Keeping the Environment Cool
The ice machine buzzwords for 2007 are energy efficiency. The goal is machines that use less energy and water and make ice more quickly and efficiently. In some cases, the environmental orientation even extends to the materials of which the machines are made. But the overriding goal is producing machines that not only benefit the end user economically but also pay heed to a growing concern for the environment.
“Energy consumption in the commercial machines is our primary focus,” says Jon O'Hern, global product line manager, Manitowoc Ice. Several states, including California, Wisconsin, New York, Vermont and Washington, offer rebates to consumers for use of ice machines that are rated at a certain level, and Manitowoc “is the market leader in terms of energy efficiency,” he says. With few exceptions, Manitowoc machines address the energy issue head-on. One of the newest is the SPA-160 Ice Dispenser. Designed for ice bucket filling in hotels, motels and resorts, it accepts a 22-inch-wide Manitowoc ice machine and features a patented rocking chute dispense mechanism that cuts down on spillage. O'Hern says the less energy-efficient Q series is being phased out and will be replaced by the S. Rebates range from $75 to $500.
The Wisconsin company built more efficiency into its machines starting last year with introduction of its S series, O'Hern says. “We have better sanitation features built into this,” he says. “It's a quieter machine, with what we call an ‘eSound’ quality. In addition, serviceability is the final new feature we have built in. That is made possible with access to the inside of the machine, the Food Zone, with a swinging front door. Basically, the primary focus this year is to continue the release of more energy-efficient models. We will release a full line of flaker and nugget machines in this process as well.”
The pride of Hoshizaki America is the DKM-500, a new ice machine in the manufacturer's Serenity Series. It features the company's exclusive KM Cuber, a stainless steel evaporator and front accessibility. The company says it is 35-percent quieter than other hotel dispensers, and is available with six-inch legs or six-inch casters.
“It is the only one-piece unit design in the market today,” says Julie Strain, Hoshizaki America marketing manager. “It is the only unit that has antimicrobial in the push button area.” The DKM-500 features HoshiGuard Antimicrobial Agent, which reduces opportunities for cross-contamination, according to the company. It is a material “embedded in the ice-making zone during our manufacturing process and is also in the push button,” Strain says. “It inhibits the growth of bacteria and odor.”
Several Hoshizaki ice machines meet California Energy Commission guidelines and qualify for several state utility rebates, Strain says. “We are an innovative company looking for the best-quality products and materials to incorporate into our equipment and manufacturing process. We manufacture a product such as the DKM to not only benefit the hotel owner but the end-user/hotel guest and the service technician as well.”
Hoshizaki aims to serve every area of hospitality and foodservice, Strain says, addressing the needs of guestroom units and server areas with, respectively, its AM and KM series machines. “We target all aspects of the hospitality segment,” she says.
Also competing in the energy-efficiency sweepstakes: Scotsman Ice Systems, debuting its Prodigy ice machine. The series has external indicators and, according to Marketing Manager Garth Pearson, the “lowest energy consumption available on the market.”
Not only does the Prodigy line boast “the most energy-efficient compressors,” it has a unique harvest-assist mechanism to accelerate the harvesting of the ice off the evaporator plate, Pearson says. “It spends less time trying to get the ice off the plate and more time making ice,” he says.
Scotsman offers several new sizes, including an 1,800-lb. air-cooled machine targeting convention centers, catering, large banquet facilities, and airlines. “We've always offered water-cooled and remote-cooled units, but now we've got an air-cooled unit for those people who want it,” Pearson says. “It's more ice in a smaller, air-cooled package.”
What these developments attest to is the higher profile of the ice machine. “Ice machines were really far down the list in terms of equipment the big chain restaurants focused on,” Pearson says. Ice machines are problematic because they use water, which is always a challenge. In kitchens, the key equipment — the ice machine, the steamer, and the “ware washer” — use water.
Now that Scotsman has put external indicator lights on its ice machines, water is less of a worry. “Customers are most interested in less energy use and less water consumption,” he says. “They want to know what the ice machine is doing to prevent problems. Most people don't know there's an issue with their ice machine until the last cube's been taken out of the bin, and the people using the ice aren't necessarily the ones responsible for maintenance and repair, so they don't tell you until it's too late.”
Not to panic; with Scotsman's new Prodigy series and its external indicator lights, the “ice machine tells you it needs something before there's a crisis so you can take care of it without interrupting operations. The light tells you there's a problem. On the flip side, it tells you, hey, I'm working fine.
“If there's a green light, everything is working great and you don't have to worry,” Pearson says. “You can focus on all the other challenges.”
Finally, ICE-O-Matic has a new line, the Pearl ICE line of commercial ice makers. Pearl ICE machines produce high volumes of soft, chewable ice crystals designed specifically to enhance drink programs and ice displays in the food service and food retail industries. According to ICE-O-Matic, operators will appreciate the energy efficiency, improved profits and increased beverage sales while customers enjoy the soft, chewable ice form. Pearl ICE machines can be used with traditional storage bins or combined with a beverage dispenser for drink programs. For more information about Pearl ICE, contact ICE-O-Matic at 1-866-PURE-ICE or visit www.iceomatic.com.
American Ice Machines, circle 66; Automatic Ice & Beverage, circle 67; Hoshizaki America, circle 68; Kold-Draft, circle 69; Manitowoc Ice, circle 70; Scotsman Ice Systems, circle 71. For more information and related articles, go to www.LHonline.com.
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