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Is Your Undercounter Ice Machine Under-performing?

 

[posted June 4, 2012]

Keeping pace with our continuing effort to keep potential ice machine owners educated, we will now examine the performance and bin capacity of the undercounter ice machine from a few of the industry's leading suppliers. The undercounter ice machine will definitely provide your business with an added convenience, with its ease of installation and the ability to fit just about anywhere. The accompanied bin also might be just big enough to get your shift started in the proper manner. The main concern with undercounter ice machines however, is whether or not they are able to replenish fast enough to get you through a busy rush or peak in business.

Referring back to one of our previously published articles regarding ice machine production rates, we are able to see that what is advertised is not always what you get. Your ice machine's production is largely influenced by the outside elements, namely air and water temperature increases.

By comparing air-cooled undercounter ice machines that produce standard ice cubes and are similar in price we can see the exact production values of each ice machine under more stressful conditions, when air temperature is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit and water reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit. All of these undercounter ice machines store between 74 and 80 pounds of ice in their bins as well.

Hourly Ice Production Rates

 

As you can see, even at optimal production rates, your ice bin may not be replenishing fast enough to keep up with your business at peak hours. Ice-O-Matic's ice machine produces the most ice per hour, even under the more stressful conditions, but if we break down 168 pounds per day to an hourly figure, we see it only produces 7 pounds an hour, or 1.75 pounds every 15 minutes. As a coffee shop or bar owner, you know iced coffees and chilled drink sales skyrocket on warm days. If your undercounter ice machine is not ready to produce, your customers will be left high and dry.

Since the Scotsman ice machine produces in nice whole numbers, let's see what we can deduce from it when it is performing under optimal conditions. We know it can produce 200 pounds in 24 hours (under optimal temperature conditions), and its bin holds 80 pounds if ice. At the rate of 8.3 pounds of ice per hour, it takes about 9.5 hours to completely fill the ice machine's bin. This might be overnight, between shifts, etc. If you start your day with a full bin, you must A) be sure that your temperature conditions will always be ideal for maximum ice production, and that you will never require more than 8.3 pounds per hour to assure you never empty your bin of ice or B) probably consider an ice machine with a better production rate.

This will also be impacted by how long your business day is, because the undercounter's 80-pound bin acts as your buffer or surplus. If your business volume requires more than the 8.3 pounds per hour, you will be dipping into your bin reserves and certainly, over the course of your business day, depleting the bin. However, if your operating temperatures are not the ideal, then your production rate drops to 6.5 pounds per hour. You empty your bin that much more quickly. So plan accordingly.

Hoshizaki's undercounter ice machine is least affected by stressful operating conditions, only sacrificing 1.5 pounds of production per hour at higher temperatures. Their ice making process is extremely efficient. However, the real production rate is just over 6.9 pounds of ice per hour, so again, if you think you will be needing more ice than that within a short period of time, you may want to move up to an ice machine with a better production rate.

Manitowoc's QD-0212A produces 155 pounds of ice every 24 hours under the hotter conditions. It ends up providing just less than 6.5 pounds per hour. Not the smallest production rate in our sample group, but definitely not going to keep up with demand for iced coffees on a busy summer afternoon.

While the undercounter ice machine offers a great convenience in many establishments, you must take care to accurately calculate the production rates if you want to find the perfect machine. Look for an ice machine that performs well even in the most trying conditions. You can relate the saying "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" to your ice machine production. Busy shifts are stressful enough when trying to accommodate everyone's needs. Your ice machine should not be one to contribute to the chaos; rather it should allow everyone to keep their cool (Ice machine humor - Ha!). Undercounter ice machines should not be considered work horses for your business, nor should they be expected to ice for your entire business, unless your ice requirements PER HOUR are very small.

Undercounter ice machines DO work well as ancillary ice machines to supplement the production of a larger one. Sometimes just having that little bit of extra ice produced each hour by the undercounter unit can make or break the the evening. Many bars, pubs, clubs, and restaurants that set up temporary bars on busy nights have also realized success by having an undercounter ice machine to supplement and service all patrons, thus maximizing sales.

At IceMachinesPlus.com, we aim to educate all of our customers and potential consumers with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions and purchases. Always be sure to do the math, and prepare for your ice machine to operate in the worst working conditions. This way your undercounter ice machine will always meet or exceed your expectations.

Ice Machines Plus

 

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