Ice Machine Sizing: More than drinks served

Author:  Wil York, Technical Training Manager
Ice is a lot like electricity.  You never really notice or pay much attention to it – until it’s not there.  Running out of ice is a nightmare scenario for busy restaurant and bar operators.  Instead of focusing on providing a great customer experience, they need to track down emergency ice.  It could be the result of a fault with the machine, and it could also be incorrect machine sizing.  

When selecting an ice machine, we tend to think about the number of servings that will be poured, serving size, peak periods and the numerous other ways that ice may be used.   These are all very important considerations and must be calculated carefully.  But equally important is an evaluation of the environment in which the machine will be placed. 

Ice Production
Ice Machine production is typically reported by ambient air, and water supply temperature, generally either 90˚F air/70˚F water, or 70˚F air/50˚F water.  These guidelines are helpful in evaluating the production differences between different ice machine brands and products, however, reported production and actual production can vary significantly based on the location (Ambient Conditions) of the ice machine. 

Let’s look at an example.  An Indigo® NXT IT0750A is a self-contained, air-cooled, modular cuber that uses R410A CFC-free refrigerant.  On average, it produces 12,800 Btu’s through heat of rejection – enough to heat a 550 ft2 room.  In a kitchen with an ambient temperature of 80˚F and 70˚F water temperature, you can expect it to produce 590 pounds of ice in a 24-hour period.  Now assume that the HVAC system isn’t able to handle the heat from the ice machine and the myriad of other kitchen equipment, and the ambient temperature increases to 100˚F.  At this point, with the same 70˚F incoming water temperature, ice production decreases to 490 pounds – a 17% decrease.  Additionally, the cycle time (freeze time + harvest time) increases 23%, or about 2 minutes.  This is an important consideration if you need to replenish ice during peak periods.

Options for Your Operation
Depending on your situation, there are options available to mitigate these types of production fluctuations.  The first solution is to properly size your machine with an understanding of your HVAC system, ventilation 900A-(2).pngrequirements around the machine, and temperature fluctuations in your region and building space.  If a self-contained unit is the only option for your space, then moving to a higher production ice machine may be your best bet.  Using the same example from above, an IF0900A will produce 645 pounds of ice at 100˚F ambient temperature and 70˚F water, ensuring you will have enough ice to meet your daily requirements. 

If your building allows for it, a remote condensing unit may also be an option.  Remote units are often paired with high production ice machines.  They remove the condenser to the building exterior – typically to the roof, where the heat of rejection is dispersed into the surrounding environmentVertical-Condenser-Remote.jpg.  For buildings with limited HVAC, this removes the heat from the operation and doesn’t impact the internal ambient temperature.  Extreme external temperatures can also impact remote units, however, so it’s important to keep geographic location and climate in mind when considering these options.  

Another option is to pair a larger bin with your ice machine head.  While this may require and adapter kit, for certain businesses where volume is heavier on certain days, it may allow the operator to pre-build ice supply in the bin.  For bars and restaurants with heavy weekend traffic this can be an affordable solution to increase ice availability.  When paired with a programmable ice machine head, such as Manitowoc’s Indigo NXT, the unit can be scheduled to produce ice on a schedule tailored to the needs of the business. 

The Right Machine for Your Business
A commercial ice machine is a significant investment.  Fortunately, when you work with trained ice specialists, they will know the questions to ask to ensure that you have the best solution to ensure that you have the solution that will provide a steady and reliable supply of fresh ice for years to come!
Posted: 1/25/2021 3:45:39 PM by Aaron Brix | with 0 comments

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