Making ice is just one part of a refrigeration equipment trend that may best be recognized as “blended.” Such pieces of equipment feature an ice maker on top, flavor-filled storage cabinets, push-button access to cabinets, and even a built-in blender washer.

The operator of such a blended system may draw ice, mix a drink, pour it, put the hand-held blender in the washer, and start another drink right away while barely taking a step.

The message to refrigeration service technicians is to be aware that ice machine servicing expertise might be just one small part of the technology they could encounter on a single piece of refrigerated equipment. This equipment made an impact on the show floor of the most recent National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago.

One example was the Blend In Cup workstation from Multiplex, a brand of Manitowoc Foodservice, featuring the EasyTouch™ control “that makes beverage preparation and administration simple and easy with inventory management, visual training, cleaning, maintenance, and data collection at the touch of your finger,” according to the company. The storage cabinet holds up to eight beverage flavors. The dispense pump system handles small particulates and all product is stored at food-safe temperatures. The dual blending stations mix each drink, then rinse the chamber after each serving to sanitize and prevent flavor crossover.

Also in the same ballpark was Taylor Co.’s, Revolution, which touted a new method of blending products in a frozen beverage blender. Ice went into the top, the technology had friction grinding gears, and USB ports existed to accept orders.

Yet another company in the blending arena was Vita-mix Corp. with a commercial-grade unit called the Modular Blending System. It was described as an automated ice, puree, and blending system to create smoothies and other beverages.

The Blended Beverage Station from Lancer included an intuitive touchscreen for programming, operating, and reporting, both in terms of inventory and maintenance needs. It was said to have practical access for cleaning and maintenance.

A small ice making machine mounted in a cabinet just the size for those 7-pound ice bags was yet another example of ice machines in unique places. The approach was shown by Intl. Bag Co.

Ice Machines

In terms of ice machines, increased energy efficiencies were promoted. For example, Manitowoc Foodservice said its Indigo™ line has new technologies to improve ice production while reducing energy and potable water usage.

The company also exhibited an under counter ice machine called Sotto, which is derived from the Italian phrase ‘Sotto Voce’ — which translates to ‘quiet emphasis.’ It has a plug-and-play design and is said to operate quietly while producing clean and clear ice. Sotto is for restaurants, bars, and coffee shops, where just a few large single ice cubes are the preference. The unit is equipped with an intuitive control system that self-adjusts to ensure ice is available, even in some of the world’s highest temperatures. As a testimony, the manufacturer quoted Werner Kannemeyer from Electrical Industries, who said, “We’ve had a very hot summer here in South Africa. Temperatures at our test sites have been as high as 45?C (113?F), and the Sotto UG-80 that we are testing continues to perform better than we ever could have expected in such hot conditions.”

For the inner workings of an ice machine, Scotsman Ice Machines drew attention to such features on its units as Water Sense, an adaptive purge control; Smart-Board, providing operational data that can be displayed on screen or transmitted remotely; Vari-Smart, an ultrasonic ice-level controller; and QR Code technology that provides immediate access to service manuals, warranty information, and more.

Shaved ice and what was called snowfall-type shaved ice were promoted as being used in conjunction with water or flavored liquid for making cold desserts. The concept was shown by BK Korea. The company contended that, once the unit is plugged in, it starts producing shaved ice in 30 seconds.

Publication date: 7/7/2014 

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