How Much Ice Do I Need?
First of all, no two businesses are alike and ice usage is rarely consistent even within the same industry. Use this information here as a guideline. You know your business better than anyone. Better to err on the side of caution and always have ice on hand.
The correctly-sized commercial ice machine for your business will be able to produce enough ice to keep up with your hourly and daily requirements without producing too much extra ice which may end up sitting and melting (meaning electricity, water, and money going down the drain).
Keep in mind that generally, commercial ice machines are sized based upon the amount of ice produced in a 24-hour period.
You therefore will need to know as a rule of thumb how much ice your application will require during a 24-hour period, in order to determine what production rate the ice machine must have.
You will likely need to know the number of people being served by that particular application/location.
And you will need to know what style of ice is needed at that particular application/location.
When choosing your ice machine, consider what style of ice you are looking for. Different types of ice are more suitable for specific applications.
Determine your ice production requirements based upon peak needs. You have peaks periods of ice needed during your typical week, dependent upon your industry and situation; for example, a restaurant may have larger needs Thursday through Saturday evening, while a convenience store may have consistent requirements Monday through Friday and more moderate needs on Saturday and Sunday. Plan ahead by selecting an ice machine with a production rate high enough to meet the requirements of the peak periods.
Also consider that more ice may be needed during summer months than in winter. This will vary dependent upon your climate. For example, if you have hotter summers, you may need to select an ice machine with a higher quantity of ice produced in a 24-hour period. Locations with more moderate temperatures during summer will not experience as large an increase in usage over the rest of the year.
Consider purchasing an ice machine specifically for each application or location within your establishment. While adding up the total amount of ice that your business needs and buying a single ice machine unit to make enough ice to supply the entire establishment might save money initially, shuttling ice from a central location to all of the other points where ice is needed can be inefficient, unsanitary, and costly. The ice used in beverages (such as cube ice or nugget ice) may not be ideal for keeping the food items on the salad bar cool (flake ice would be appropriate). Employees rushing around with ice totes, then dumping them into ice storage bins opens up the possibilities for spills and contamination of the ice, not to mention the added time it takes to continually fill ice totes when locations run out.
A self-contained flake ice machine might be dedicated for the salad bar, a cuber head might be mounted upon the self-serve soda or beverage dispenser, and the bartender may have their own undercounter cube ice machine behind the bar. Therefore you would need to calculate your needs for each application/location.
For New Businesses / Establishments
1. Will there be a need for more than one style of ice or for more than one ice machine?
Consider where in your establishment you will need ice. For example, a typical restaurant may have a large ice machine in the kitchen and a smaller ice machine (possibly an undercounter model) behind the restaurant bar. A hotel / motel will typically have an ice machine cuber head mounted on a hotel ice dispenser unit centrally located on each floor of the building. Or a healthcare facility may require a flake ice maker dispenser on each floor or wing.
2. Have you anticipated the growth of your business and the increase in customer traffic (and therefore the increase in demand for ice)?
You may initially select an ice machine that will meet the needs of your business upon opening. But as your business becomes more successful or the facility expands to accommodate additional customers, you may find that your initial ice machine is now unable to meet the demands for ice. Consider starting with an ice machine with an increased production rate to compensate for your growth potential.
Are You Replacing an Old Ice Machine?
1. Was your old ice machine able to keep up with daily ice demand?
If you are replacing an old ice machine, you will know if the unit was able to keep up with daily ice needs. If you were running out of ice in the middle of the business day, you will want to significantly increase the size of the new ice machine. If you were running out only towards the end of the business day, you may only need to bump up the production rate of the new ice machine to the next production level.
2. Do you have existing ice machine components you would like to continue using, but you are worried a large ice machine will make the old components obsolete and you will need to purchase more equipment?
If you DO need a new ice machine with a higher ice production rate than your old machine, but you have an existing ice storage bin or ice dispenser that works perfectly fine and you would like to continue using it, never fear. Most ice machine manufacturers have several ice machine models available in the standard widths with varying production rates. For example, there would be 30" wide ice machine heads that produce 330 LB, 500 LB, 600 LB or 650 LB per day (and more), so you could bump up one or two production rates and still fit your ice machine head on the old storage bin or dispenser.