It's no secret warmer summer temperatures can impact foodservice equipment like ice machines, but operators are sometimes unaware of the simple steps they can take to avoid production inefficiencies, said Bob Bowyer, assistant technical service manager at Ice-O-Matic, a global ice machine and dispenser manufacturer.
"This time of year we receive a higher volume of calls from customers experiencing slower production and they don't know why," he said. "The increased demand for ice combined with hotter temperatures is oftentimes the root of such efficiency problems."
Bowyer recommends following the following four tips for maximum ice machine production:
1. Proper installation: Hire a professional, factory-authorized service technician who understands installation requirements including maximizing airflow and reducing ambient temperatures in and around the machine.
2. Machine placement: Keep the machine in a temperature-controlled environment with at least 6 inches of clearance on either side of the machine. If possible, keep away from other equipment that gives off heat.
3. Regular maintenance: Create a maintenance schedule and perform routine cleaning. Maintenance should be performed at least once every six months, but the frequency of cleaning should be determined based on the look of the water system and condenser at time of maintenance. Dirty evaporators and condensers can decrease ice production so more frequent cleanings may be necessary.
4. ENERGY STAR: Consider investing in an ENERGY STAR-certified unit. The energy-efficient machines typically provide more water and energy savings than comparable, non-ENERGY STAR-rated units.
Rising heat may be a leading factor behind decreased ice machine performance, but failure to perform routine, preventive maintenance can also contribute to production inefficiencies.
"The frequency of cleaning and maintenance typically depends on usage, and application, but six months is the industry standard," Bowyer said. "Dust, debris and scale build-up, especially during peak summer months, can all result in poor-quality ice where cubes are smaller, irregularly shaped, or not produced quickly enough."
For complete cleaning and maintenance tips, watch the video tutorial below.