The ice maker market may be seen as highly established in the UK, but that doesn’t mean that new innovations aren’t consistently being pushed to the fore. The green agenda in particular has been a technological driver for these appliances.
At the forefront of this wave is Hoshizaki UK, as national sales manager Roz Scourfield revealed: “We are dedicated to developing the very best technologies so that ice making efficiency is best enhanced. A most recent example of this dedication is through the development of Hoshizaki’s CycleSaver – an innovative technology and design which is used within our brand-new range of KM Edge ice machines. CycleSaver allows for the same quantity of ice to be produced in approximately half as many cycles, thus allowing operators to make significant energy savings. The reduction in cycles helps to preserve the life of the machine, minimising any possible maintenance requirements.”
So how has the manufacturer created this latest advance? “When it comes to sustainability within ice making and refrigeration, there is no such thing as too much innovation; we believe that there is always room for improvement,” commented Scourfield. “By conducting pioneering research such as the ‘Gram Green Paper’ and more recently, the ‘Equipped for the Future Report’, Hoshizaki has been able to look at sustainability and the future of the foodservice industry in new ways, developing our energy efficient innovations in the process.
“As a global business, Hoshizaki puts significant emphasis on research and development, investing tens of thousands of dollars annually. Testing our new equipment in some of the most demanding markets in the world, we are perfectly positioned, as a business, to continue driving innovation and technological development across the sector. The launch of the CycleSaver technology in the new KM Edge range is evidence of this.”
Another major player is Welbilt’s Manitowoc ice maker brand. One of its most recent introductions was the Indigo NXT series of modular ice machines. Jonathan Smith, field marketing manager, ice and blended ice for Welbilt EMEA, feels that the range “sets a new standard in simplicity, sanitation, energy efficiency and reliability; standards which are achieved thanks to the development of innovative technologies.
“For example, the Indigo NXT’s 2.5in easyTouch screen allows operators to easily control ice production, and thus, energy and water usage, according to a facility’s specific requirements. In fact, programming ice production on the Indigo NXT is as simple as setting an alarm on a smart phone.”
In addition to this, Manitowoc has developed a ‘Clean Minder’ feature. Available across NXT models, this technology works by sending cleaning and maintenance reminders to the display screen, thus encouraging operators to keep their machines in good condition. Smith added: “Couple this with the fact that the Indigo NXT is the one of the easiest ice machines to clean on the market, and operators are left with a practical, yet technologically superior ice making solution.”
In terms of product development, he emphasised: “A commitment to innovation is something that is part of Manitowoc Ice’s DNA. We are constantly developing new technologies, working on ways to simplify the ice making process, as well as building intelligence into many of our comprehensive range of ice making models.
“Innovations such as the external Scoop Holder and new ergonomic Ice Scoop with Knuckle Guard, for example, has helped us better address growing concerns surrounding ice hygiene.”
The Manitowoc brand is supplied to the UK market through Foodservice Equipment Marketing, and commercial director Mark Hogan had his own thoughts on the hygiene issue: “It’s very frustrating that, with all the effort and innovation that’s gone in to developing ice machines and accessories, there is still a problem with hygiene.
“FEM has launched Manitowoc’s latest ice bins, the D Series, with a focus on hygiene. The five model range of bins is the perfect accompaniment to the Manitowoc energy efficient, modular Indigo ice maker.”
The D Series ice bins’ exterior has a stainless steel DuraTech finish that is said to be durable and attractive. It is also resistant to fingerprints, dirt and corrosion. A stay-open design should keep the bin door out of the way while ice is being scooped. The scoop holder is sited above the ice line for easy access and best hygiene practice.
The smallest model of the range is the D320, which can store 95kg of ice cubes. At the other end of the spectrum is the largest storage bin, the D970, which has capacity to hold up to 322kg.
Hogan reported that dealer demands for ice makers include: “They want reliability and equipment that is long lasting and backed up by a robust warranty. Manitowoc ice machines have some of the best warranties on the market – for example, all components have at least a 3 year warranty. On some models, the warranty on the evaporator and compressor is 5 years.”
Over at DC Warewashing & Icemaking Systems, it has recently developed a new version of its ‘Frozen Stone’ machine. Director, Bob Wood, explained: “The characteristic of this kind of ice is its ‘compactness’ that grants a long-lasting preservation and satisfies any exigency in cocktail preparation and food display.
“This technology can also help to reduce water waste, for example using 1litre of water to make 1kg of ice instead of 3litres of water will help to save on water, which in turn will save on electrical consumption and of course the overall cost.”
On development processes he revealed: “At DC we always work based on market feedback. We listen to the operators, to the technicians and to the sales network in the field. Once all the info is collected, we like to share our best possible solutions with our distributors and advise them on what’s available in the future to support market demand. This can be in respect of hygiene, sanitations and eco-friendly innovations.
“In addition to this, all our elements are used in compliance with the FD regulations, and therefore for us, the vision of innovation should always be based on regulations like the Food Contact Materials regulation (EC 1935/2004), NSF and keeping local standard requirements like WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme).”
He added: “Dealer demand is always about the best combination between quality and price; they want to have certified products and a good quality of ice. We as manufacturers are always open to knowing how ice is changing, it’s not just a tool to keep things cool anymore, ice is an ingredient, so ice makers must be aligned with this expectation and the certifications to guarantee these market demands.”
For the Ice-O-Matic brand, exclusively supplied to the UK market through Classeq, new technologies are focused around increased food safety. Ice-O-Matic introduced an ice machine series that has a ‘food zone’ in the ice machine, which is completely sealed to avoid harmful bacteria reaching the inside of the machine. Ice-O-Matic made this a standard feature in its new modular range.
In addition, new, exclusive technology is encompassed in the new Elevation machines, which are designed to offer a unique solution to the problem of hot-air discharge clearance. The Dual Exhaust feature, which is standard on every Elevation Series unit, discharges hot air from both the side and the top, so regardless of air flow requirements these units should adapt, making it a solution for tight spaces regardless of air flow restrictions.
Classeq marketing manager Adam Lenton summarised: “This unique feature increases installation flexibility and reduces the potential of obstructed exhaust and means there is no need to stock additional variant models and kits to adjust airflow – this is an industry first – Ice-O-Matic is the only brand on the market to not require a kit.
“Ice-O-Matic has created new innovations in response to the needs of its customers – this is demonstrated in the case of the reduced footprint of the Ice-O-Matic machines, which was pushed by an international QSR chain. Like most QSR chains they have very limited space back of house and until now all modular ice machines needed 15cm at the right side to get rid of the hot air.”
At Hubbard Systems, which supplies the Scotsman range of ice makers, recent additions to the EcoX range are Scotsman EC models – self-contained ice makers with a built in wastewater pump. Hubbard Systems’ national sales manager Adam Byron said: “They are the only ice machines with this technology using eco-friendly refrigerants on the market. The pump gives greater flexibility in installation, allowing a wider range of locations to take advantage of a supply of crystal-clear ice cubes.
“Traditional ice machines have to be installed above the drains, to allow waste water to flow away. The EC’s pump means they can be sited further away from the drain, or even below the drain height, making it ideal for use, for example, in basement bars.”
Scotsman has ensured that the EcoX range uses only natural refrigerants to be fully compliant with current and forthcoming F-gas regulations. This gives them an Ozone Depletion Potential of zero and a Global Warming Potential of three or less.
Byron concluded: “In the ice machine market, there is a strong trend towards energy- and water-saving features. This has been driven both by dealers, whose customers are looking to curb utility bills, and manufacturers developing new technologies.”
Ice filter innovations
One innovation for ice makers that’s available now is the Pentair Everpure 4SI filter. This filter has been designed to reduce slime growth in ice machines and ice bins. Organic slime is a form of biofilm that builds up when yeast, mould or other organic matter is allowed to grow unchecked.
The Pentair Everpure 4SI filter retains chlorine and chloramines in the feed water which act to inhibit slime growth. It is certified to reduce harmful cysts such as cryptosporidium and giardia and is designed to be easy to change, with a twist-fit connection.
The ice machine filters can also reduce maintenance, service costs and downtime by reducing internal limescale build-up which can result in the clogging of distribution lines, malfunction of probes, floats, pumps, solenoids and valves. Scale build-up inside ice machines can cause components such as the evaporator plate to function less efficiently, leading to higher energy consumption. Preventing this limescale from forming keeps equipment functioning efficiently.