-glue systems used worldwide by a range of manufacturers.

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