Built to be Cleaned

Author:  Jonathan Bailey, Technical Training Specialist

If you look at the marketing materials for commercial ice machines, you’ll see that nearly every one claims that their machines are easy to clean. However, a quick internet search will put those claims into doubt.  If ice machines are so easy to clean, why are there so many images and news reports of dirty ice machines?   
The Biofilm Battle
The majority of ice machines sold in North America   self-contained, air-cooled units.  These machines are relatively easy to install and operate, and they can produce large quantities of ice in a small footprint.  They also draw air in from the surrounding environment to cool the condenser.   As this air is drawn in it brings with it yeast, bacteria, viruses, and dust which can settle into the machine and form colonies known as biofilm. 
Biofilm is present all around us, from the pink stuff in your shower to the gunk in your drainpipes.  Even morning breath is a form of biofilm!   One common characteristic of biofilm in all its’ forms, is that it thrives in damp locations.  According to the Center for Biofilm Engineering at the University of Montana, biofilm is a collection of assorted microorganisms that produce a slimy film known as an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS).  This film is made of sugars, proteins and nucleic acids that allow the microorganisms to bind together and get this – even communicate!  Some studies have indicated that the multicellular construction of biofilms may actually protect them from antimicrobial agents.   
The easiest ice machine to clean, is the machine that stays cleaner longer
The good news is that Manitowoc builds and designs ice machines with sanitation (and biofilm) in mind, because the easiest machine to clean, is the machine that stays cleaner longer.  A great example of this is the Indigo® NXT.  It has a rubber seal around the foodzone that restricts external air from seeping into the evaporator compartment.  It also has a hinged door panel that allows you to easily see and clean your evaporator.  Why is this important?  Because when you clean an ice machine, your feet belong on the floor, not the front panel of the ice machine. 
Other design elements of the machine include foodzone plastics treated with AlphaSan® to inhibit bacteria growth, rounded corners in the foodzone, and snap-fit components.  Rounded corners make it easy to thoroughly wipe the machine down and limit the ability of biofilm to hide away in sharp corners.  Snap-fit parts, like the ice thickness probe, water tray, water curtain, water distribution tube, water probe, and water pump are all easily removed.  Your hands are the only tools you’ll need!  Think about it, when was the last time you sanitized your tools?  Where were they used last?  By having food zone components that are tool free, we are more likely to keep from re-contaminating the area that we just sanitized. 

Time-Stamp.pngSpeaking of hands, the easyTouch® display guides the operator through each step of the cleaning process.  No need to refer back to a manual with 37 steps or play with toggle switches and valves.  With the easyTouch display on Indigo NXT you can trust that cleaning and sanitizing your machine was done correctly.  And with the latest software, you’re able to set cleaning reminders and review the cleaning history with a time stamped date so you can be confident that your machine is being properly maintained.                                                                                                                          

Built to be cleaned
Much is made about ice machines being easy to clean, and that’s important.  No business owner or operator wants to spend hours cleaning an ice machine, or fielding complaints about funny tasting drinks.  But the best way to address cleaning is to choose machines that are designed to stay as clean as possible.  The fact of the matter is, if you need a ladder to access your machine, it’s not easy to clean.  If you need special equipment to reach the evaporator, it’s not easy to clean.  And if it takes 37 steps and a decoder ring to understand the cleaning process, it’s not easy to clean!

When you invest in your next ice machine, save time and money by investing in machines built to be cleaned easily, and to stay cleaner, longer! 
Posted: 2/26/2021 2:15:26 PM by Aaron Brix | with 0 comments

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