How Your Commercial Ice Machines Can Be Too Big and Still Make Too Little Ice
This is the most overlooked factor in choosing commercial ice machines and solving low production problems. Your 600 lbs a day commercial ice machine is suppose to make 4,200 lbs a week under ideal conditions. It may only be making 2,100 lbs a week under those ideal conditions.
The problem is that it will 600 lbs a day if it runs for 24 hours. It is likely that you ice needs peek on weekends and drop off on weekdays. That’s not a problem if the extra ice made during the week can be used on the weekend. Unfortunately the bin fills up and the machine cuts off. The extra capacity is lost.
On older ice makers the bin’s capacity was often close to the machines 24 hour production. If a larger storage capacity was needed, an extension could have been added between the bin and ice machine head. That would almost double the storage capacity.
The current trend is for smaller footprints of restaurant equipment. It is standard now to size the bin at 50% or less of the 24 hour production of the commercial ice machine. As a result, little ice is stored for the peak periods of use.
The old extensions are no longer available for the bins. Larger machines are needed to make up for the smaller bins. One very expensive solution is to stack a second machine on the first. Then both will spend even more time off during the week. On the weekends they would be trying to make ice while it is beening used.
Smaller bins and bigger machines are a great deal for ice machine manufacturers. Compared to ice machines, bins are cheap. They are just insulated boxes. They seldom need repairs. By using a larger bin, you actually need a smaller ice machine. Here is an example illustrating this.
Let’s say you need 600 lbs of ice on Saturday and Sunday each. The rest of the week you only need 200 lbs a day. With a standard sized bin, you will start the day with 300 lbs of ice stored in the bin. The machine will be off. During the 12 hours you are open, the machine will need to produce 300 lbs of ice. You need a machine that is rated at least 600 lb of ice a day. Towards the end of the day your employees may be waiting for the ice to drop.
Your demand for ice is 2,200 lbs a week. When your small bin fills up the machine cuts off. The 600 lb a day machine is capable of making 4,200 lbs of ice a week, if you could store it. Your actual demand is only 315 lbs a day. Because of the bin size limitation and the off time, you are barely meeting the need with a 600 lb a day commercial ice machine. That is considerably larger than commercial ice machines that could meet your needs on a larger bin.
Used bins are often good deals. Most of the problems they could have are easy to detect. Lesson 5 of the Ice Machine Secrets e-course goes into detail about how to choose a good used bin.
You can just about combine any model maker with any model bin. They just have to fit together. You can call the bin manufacturer to confirm compatibility. A piece of custom fabricated stainless steel can usually do the trick.
If you are buying a new machine it is easy enough to ask for a larger bin. Remember that even with new bins, you can mix and mach to get the best deal. Once again, you can call the manufacturer of the bin to check compatibility.
If you have enough floor space, a small commercial ice machines on big bins may be the most inexpensive choice.
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