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ICE MACHINES


at the push of a button. Antimicrobial protection is moulded into components, there are reminders and cleaning alerts, and access for servicing is made easy. “We have the easiest-to-clean machines on the market, which help customers save money through preventative maintenance. They can clean our machines themselves because they have easy access to the front- facing foodzone. The priority is to make the technology simple and reliable. Alerts mean we can warn customers of problems early, so they can fi x them before the ice runs out,” says Jones. As a consultant, Camacho sees cleaning and maintenance as an increasingly important factor in the minds of users. “Customers are looking for energy


effi ciency and reduced water usage per pound of ice. But a big deal is how easy ice machines are to clean. In a wet environment you can get a lot of mould and bacteria, which could be a health issue. Manufacturers have been making equipment easier to clean. They are using plastic with anti-microbial qualities that kill bacteria and prevent mould growth, but you still need to have a good maintenance programme in place,” he remarks. When it comes to maintenance, Scotsman has thought about how to ensure operators can service machines correctly. “We have been using QR codes on our machines that operators can scan to access things such as the warranty history, servicing manuals and cleaning instructions. It encourages preventative maintenance, which extends the life of the machine. We have also put warning lights on the outside that can be seen from the whole kitchen,” says Biel.


Inspiring innovation


It is a big challenge for manufacturers to differentiate their products, as all of them are aiming for big targets such as energy effi ciency. “The main way manufacturers differentiate products is by increasing effi ciency, but some, such as Manitowoc Ice, talk about how quiet their machines


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are,” says Camacho. “Machines are also getting smaller and many now have self- diagnostic capability, which includes a digital display to clearly show when there is a problem.”


There are nevertheless areas in which some companies have made breakthroughs. Manitowoc Ice has addressed noise, and has products that operate more quietly, as well as some that can be programmed to turn off at night so as not disturb guests in hotels. Another innovation issue is the reduction of footprint, with units becoming smaller while maintaining output. “We are constantly looking to increase productivity and reduce the space the machines take up,” says Scotsman’s Biel. When new dispensers come out like Coca- Cola Freestyle, which is a small unit, then we need to respond. So, we put a high productivity unit into a 22-inch space.” “At Ice-O-Matic we were the fi rst to use harvest assist technology to improve effi ciency and the fi rst to use anti-microbial products” says Kevin Fink, company president. “We were also fi rst to recognise that customers don’t have a surplus of space, so we put the air discharge on the top of the unit, rather than on the side, so other equipment can be put right next to the machines.”


The most radical response to the issue of saving space has come from Follett Ice, which has a system for delivering ice remotely through a tube (see right). “I specifi ed the Follett Ice machine in a hospital and it is a very helpful system as the ice maker does not have to sit on top of the dispenser. Now, we are seeing other manufacturers copy that idea, although it tends not to be the big names in the industry,” remarks Camacho.


The basic ice-making system is standard for all manufacturers and is not about to change, but we can expect the industry to keep on looking at specifi c aspects like energy effi ciency or serviceability, resulting in simple machines that can do more for less.


Remote control Follett Ice is the only provider of a technology that has helped many outlets improve sales from drinks dispensers and make better use of valuable space. Its remote ice delivery equipment (RIDE) pushes Chewblet ice through a tube to fi ll a drink station or storage bin. The icemaker can be put under the counter, mounted on a wall or in a back room, and will push ice through the tube to wherever it is needed. “We can deliver ice from 25 metres away, which means our customers have fewer problems with space. We are seeing more demand for ice from all over the world and we see menus becoming more complex so it is challenging to prepare more and diff erent kinds of food in the same space. Our customers need more equipment so there is a requirement to lower the constraints on where the ice machine can be located,” says Scott Bingham of Follett Ice. Traditionally, dispensers are auto-fi lled by


an ice machine that sits directly on top, which would create noise and heat in a retail area. With RIDE technology the same process can be performed using an ice machine situated away from the customer area. “Tube delivery, which is unique to us, has


been around for a while, but we are seeing growing demand for sanitary ice and a trend towards putting the ice-maker on top of the dispenser,” says Bingham. “If ice is stored in a bin then it needs to be manually transported, which raises the possibility of human contact and cross-contamination. Delivering ice through a tube reduces human contact and makes it easier to clean the hopper.”


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