CHICAGO — Refrigeration contractors who have not yet attended the annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) show really need to put it on their bucket lists. For four days each year, McCormick Place convention center is filled to the rafters with vendors exhibiting everything from gluten-free pasta to pizza ovens to high-tech ice machines.

And the best part is that many vendors offer free tastings of their wares, so while checking out the newest refrigeration equipment, it is possible to snack on hot dogs and beer, sushi, gelato, or just about any other type of food (or drink) you might desire.



Just about every restaurant has an ice machine, and the NRA show is a great place to check out manufacturers’ latest offerings. Follett, for example, exhibited its new Horizon Elite™ Series ice machines, which are designed to inhibit the formation of scale in areas that have poor water conditions, said Scott Bingham, senior product marketing manager.

All water contains total dissolved solids (TDS), explained Bingham, but many areas around the world have exceptionally high levels, which can create scale in ice machines. Scale buildup can cause decreased production of ice, premature failure of components, and overall reduction in equipment life. With the Horizon Series line of ice machines, the incoming water introduced at the front end of the evaporator forces the high TDS water that has been created in the ice making process to move to the reservoir at the back of the machine.

“The solids are then isolated and expelled in low volume flushes, which results in longer equipment life, lower life cycle costs, and substantially less need for descaling,” said Bingham.

Hoshizaki America Inc. displayed its KMEdge ice machine series, which received the 2018 Kitchen Innovations Award for progressive equipment that increases efficiencies and productivity. The KMEdge models employ a one-piece, dual-sided stainless steel evaporator that surrounds oval-shaped copper heating/cooling tubing, optimizing surface contact area for better hold/cold transfer. The result is harder, clearer ice and higher ice production in fewer cycles, increasing ice machine reliability, according to the company.

The KMEdge also features a new control board, which incorporates custom programming that self-diagnoses any irregularity in freeze times due to common field issues, such as low water pressure, bin control malfunction, and cold incoming water. If any irregularity is detected, the ice machine will automatically initiate a 10-minute defrost/melt cycle.

The new Elevation Series of ice machines from Ice-O-Matic was designed to be simple to operate and clean, explained Brian Rakers, Midwest regional manager, Ice-O-Matic.

“The machines contain no screws, so there is no metal to rust. The unique plastic food zone parts snap in and out, and all components are dishwasher safe. In addition, the water distribution tube can be easily removed and disassembled for cleaning, and it, too, is dishwasher safe.”

Rakers demonstrated how easy it was to disassemble and clean the ice machine, noting that the seamless food zone is sealed from all mechanical hardware, so nothing can contaminate the area where ice is produced. The machines also offer a new control board as well as dual exhaust — from both the top and side — which provides more flexibility to owners.

ITV Ice Makers, a Spanish company, exhibited its 22-inch-wide SLIM range as a response to the quick-service restaurant demand of reducing equipment footprints. The Spika MS 700-22 SLIM with vertical evaporator produces half-dice ice or full-dice ice cubes, designed for soft drinks offered by fast-food chains. The Spika MS 300 SLIM can be combined with the DHD 130-22 SLIM dispenser, which is a reliable, hygienic, easy-to-service, and energy-efficient machine that has 128 pounds of storage capacity. The SLIM range also includes the Bin S 400-22, which features a stainless steel body, an easy cleaning design, and the ability to store 399 pounds.

Manitowoc’s new Indigo® NXT ice machines feature a whole host of high-tech features, including the 2.8-inch icon-based easyTouch® display, which simplifies installation, setup, and cleaning. The one-touch access to asset information, service menus, reminders, and alerts takes the guesswork out of owning an ice machine, explained Mary Lynch, a sales representative for Manitowoc.

For improved sanitation, Manitowoc offers an optional advance growth inhibitor called LuminIce II that is fully integrated with the ice machine and can reduce bacteria buildup by 85 to 90 percent, said Lynch. The LuminIce growth inhibitor recirculates the air inside the ice machine food zone over a UV light, which inhibits the growth of yeast, bacteria, and other common microorganisms. As Lynch explained, foodservice operations can often be in challenging environments, and it can be difficult to prevent contamination.

“LuminIce II can take care of any of that airborne bacteria,” she said.

The UN324 Essential Ice™ undercounter ice machine from Scotsman is 24 inches wide, so it can be placed in the tightest locations, said Jeff Biel, director of marketing and product development, Scotsman Ice Systems. The units are designed, engineered, and assembled in the U.S. and feature a greaseless bearing for reduced maintenance and a stainless steel evaporator for maximum durability. In addition, an external air filter offers easy cleaning, and the slide back door allows easy access to ice in the bin.

To keep ice machines clean, Air Oasis showcased Bi-Polar Ice BPi200, which was also a 2018 Kitchen Innovations Award recipient. This NSF-approved bipolar ionization device for commercial ice machines utilizes a small electrical housing and carbon-fiber brushes to release airborne ions throughout the ice machine without creating ozone. The company said its compact unit greatly reduces mold, yeast, bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, improving sanitation and reducing the number of expensive service cycles it takes to protect consumers.



In addition to ice machines, the NRA show featured a dazzling array of other refrigeration equipment, including coolers, reach-ins, and walk-ins. Blue Air Commercial Refrigeration showcased its new pizza prep table, which uses a hermetically sealed top rail with glycerin technology in order to keep pizza toppings cold.

Turbo Air highlighted its numerous types of refrigerated cases that feature a self-cleaning condenser. Mike DiDaniels, a manufacturer’s representative for Turbo Air, explained that this feature comes standard on 90 percent of the models offered and can extend life expectancy of the equipment by four or five years. Dirty condensers can cause the failure or breakdown of equipment, but with the self-cleaning condenser, dirt collects on a wire grid in front of the condenser, and a brush rotates up and down the grid to sweep the dirt away.

All of the self-contained refrigeration equipment offered by True Manufacturing utilizes hydrocarbon refrigerant, including the new FLM Series of full-length merchandisers. Available in 1-, 2-, and 3-door configurations, the FLM Series feature full-height doors, integrated LED lighting, and adjustable cantilever shelves, explained Jason Hedge, U.S. foodservice sales and marketing, True Manufacturing.

The pizza prep table from Continental Refrigeration offers more refrigerated space above the condensing unit as either a standard door or an optional drawer.

The unit is very flexible, explained Faith Osborn, marketing manager, Continental Refrigeration, because the condensing unit can be located on the right or left.

The company also highlighted its Designer Line of reach-ins and roll-ins, which feature a unique down duct system on the top and sides for better air distribution.

Everidge featured several of its cold storage products, including a walk-in cooler and items from its ThermalRite specialty products line.

“Walk-in coolers are expensive pieces of equipment,” said Steve Gill, senior vice president of sales and marketing-foodservice at Everidge. “If you order the wrong size or configuration, it can ruin your kitchen.”

That is why Everidge works closely with end users to ensure they get the right equipment for their application.

The ICS stand-alone, cold storage walk-in from Everidge is a space-saving outdoor unit that offers flexible designs to suit any application. The units feature antimicrobial stainless steel walls and floors and are virtually plug-and-play, according to Gill. Also highlighted at the booth was a new modular blast chiller, which blows air to the side instead of on the food.

Emerson showcased its Cooper-Atkins products and solutions, which include a comprehensive range of temperature management and monitoring products for spot inspection and fixed location uses, including restaurants and supermarkets. The company also highlighted ProAct™ Services, an enterprise connectivity software and service management program that helps optimize facilities and operations; maintain conditions, assets, and facilities; and sustain refrigerant, energy management, and other resources. Site supervisor and supervisory controls collect and analyze data, which gets cloud-processed through ProAct software, apps, and advanced services into insights about current conditions, developing trends, performance history, and operational metrics, noted Ben Picker, Copeland product manager, Emerson.

Also on display was the Copeland™ Outdoor Refrigeration Unit (XLine), which was designed for medium- and low-temperature walk-in coolers, freezers, and display cases found in convenience stores and restaurants. According to Picker, the unit significantly reduces energy consumption by utilizing scroll compressor technology, variable-speed fan motors, and advanced controls.

Nor-Lake exhibited its redesigned AdvantEDGE™ sandwich/salad prep tables, which include a standard condenser filter screen that is removable without tools to allow easy condenser coil cleaning. The front-breathing refrigeration system design allows for zero-clearance installation on sides and back, and an enclosed drop-in section area keeps food items stored in pans consistently cold. The company also displayed refrigeration systems with Copeland Scroll™ compressors, and the optional Enviro-Control™ electronic controller system for walk-in refrigeration, which is designed to increase reliability, connectivity, and food safety while reducing operating costs.

Publication date: 7/9/2018

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