Success Story

Game changer in the hot melt market: Easyflow®

Auto-fed micro chubs to make hot melt lines more efficient and sustainable

Sustainability Personal Hygiene Packaging and Converting Furniture and Interiors Safety

A hand holds a handful of white, semi-trasparent chubs above a big pile of the same type of chubs.

Henkel’s Adhesive Technologies business offers material science and scientific know-how to give our customers a competitive advantage and help them reach their sustainability targets. Our game changing Easyflow® is a giant step towards this goal. The patented pressure sensitive hot melt adhesive is shaped in non-sticky micro chubs to facilitate auto-feeding into hot melt tanks.

The result is efficiency, sustainability and safety in action.

Making hot melt lines more efficient and sustainable

Personal hygiene manufacturers operate production lines at high speeds – rates of up to 1,200 diapers per minute. Traditional pressure sensitive hot melt adhesives are delivered in chubs or drums and require manual handling and feeding to the melter. This causes issues in otherwise fully automated production lines, as well as introducing a set of challenges.

Handling hot melt adhesives manually: 

  • consumes precious operator time and effort;
  • produces unnecessary waste in terms of packaging material and product rejects;
  • causes unwanted pollution to enter the hot melt tank leading to downtime from issues such as char formation and temperature fluctuation;
  • results in safety risks to operators while filling the hot melt tanks;
  • Increases energy consumption, because large blocks of adhesive need to be heated and kept hot.

Easyflow® is the answer to all these challenges.

Rather than being delivered in one-kilogram blocks, the adhesive comes in 0.13-gram, non-sticky micro chubs. The neat little pillows are air conveyed into hot melt tanks from remotely placed, reusable big bags. They reach their destination in a steady on-demand flow, keeping temperatures in the melters stable. The equipment includes a complete set of sensors, controls and alarms to notify the operators should adhesive levels fall below recommended levels. Maintenance and downtimes are also reduced significantly.

Easyflow micro chubs falling in hand white background

After implementing Easyflow®, adhesive-related energy consumption is reduced by around 20 percent. The reason is obvious: When the micro-chubs reach the tank, they stay solid until they reach the heating element at the bottom of the tank. Then they melt as fast as an ice cube on a hot plate. This melt-on-demand concept – combined with the autofeeding system – saves energy, prevents clogging and assures the adhesive never degrades or chars.

Easyflow® also helps reduce waste generated throughout the production process.  In the hygiene business, reject rates at line levels average around two percent, which can result in big waste issues when billions of products are produced. Preventing waste of raw materials, reducing transport, and avoiding disposal, Easyflow® is a significant enabler for reaching sustainability goals.

Case study: Aiding automation for hygiene applications

Rolling out an unprecedented new concept among the big players in the hygiene industry is no walk in the park. The hygiene industry is conservative – and rightly so. Producing thousands and thousands of products every minute, they cannot take the risk of something going wrong.

We decided they needed a first-hand Easyflow® experience and implemented it on one of their lines. The reaction was exciting to see – and it happens every time:

  • Plant managers realize Easyflow® operators had better control, produced higher outputs, and improved the environmental footprint.
  • Operators of neighboring lines were envious: they saw the difference Easyflow® makes in terms of work safety and reduced stress.
YouTube Thumbnail Wasyflow Spiroflow tank running UV light (Thumbnail)

Easyflow® spiroflow tank running UV light.

To start with, the neighboring operators saw that the big bags containing Easyflow® chubs need replacement only once per shift. With the feeding system on autopilot, the operators can focus on improving line efficiency. In the traditional lines the operators are kept busy by hungry hot melt tanks, having to feed them every 15-20 minutes. With up to 20 machines per plant and up to eight melters per machine, their stress level is constantly high, and their contact with the 170˚C hot adhesive a persistent health risk.

Another benefit was visible immediately: the work environment in the pilot area is cleaner, neater and safer. Because Easyflow® big bags are remotely placed, the workstations are no longer cluttered with pallets and boxes.

Convincing the technical staff was a question of ‘seeing is believing’. Top management, however, demanded additional information. The Easyflow® team developed a value calculator to highlight how the investment of time, equipment, and changing habits was worth the effort. Based on individual customer data, the tool analyzes every single aspect of Easyflow® and translates it into money: less rejects and downtimes, less waste and operator time, less energy … management found the bottom line a very interesting proposition indeed.

A final supporting argument tipped the balance for good: the flexibility of the auto-feeding equipment. The platform can be tailored to every single line configuration, taking into account available space, but also factors such as climate differences.

Photo Thierry Pasquier, Global Business Development Manager Adhesive Technologies at Henkel

Our customers keep saying that Easyflow® is the biggest adhesive innovation they have seen in 30 years. Our auto-feeding, on-demand hot melt solution revolutionizes the way they can deal with adhesives and offer significant benefits in terms of efficiency and sustainability.

Advancing the innovation dynamics 

Henkel’s ambition is to lead the market through innovation. In line with this ambition, Adhesive Technologies translates knowhow and technology expertise into fast and impactful innovations, tackling the challenges of customers, partners and future generations. Innovative Easyflow® is a game changer in the personal hygiene industry. In the past 30 years, all other adhesives innovations in the industry were incremental. Easyflow® really changes the way our customers deal with adhesives. No other company offers a comparable solution.

This kind of innovation is possible because all over the world Henkel engages with partners, all of them experts in their specialty field. After developing a suitable coating to make the micro chubs non-sticky, the TECHNOMELT team worked with equipment partners to create a production process for them. Making an adhesive in a micro-chub form had never been done before, but together with our partner we are now scaling up production to industrial scale. 

We also entered a partnership for the auto-feeding equipment. We turned to an equipment supplier with experience in auto-feeding pills, granules or sweets for the food and pharmaceutical industries. Based on their standard equipment, they fine-tuned a solution that suits our specific constraints, while also meeting the requirements of different geographies and customers. We have a global solution we are launching in the different markets.

Easyflow® confirms our position as leader and premium partner, providing quality and added value for our customers helping them to reach their efficiency and sustainability targets.

Shaping automated adhesive processes in other industries

Extending the Easyflow® offering, we will address more difficult and challenging products. Presently, not all types of adhesives can be turned into an Easyflow® solution, but we are constantly working on expanding the offering. Together with our partners we will push the boundaries. Apart from widening the scope of adhesives, we will also refine and upgrade both the micro-chub production process and the auto-feeding technology.

This enriched solution will enable us to enter new markets. One example is the packaging industry that uses hot melt pressure sensitive adhesives in the production of brick cartons for milk, wine or juices. We are also exploring new markets in mattress production. As a truly global company, we have the know-how, the vision, and the staying power to turn innovative ideas into next generation solutions.

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