CHICAGO - A sign at one of the booths at the recent 92nd Annual National Restaurant Association Show summed up a predominant concern at the four-day event. “Being on the Food Page is Good. Being on the Front Page is Bad.”
That concern was certainly the focus of the dozens of refrigeration-related exhibitors where drink and food safety were reflected in the quality of ice and the effectiveness of freezers and coolers.
And all that went along with the continual search for more efficient equipment.
Here then by topic and then alphabetically within each topic are some of the latest trends that refrigeration contractors will be seeing in the months and years ahead.
ICE MACHINESFollett (www.follettice.com) introduced a series of Chewblet® ice icemakers to complement the existing Horizon icemaker line of 1000 and 1400 series icemakers. Designed to produce up to 1,580 pounds of ice in a 24-hour period, the Horizon 1800 Series icemakers will support high volume foodservice applications, the company said.
The units are available in remote air-cooled condensing unit configurations. Follett also features patented Satellite-fill™ technology. This ice-through-a- tube method of ice transport allows operators to fill their ice storage receptacles such as ice and beverage dispensers automatically without placing an icemaker on top. Operators clean the dispenser hopper without having to remove the icemaker. They can place the icemaker in a back room or under a counter so that the noise, heat, and bulk of an icemaker don’t detract the customer. The icemaker can be serviced without shutting down the drink station. Because ice is made in a continuous process, water doesn’t have to be dumped each harvest cycle.
Among products promoted at the booth ofHoshizaki America Inc.(www.hoshizaki.com) were under counter series ice machines, such as the F-330BAH which is less than 40 inches tall and is available with flake or cube ice options, and drop-down door.
Ice-O-Matic(www.iceomatic.com) noted new flake and pearl ice machines, the former for presentation and preservation of seafood, produce, and perishable food items; the latter for drinks. The company noted AgION® antimicrobial compound to deal with key food-zone areas, and a high-quality water filtration system.
Ice bins were part of the stainless steel offerings for ice handling, storage, and processing fromKloppenberg (www.kloppenberg.com).
Manitowoc Ice(www.manitowoc.com) introduced Indigo™ ice machines. According to a statement from the company, “The Indigo uncomplicates everything about the ice-making process. State-of-the-art diagnostics provide constant and reliable monitoring of refrigeration systems. In turn, that information is used to improve energy management, set proper ice production levels, streamline cleaning processes, ease food safety concerns, maintain ice quality, and quickly display up-to-date service information.”
Scotsman® Ice Systems(www.scotsman-ice.com) introduced the Brilliance® residential nugget ice machines. Dispensing nugget ice, a soft ice form made by compacting bits of flake ice, the 15-inch ice machines fit under the counter in the kitchen, bar, or outdoor setting.
“For the first time, consumers can satisfy their craving for this delicious ice in the convenience of their own homes,” said Denis Griesmer, vice president of sales and marketing at Scotsman. Producing more than 80 pounds of soft ice in 24 hours, Brilliance nugget ice machines include a white, black, or stainless steel front panel accessory kit.
COOLERS, FREEZERSBlast chillers were included in products featured byBally Refrigerated Boxes Inc.(www.ballyrefboxes.com). The Northwind Blast Chillers have electrical parts pre-wired in three frames - for fan, evaporator, and control assembly.
Promoted as new in 2011 were a number of reach-in coolers fromBeverage-Air(www.beverage-air.com) including bottom-mount models and a line of VueMax open-air merchandisers with recessed lighting and night shades.
A company with a large rollout of equipment at the show wasContinental Refrigerator(www. continentalrefrigerator.com) which ranged into milk coolers, reach-ins, and pass-through as well as roll-ins and roll-throughs.
Infrico s.l.(www.infrico.us.com), a Spanish company, un- veiled a line of products for the North American foodservice market at NRA. Said Jose Torres, Infrico director general, “Our AGN Series slim-line reach-in refrigerators and freezers maximize space and provide the value added features that consultants and operators are requesting.” The initial product offering includes reach-in refrigerators and freezers, refrigerated preparation tables, display showcases, and bottle coolers. He said the products are engineered to reduce energy consumption and utilize HFCs-404a and -134a.
Kolpak(www.kolpak.com) walk-ins were highlighted as being available in three ways.
•Engineered-to-Order:Walk-ins are customized and designed to precise specifications in a wide variety of configurations from large to small with options.
•Pre-Engineered:For walk-ins for a large size installation with greater flexibility. The units feature ready-made components that are ready to assemble. Compartment sizes available include 6 by 6 feet to 1- by 24 feet in 1-foot increments; 7-foot 6-inch or 8-foot 6-inch panel heights and single- or two-compartment options are available. “Pre-Engineered walk-ins result in faster ship times and a generally more cost-effective solution depending on your exact requirements,” the company said.
•Polar-Pak®:These are self-contained refrigeration units, which the company said have simplicity of installation to allow them to be installed without the need for a refrigeration technician or a plumber. Said to be best for standard-size applications.
A Green Room at the booth ofMaster-Bilt(www.master-bilt.com) focused on the company’s energy-efficiency technologies. Among those cited was a patented Master Controller reverse cycle defrost for walk-in refrigeration systems. The company said reverse cycle defrost offers up to an 80 percent decrease in defrost energy usage, as well as significant reductions in defrost time. The reverse cycle process involves a valve that reverses the flow of high-temperature refrigerant through the evaporator coil, heating along its entire length and eliminating frost buildup.
The Master Controller system, which incorporates an electric expansion valve, yields higher refrigeration capacity with less energy input, the company said. There were also EC motors in evaporator coil fans. The amount of torque and current required to start ECMs is low, making them more efficient, the company said. “They run cooler, reducing heat load to refrigerated space which makes the compressor run less.” Five- and 6-inch-thick panels are an option on Master-Bilt’s walk-in coolers and freezers to produce a higher R-factor (resistance to heat flow). “Master-Bilt recognizes the growing trend and demand for ‘green’ equipment solutions,” says Bill Huffman, vice president of sales and marketing for Master-Bilt. “We are always looking for ways to provide products that will help our customers reap the environmental and economical benefits of energy-efficient equipment.”
Blast chillers and freezers fromNorlake(www.norlake.com) are said to chill product down to –40°F in 90 minutes with an automatic chiller process. There is a food identification controller which “modulates the air speed velocity and refrigeration power during various stages of the cycle.”
A company calledStock Chiller(www.stockchiller.com) offered what it called a ‘quick chill’ method for dealing with sauces, soups, and stocks. The company contends the counter-top units are “more sanitary and safer than using ice paddles or placing in an ice water bath.”
Taylor(www.taylor-company.com) has information on its slush beverage freezer equipment. The slush ice is created with CO2, syrup, and water.
True(www.truemfg.com) had a large exhibit area with a wide range of refrigerated reach-ins. Among highlighted items were glass door merchandisers with swing door and slide top, reach-in, and pass-through convenience store refrigerators.
Blast chillers got the attention forVictory (victory-refrig.com) who noted how its self-contained units remove heat quickly during the blast-chill process, then convert to a 38°F storage refrigerator after the blast-chill cycle is complete.
COMPONENTSAn example of how NRA focuses on the nuts and bolts of mechanical refrigeration equipment was a booth ofAll Points(www.allpointsfps.com) which ships food service parts and supplies including evaporators, filter-driers, fan motors and blades, ice machine parts, and refrigeration components as well as others.
Eliason(www.eliasoncorp.com) has long noted its shields for supermarket produce display, but its presence at the NRA pointed out the fact that more and more restaurants have need for this added protection of refrigerated products.
An example of the attention to food quality noted throughout the show was one of the offerings fromITT Corp. Analytics(www.itt.com). At the show, the company launched its Bellingham & Stanley OTPIi hand-held refractometer for Brix analysis of beverages and foodstuffs. According to a statement from the company, “The refractometer is a portable, compact measurement device for the measurement of dissolved solids in food and beverage retail outlets.”
Evaporative cooling was shown byPort-A-Cool(www.port-a-cool.com) and promoted for use in such plans as warehouses, greenhouses, hangars, and auto shops, “anywhere standard air conditioning is ineffective or cost-prohibitive.”
Soft-serve equipment drew much attention at the NRA show, especially with the attention to glitz and eye appeal. But in the end, these are freezers that will need servicing attention. For example,Stoelting(www.stoeltingfoodservice.com) had at the booth a single-flavor soft-serve freezer with a refrigerated mix storage cabinet, resulting in a unit with a high-efficiency evaporator, scroll compressor, auger, spigot, IntelliTec controls, and energy conservation modes,” the company said.