May1999 Issue (Updated March 2001 Issue)
By Brian Ward
SPECIAL REPORT: The Cold Facts On Ice Makers
Try running your operation without ice, and it wont run far. Heres an update on specing capacities, air-vs.-water cooling, evap designs and more. Plus outlines on the six top brands.
Sure, the foods you put the price tag on are important. But face it: Without ice, just about everything else grinds to a halt pretty quickly.
Which puts your ice maker (for story purposes well focus on cubers) close to your heartprobably right next to the triple-digit drink margins.
So how do you spec it? What do you look for? And how is the current crop of cubers different from the cantankerous boxes of yore that gave everybody nightmares about compressors and sediment damage?
To get the scoop (no ice pun intended), we contacted the six biggest names in the cuber business, plus a multiline distributor for the broad maintenance picture. To keep things from spinning out of control into a thousand-page hallucinogenic, we decided to focus on just the cubers themselves. Any mention of bins, ice crushers, flakers, ice-maker/drink dispensers and other sundries tied to the ice business would be minimal, we decided. And the great debate on ice shapes and sizes would go by the board, too. Just too many permutations to detail in one story.
All six invited manufacturers were up for the story. Hoshizaki America; IMI Cornelius; Ice-O-Matic, An Enodis Co.; Kold-Draft; Manitowoc Ice Inc. and Scotsman Ice Systems, also of Enodis, all anted up. They anted up with product catalogssome thick as phone books, by the wayphotos and tons of specifying tips, along with test data and maintenance guidelines. Combined, they represent well over 100 basic models, not counting the multipliers like cooling options, bin combinations and so on.
All sixand this is no hypeare building a far better product than, say, 15 years ago. Reliability is better; fit and finish are better; utility efficiency is better. Its not that the ice-making process itself has changed all that much from the days of maintenance horror stories. But some new-think has emerged here and there, and has stimulated evolution and better execution across the category.
On that score, many makers in this group give the nod to component suppliers, who have stepped up with far better compressors, condensers and so on. Rust control, long a bugaboo in cubers, has improved greatly. Filtration has virtually eliminated contamination-related woes. And programmed electronic controls, after some teething problems, have matured into reliable systems. Depending on the system you get, they now will adjust the cuber for seasonal differences, warn you of impending problems, and so on. And, on a less exotic note, most of the models here are stackable, a fair response to soaring footprint costs.
A Look At The Brands
IMI Cornelius, a name long well known in dispensing, got into the cuber business via acquisition of Ross Temp back in the early 1980s, and commenced strengthening the product. In 90, the RT line went away. By 94, the current I Series debuted, and its been expanding ever since. The company also has extended into the undercounter business with the IACS224 self-contained unit and also went huge with the IAC2448.
Today, the Cornelius stable includes three undercounter cubers plus 11 more cubers ranging in size from 300 to a hefty 2400. All use R-404a. Also available are chunkettes and flakers, as well as bins. Among key differentiations: A particular attention to cubers top-mounted to drink dispensers, of course, but also its all-stainless panels and frames, and a lifetime warranty against rust. Another plus is a computer-driven system that automatically handles seasonal ice-making adjustments.
Further, IMI Cornelius has two additional lines. One line uses the IMD model, which is an ice maker/dispenser for healthcare markets, and the other is for shipboard marine applications.
Also key: Cornelius is now the only ice maker manufacturer to offer built-in Microban technology. Microbans antimicrobial ingredients inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew. The ingredients, added during the manufacturing process, are part of all plastic components that come in contact with water and ice. Cornelius also plans to introduce a new patent-pending line of ice makers in 2001.
Kold-Draft, a division of Uniflow Mfg., offers a different approach in more ways than one. First, it focuses on just five basic models, four of them recently upgraded, a GT351, GB451, GT550, GB654 and GB1254. Production values run roughly from 250 to 1,115 lbs./day, and each one can be specd for your choice of full cube, half cube or cubelet. The new GT550 weighs in as one of the narrower 500s in the field at just 30. All models run on R-404a, and construction is all stainless.
Apart from the rifle-shot product spectrum, another distinction is K-Ds ice-making method. Unlike the other five here, which all use whats called a vertical evaporator, Kold-Draft uses a horizontal evaporator. The significance, K-D says, is that the system involves water flowing upward before reaching a flat-mount evaporator. Gravity does its job, the company says, pulling sediments downward out of the water flow before it reaches the evaporator. The result: No impurities fouling the water or the cuberand in almost all cases, no filter is required.
Manitowoc Ice redid its whole cuber line in 98, dubbing it the Q Series, and during 99 added two models and also unveiled its all-new QuietQube technology.
The QuietQube system is a remote design using patented CVD (thats for cool vapor defrostas opposed to conventional hot gas) technology that offers several advantages. The CVD system allows the compressor and the condenser fan motor to be moved out to the remote condensing unit, cutting ambient noise by 75% compared to a conventional remote setup. The gas technology also clears the way for a redesigned condenser that can operate at higher temps, requiring fewer defrost cycles. And with the compressor outside, it cools more effectively for improved reliability.
The QuietQube system, first shown on the Q100C and Q1400C at NAFEM/99, was added last year on a Q600C and Q800C.
As for the Q Series overall, it includes an undercounter Q-210 plus 17 models ranging from the Q-270 up to a big-boy 1800. (Separately, Manitowoc also offers a QM-30, QM-4, QM130, QM210 and QM270 undercounter self-contained model, plus a marine line.) All boast R-404a coolant; a new water-batch system for upgraded performance; and stainless exteriors, composite resin bases and polyclad steel interiors for corrosion resistance. Available throughout the line is the AuCS (Automated Cleaning System), which automatically runs cleaner or sanitizer through the system on whatever timetable you set.
Rounding out the group is Scotsman Ice Systems, now an Enodis company. Its ice-producing equipment includes modular and self-storing cubers and modular and self-storing flakers.
Scotsman touts its CM3 Series of cubers, which can produce 200 lbs./day to 2,000 lbs./day in 22, 30 and 48 units. The line uses little water and electricity to cut your operating costs over time. Special cube ice machine features include the AutoIQ Control System, which monitors and controls machine functions to ensure consistent ice production and reduce operation costs. The evaporator plate is a hot-tin-dipped, molecularly bonded plate that has been field-tested and proven 99.4% reliable over five years, according to Scotsman.
Also, the rust-proof polyethylene base and food zone are insulated with 1 1/2-thick foam to keep them cool. The rust proofing comes under a lifetime warranty.
New to the Scotsman flake and nugget ice machineswhich produce from 450 lbs./day to 3,000 lbs./day in 21, 30 and 42 unitsis a monitoring system called AutoSentry. AutoSentry constantly monitors the workload on the gearbox and shuts down the system before a costly problem develops. Electrical conductivity water sensors eliminate low- or no-water failures. A plastic drain pan with larger outlet helps channel water away to prevent particulate buildup and rust.
So there you have the lineups. When you start defining your needs, your priorities will be unique, of course, but your spec issues will generally fit into these categories: How much ice do you need, and where do you need it? Thatll get you size and location of the ice cuber. Then youll want to sort through cooling systemsair vs. water, and self-contained vs. remote. Then youll get into such things as water and electrical efficiencies, cube shapes and so on.
Start with production. You experienced hands already have a history to refer to, and you probably know pretty well what you need for your own menu, clientele, food volume and so on. If youre less, uh, grizzled, or venturing out of your usual pattern with a new concept or market, though, you could get input from your dealer or the ice maker distributor or the soda guys.
Basically, though, for restaurants and cafeterias, youll probably find your numbers working out to about 2 lbs./person or per cover of cubed ice, or maybe a bit more. Bars, figure 3 lbs. (Note these are per traffic, not per seat.)
For hospitals and nursing homes, figure 5 lbs./bed, or maybe a little more. Hotel/motels, estimate 5 lbs./room for room service, and maybe a third of that for foodservice. Banquets would probably figure a pound per seat.
If youre looking specifically for off-premise traffic, as in soft drinks, figure half to two-thirds the drink weight will be ice. And whatever youre doing, if youre using flaked ice, bump the numbers up a bit because flakes fall more densely.
Then, test all that against your rush volumes. Will the cuber keep up with your heavier days, or a lunch rush that accounts for half your daily ice volume? Add in a safety margin so the cuber-plus-bin-reserve will meet your heaviest needs. The bins important here. Make sure its big enough, and keep in mind largish bins might take bigger footprints than what were citing for the cuber.
A final note on production: Do notrepeat do notget yourself tangled up in model numbers while youre sizing. Focus on production numbers. If you decide you need 800 lbs./day, youll find that youre looking at a couple of 800-series models plus a couple of 1000s. Some 600s make 480 lbs./day, while others actually make 600.
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Sticky WicketsAnd Water Bills
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