Supermarkets, restaurants, and convenience store customers rely on ice machines that are durable, dependable, and easy on energy use. Refrigeration contractors want ice machines that are easy to install and service. Manufacturers have been listening, and have released some new products designed to keep both customers and technicians cool. John Sara, senior product manager, ice machines for Manitowoc Foodservice Group, Manitowoc, WI, adds that end users also prefer ice machines that are easy to clean.
“Time is money. Nobody wants to spend two or three hours cleaning an ice machine. An easy-toclean model can be taken care of in one hour,” Sara says.
Manitowoc has incorporated “air assist” technology in its cube ice machines in order to reach Energy Star® efficiency targets.
“When the machine enters harvest mode and warms up, the air assist function helps break the vacuum between the ice sheet and the evaporator grid, to speed up the harvest cycle and shorten the ice production cycle time and reduce energy consumption,” Sara says. Manitowoc’s S-Series 450 ice cube machine dispenses up to 460 pounds of ice per day.
J. Kevin McCool, executive vice president, sales and marketing for Howe Corporation, Chicago, IL, notes the increased interest in sustainability among supermarket end-users.
“The issue of sustainability has become immense in the last two or three years,” McCool says. “Wal-Mart has been taking a leadership role in sustainability, being the largest retailer in the world. That relates to Howe in that our product is robust, heavy-duty equipment designed for supermarket applications.
“We have a 25-year evaporator warranty, and often we compete with companies whose ice machines have two- and three-year warranties. We’ve also been able to show our customers that a longer-lasting piece of equipment with greater energy efficiency has a smaller carbon footprint. From a sustainability standpoint, it’s a very appealing product,” McCool says.
Howe’s D-500 ice dispenser is designed for heavy-commercial and industrial food distribution and processing applications. The machine’s live floor incorporates three 9-in. augers, to dispense ice in an even, consistent flow of up to 120 lbs per minute.
Jeff Biel, product manager for Scotsman Ice Systems, Vernon Hills, IL, says the last thing a store customer wants is a technician who is held up by outdated technology.
He reports continued contractor satisfaction with the company’s Prodigy™ ice machine, first introduced in 2006.
“We try to help the contractor look like a hero,” says Biel. “We don’t want them to have to take a long time to diagnose a problem and take care of it. We’ve tried to make the Prodigy easy to install and troubleshoot, with an Auto Alert power indicator light that signifies there’s power, and a status light that indicates correct operation.”
Prodigy’s SmartBoard™ enables technicians to determine operating issues quickly, which helps ensure equipment is fixed right the first time.
Danny Moore, director of technical support, Hoshizaki America, Inc., Peachtree City, GA, believes technicians appreciate consistency in system design as new models are developed.
“Our engineers try to develop new products that maintain consistency of component location and operation,” Moore explains. “The most important tool for a service technician is the sequence of operation of a specific piece of equipment. As an example, our basic cuber sequence of operation hasn’t changed since the original design in 1986. The flaker sequence has been consistent since 1964. Once a technician learns the sequence of operation for an ice machine he can diagnose problems on that product more efficiently.”