Investing in an ice machine is easy, right? You just buy an ice machine on eBay, put it behind the bar and you’re done! I’m afraid not. Here are some common mistakes people make when choosing and owning ice machines.
Here are some tips to keep in mind if your business depends on ice, whether it is for the food industry, transportation or catering. Here are some mistakes to avoid:
1. Not Calculating How Much Ice Your Venue Actually Needs.
Is the ice just being used in the bar? (common assumption – kitchens, buffets, salad bars and room service could also take ice from the machine)
What drinks will you be serving? (cocktails, whisky etc. which require cubed or flaked ice, or mostly beer and wine?)
Consider peak periods to calculate the most ice you will need on the busiest day.
Then add in an extra 20% for safety!
TOP TIP: during quieter periods you can always bag your own ice and store it in a freezer for peak periods – storage of ice is cheaper than ice production! You can also buy modular units; in other words, ice makers you can buy extra storage units for. They’re a practical solution, but just make sure when you look at your options you always exceed storage capacity to production capability.
2. Not Taking Into Consideration Your Water Quality
This creates a surprising number of problems in the ice machines.
– To get the best quality ice it is important to use a filter to remove 99.9% of impurities, odours and tastes. This filter should be changed and monitored regularly.
– Products such as Calkleen can also be used to remove limescale that can be generated by water and that builds up in the machine.
3. Not Cleaning the Ice Machine Regularly
– Most of the top models have a cleaning cycle and this needs to be activated on a regular basis.
Water that enters an ice machine is not considered a food product, however, once it becomes ice, the location must ensure that it is treated as a food product. Never forget that, from your regulator’s point of view, ice is a foodstuff!
– Clean your ice machines at least twice a year and decalcify them at least once a year, depending on local water conditions.
4. Placing the Ice Maker in the Wrong Location
Location of the ice machine is everything! It’s imperative for the machine to operate efficiently.
– Placing an ice machine in a hot kitchen, for example, would mean the unit won’t produce as much ice due to high ambient temperatures. It would also mean the unit requires more cleaning due to grease build up on vents etc.
– Check the clearances on the model’s specification sheet, especially if it’s air cooled (these units always require breathing space).
– Also consider accessibility. Always make sure you can access the ice bin, the vents, and the filter as these require cleaning and maintenance regularly.
5. Installing the Machine Yourself
It’s tempting to cut corners here, but there are good reasons why all ice machine manufacturers recommend employing a refrigeration mechanic for installation!
– A good refrigeration mechanic will ensure the unit is working properly before they leave the venue.
– They will also ensure the water flow rate, filter, and piping are all installed to the manufacturer’s requirements.
The wrong installation may void your warranty and cost you a lot of money, so always make sure it’s carried out correctly.