Skating on thin ice

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Skating on thin ice Skating on thin ice

Nothing is worse than an under performing ice maker in your business. And when you run out it can leave your business skating on thin ice.

For the record, the bags of ice sold at most service stations are not worth it on a regular basis, unless it is an absolute emergency. You are much better of financially as well as from an ice perspective having the correctly performing ice maker in your business.

The Top 3 Questions to ask when buying an Ice Maker

Ice Makers or Ice Machines are one of the most vital refrigeration units in any food business. However, if you don't research your ice machine choice with care, it can quite easily become one of the most problematic units in your business.

The best way to eliminate any bad choice is to ensure you purchase the most suitable ice machine from the start and based clearly on your business' demand for ice.

Here at Sydney Commercial Kitchens one of the most common questions that we get from café & restaurant owners is – "How do I pick the right Ice Machine?"

Our supplier Bromic has the following tips on choosing the correct ice maker for your business.

1. How much ice do I need to produce and store?

Before you actively begin looking it is a great idea to determine how much ice you'll need during service, paying particular attention to demand at peak periods. Although it might be difficult to calculate, this number will help determine the correct storage capacity required followed by the ice makers production per 24 hours.

The following examples show that how 2 differing businesses using 30kg's of ice per day require different machines to service their ice demand.

  • • Cafe A uses 30Kg per day. The cafe is open from 7 am to 9 pm and serves a variety of different foods and drinks. They have an even usage of 10kg for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • • Bar B also uses 30kg per day, however, this bar is only open from 7 pm to 12 am and uses the entire 30kgs in the single 5-hour service.

At first glance, both businesses appear to need a 30Kg ice machine, but this would lead to both businesses running out of ice almost every day.

Cafe A should look for a unit that has at least 10kg of storage that can refill the storage bin three times over the 14 hours they are open. This would then require a unit that produces at least 50Kg per day with 10KG storage. Bromic's IM0050HSC-HE would be a perfect fit. It has a 17kg storage bin that would be full when they come in every morning then creating enough through the day so the bin never empties.

Bar B would need a larger binned unit such as the Bromic IM0064HSC-HE, its 20kg bin would be full when they come in for service and would refill with another 13kg during their 5-hour service, the unit would then automatically shut off when full as to not create ice when not needed.

As you would expect, the amount of ice needed varies between and businesses and industries. Below is an outline an average based on Bromic's current consumers as a reference guide.

Bromic ice machines Industry use based on current customers

2. What's the best ice cube shape for your business?

Identify exactly what shape of ice cube would compliment your product range. Below are the commonly used ice cube forms used by top industry performers.

Solid cube Ice

This is by far the most well-known form of an ice cube. Although a common household style, this cut is ideally used for high-end spirits. As the drinks themselves have less actual liquid than most, the solid cube provides a classic design as well as one of the slowest melting times which allow for the natural flavour of the drink to be retained for as long as possible.

Hollow Ice

This is a common style of ice cut that is used primarily in drinks. The cylinder hole in the ice cube allows for the drink to cool faster by maximising the surface area but also allows for more liquid to be in the cup when compared to the traditional, solid ice cube. This decreased density reduces your ice cubes per serving, helping to decrease costs of drink production per serve.

Hollow ice cubes are also a lot gentler on blender blades compared to the traditional solid cube, which is especially handy when creating smoothies or cocktails.

Half dice Ice

If your business requires a high yield ice cube style for either consumption or storage, this ice cube style is the way to go. These cubes have a thin shape and generate around 160kgs – 485kgs of ice in 24 hours; perfect for restaurants, fast food and bars looking to maximise their cooling and capacity. Additional support of an ice storage bin allows you to comfortably keep up with high-production situations and bulk requirements.

Flake Ice

Ice doesn't have to be used just to keep things cold. This style of ice is cut into a smaller, malleable “flake” form, used primarily to create a dazzling effect on salad bars & seafood displays as well as for storage of delicate produce at just below freezing temperature.

3. Where is the optimal location for the commercial ice machine?

Ice machines require sufficient ventilation, drainage and water set up to ensure correct and optimal functionability.

Ventilation - like any refrigeration product, ice makers require a supply of cool air to make the cooling system work efficiently. Ice machines also create heat as they operate so you will need to ensure that there is sufficient space for hot air-flow escape. Failure to do so can create an environment detrimental to the ice production and unit life span.

You should also be mindful of what other equipment is operating in the same work space as these other machines can also impact on the ambient air temperature.

As an example, in the small bar area of a cafe you might expect to see both an ice maker and a glasswasher, plus a couple of underbench fridges. All of these items are typically located under a stainless steel bench, which effectively traps the hot air in and creates a much hotter ambient environment. This has the potential to impact dramatically on the efficiency of your ice maker

The following chart shows the negative effect that a rise in air and water temperature can have on the ice production capabilities.

Bromic ice machines Industry use based on current customers

Drainage – This is a huge safety consideration to make when purchasing an ice maker for your business. All commercial ice machines must have adequate access to drainage to ensure all local health codes are met and prevent bacterial build-up inside the units themselves.

Water - A good supply of clean water is also incredibly important. Most units will require a water filter to be fitted regardless, but a clean water supply extends the life of this filter drastically. It is also worth investigating whether your current water infrastructure will be able to adequately supply a machine suited to your production goals. Failure to properly filter water can lead to scale build-up and other mineral deposit related issues.

WaterMark Certification

With any ice machine or ice maker, you must ensure the product you are purchasing has the WaterMark Certification. This is a mandatory certification for drainage products to ensure they are fit for purpose and have been appropriately authorised for installation. Purchasing a product without this could lead to a breach of local standards and producing a product not fit for human consumption.

If you're still having difficulty in selecting the correct commercial ice maker, feel free to contact the team at Sydney Commercial Kitchens. We will gladly help you understand and find the perfect ice machine that can enhance your business.

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Doing Rounds of The Kitchen Table

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