CHICAGO - Chocolate ice. An evaporator tipped on its side so the ice forms facing straight down. A promotion that promises, “Buy an ice machine from us and we will plant a tree in your honor.” A remote refrigerated beer system with the elegant nickname “Frostini.”
Those were just a few of the twists and turns in technology and promotions at the 89th annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago.
Despite a general agreement that the overall economy was sluggish at the time of the event in mid-May, more than 2,200 exhibitors had wares to show the more than 70,000 attendees.
Given that many exhibitors, there was plenty of new technology in the refrigeration sector including those related to ice machines, walk-ins, and reach-ins. For contractors, there were two overriding impressions.
First, a number of companies had new technologies that could well require a rethink of how to approach an install or service call.
Second, the sheer number of new products from newcomers and the expansion of product lines from long-time established companies are sure to make commercial refrigeration even more diverse and expansive than ever before.
With these impressions in mind, here by subject matter, is an overview of what was on display at NRA that may soon find its way to jobsites.
ICE MACHINESBrema Ice Makers, shown at the expo throughMarkham Sales & Equipment(www.markhamsales.com), noted its Ice Cuber “Chocolate” System. According to the company, “A system sprays water up into chilled peduncles, producing a pyramid shape cube that chills without diluting. While forming on the evaporator, they resemble a box of candy chocolates. Then one by one, the cubes come off the evaporator into the storage bin.”
Kold-Draft(www.kold-draft.com) promoted its ice as especially good for use in mixed drinks. Its “40 minutes at 40°F” statement, related to how long its cubes could hold a specific temperature in a drink. The company noted it uses a horizontal evaporator that in effect faces downward, a method that helps allow an emphasis on purity. The company said, “This one-of-a-kind evaporator filters out impurities and takes advantage of pure water’s natural tendency to freeze faster than impure water.”
Ice-O-Matic(www.iceomatic.com) announced the introduction of the ICE Series line of cube icemakers and bins. The series’ new features include a safe-hold hinge designed to improve access to the bin while retaining the bin door in an open position when users access the ice. The series includes a quick-release panel system that provides access to the modular ice machine components for cleaning and maintenance through the removal of two fasteners.
The company also announced the expansion of its Pearl Ice line of nugget icemakers with the addition of the GEM1856A to meet the needs of larger applications. According to the company, at 42 inches wide the model is said to have a production level of up to 2,130 lbs. of “soft, chewable ice crystals designed specifically to enhance drink programs and ice displays in the food service and food retail industries.”
In addition to its technology, Ice-O-Matic announced it had partnered with American Forests’ Global ReLeaf to launch Green ReLeaf, a program designed to lower the company’s carbon footprint. Over the next five years, Ice-O-Matic said it will plant a tree for every ice machine it sells. The goal of the program is to plant 150,000 trees by 2013.
“The Green ReLeaf program is one part of our commitment to the global environment and a move toward sustainability in every aspect of our business,” said Keith Kelly, vice president of sales and marketing for the Green ReLeaf program. “We also use recycled materials in our packaging and manufacturing processes, and recycle industrial and office waste whenever possible.”
Manitowoc(www.manitowocfsg.com) also noted a green approach including a new R-744 (CO2) beverage system in development with its Multiplex brand. The company said it offers beverage dispensing and energy performance comparable to existing units while using no HFC refrigerants. The first Multiplex units featuring the new technology are slated for use in August in Beijing, said the company. It also noted that units would be provided for long-term field-testing in European and Asian locations as well.
Also new from the company was the QuietQube S2170C, said to be 75 percent quieter than standard remotes due to the compressor and the condenser fan motor being housed in a remote condensing unit located away from the ice machine head section.
The company introduced a countertop nugget icemaker and water dispenser as well. The SN Series is designed to deliver large daily ice production levels and storage capacities within a small footprint, while providing quality chewable nugget ice.
Hoshizaki (www.hoshizaki.com) announced the DT-400BAH-OS cubelet icemaker and dispenser. The front-in and rear-out airflow allows the unit to be located in narrow spaces. The refrigeration circuit is located in the bottom of the unit for maintenance purposes. Also on display was the F-330BACH-C, an under counter cubelet ice machine with 80 lbs. of built-in storage and a production capacity of up to 320 lbs. of ice in 24 hours. It has front-in and -out airflow that allows it to fit in tight spaces without needing clearance on the side or back.
Among its newer products,Scotsman Ice Systems(www.scotsman-ice.com) showed the Prodigy under counter cuber. It features a self-monitoring system that provides updates on the machine’s performance and signals when routine maintenance is required. It also features a removable door and top panel. There is a control board with diagnostic code and light display so that technicians can determine operating issues.
Nordic cubed ice fromIMI Cornelius(www.cornelius.com) was created, according to the company, in nickel-plated evaporators with mechanical harvest assist to reduce energy consumption during the dislodging of the ice. The company uses what it said was an oversized condenser that does not need an air filter while still improving ice making performance in high temperature conditions.
Ice machines ranging from those producing from 44 pounds of ice up to 1,000 pounds of ice were shown byFranklin Chef(www.franklinchef.com).
AtFollett’s(www.follettice.com) booth, the focus was on the Ice Manager, a product said to automatically fill two bins or dispensers with one icemaker. ‘Smart’ technology monitors ice levels to deliver ice to the dispenser or bin where it is needed most, according to the company. The mechanicals can be positioned up to 75 feet away from the ice and beverage dispensers.
WALK-INS, REACH-INS, BLAST CHILLINGMaster-Bilt(www.master-bilt.com) displayed a stainless steel option to its Quantum Series medium temperature open display merchandisers. The new models feature a stainless steel exterior “to fit the interior designs of upscale foodservice operations,” said the company. Models are available in a 36-, 48-, and 72-inch width.
“The new stainless steel finish offers a different look for our ‘grab and go’ merchandisers,” said Bill Huffman, vice president of sales and marketing, Master-Bilt. “We are keeping up with demand from customers in foodservice operations who are looking for an upscale appearance for front-of-house use.”
U.S. Cooler(www.uscooler.com) noted its various modular construction options and said its refrigeration mechanicals can be remote, side-mounted, top-mounted, indoor or outdoor.
Polar King(www.polarking.com) had outdoor walk-in coolers and freezers made of what it called seamless fiberglass.
Nor-Lake(www.norlake.com) said it could ship same day and provide such mechanicals as remote refrigeration, completely wired and charged systems, and wall or ceiling mounted refrigeration.
One display fromStoelting(www.stoeltingfoodservice.com) showed a batch freezer with a vertically oriented freezing cylinder. The large diameter-freezing cylinder was said to allow for fast freezing times, resulting in small ice crystal formation.
Blast chilling and blast freezing was offered fromFriginox (www.friginoxusa.com). The features include angled ventilators for even chilling or freezing, a safety release, and a modular configuration.
FOOD, BEVERAGES OPTIONSThe Frostini remote refrigeration beer system fromPerfection Equipment(www.perfectequip.com) uses a constantly running compressor coupled with two mechanical controls to provide temperature control. The company said the beer temperature is maintained with virtually zero differential. The chiller uses sealed glycol, but the temperature control technology is said to reduce the amount of glycol required. The compressors are controlled by a patented application that allows each unit to vary heat extraction horsepower to match the load requirement of the system.
The company also noted that the matching of the power requirements to the actual load means using only the power required. “Because the compressor runs constantly, the excessive power requirement of starting and stopping is eliminated,” the company said.
Another technology involving glycol was shown byKairak(www.kairak.com) with its BLU products. According to the company, “coolant temperature is specifically maintained near the water’s freezing point to prevent frost or ice buildup. Through precise temperature control, any food product, even high water content foods, can remain in BLU pan chillers a day or night with no risk of freezing.”
The technology does not require fans to enhance refrigeration. Instead, the company said, it has a “steady flow of low-pressure, high-capacity liquid glycol coolant that courses through each of the hollow chiller plates separating the food storage areas. As the coolant is able to remain in a constant state, it also produces a more uniform temperature throughout the system. The pan chiller system is able to hold product at or below 39°.”
The initial applications are for prep tables, drop-in pan chillers, custom counters, and sauté stations. The self-contained units have a small amount of HFC-134a with the glycol operating in a type of secondary loop technology.
Continental Refrigerator(www.continentalrefrigerator.com) announced that its back bar equipment for restaurants is “under new development for the upcoming year (including) pass-thrus, shallow depths, and condensing units available on the left or right side.”
Pro-Line refrigeration fromMicro-Matic(www.micromatic.com) was said to provide wetting and cold water chilling for its direct draw beer dispenser.
One of the innovations in the dispenser sector was shown byGiraffe Beverage Tower Distributors(www.giraffebeveragetower.com) that had beer in tall, clear towers.
FrostWorx(www.frostworx.com) displayed a technology in which a compact frosting unit delivered a cold blast of R-744 to frost a glass in front of the customer.
For the transportation of cold and hot food, Hotshot byDelivery Concepts(www.deliveryconcepts.com) had a truck in which the cooling worked off of the vehicle’s motor with a standby electrical system to hold temperature while it was idle.
Equipment related to frozen beverages was among products shown byTaylor (www.taylor-company.com), which noted that it offered a preventive maintenance program for its equipment.
Beverage-Air(www.beverage-air.com) showed MiraCool bottle coolers that use micro channel heat exchangers, wickless condensate evaporation, link tolerance, and what the company described as a “foul-resistant condenser.”
The company also noted its offerings for the wine sector. One of its refrigerated products was called the Wine Cave, which has automatic defrost and evaporation, controlled hygrometry with 60 to 75 percent humidity, and active carbon filters.
A company calledEnomatic(www.enomaticusa.com) had a refrigerated unit that holds from four to eight wine bottles that are left uncorked with a suction mechanism in each bottle. Wine is drawn into a glass in precise proportions. For preservation of the bottles’ contents up to 30 days, the company uses argon or nitrogen gas.
TOOLS OF THE TRADECoolit-Rite was the brand name of a thermometer fromCooper-Atkins(www.cooper-atkins.com) to test to make sure food was cooled to 40° or lower in less than four hours after cooking or hot holding. Its built-in programmable timer tracks elapsed time while the thermometer monitors the temperature of the food.
Also from the company was the Temp-Trak, a remote sensor that can be mounted within walk-in coolers, hot/cold holding units, and dry storage areas. From a remote location, a signal is wirelessly transmitted through the base station to the back office PC or a local area network.